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The Judgment of Paris

If you reversed the gender roles in ‘The Judgment of Paris’, the story wouldn’t make sense anymore.

The Judgment of Paris is what sets into motion the events depicted ‘The Iliad’. Paris, the prince of Troy, has to make a decision: Who is the most beautiful woman – Hera, Athena, or Aphrodite? The winner gets a golden apple. There is a famous painting by Rubens in which Paris asks the three ladies to disrobe so he can judge better (clever guy).

But if the gender roles were reversed, the story wouldn’t make any sense. I can’t see Zeus, Poseidon and Apollo lining up in front of some woman to determine who is the most handsome. I think this has to do with the different manner in which men and women each determine their own self-worth.

Most women tend to define themselves by the opinion of other men, not from other women. Whatever way in which men think of them, tends to be the way which they view themselves (sadly).

Men, however, don’t define themselves by the opinion of women. Men do seek approval from women, but they do it differently. Instead of seeking approval directly from the opinion of women, men seek approval by getting a woman.

In the story of The Iliad itself, women are the glory of the men. Not the opinion of women, but the women themselves. The woman’s opinion of the man doesn’t make him feel good about himself, the fact that he has the woman makes him feel good about himself.

It’s strange the way the women in the story react to Paris’ judgment as well. After he chooses Aphrodite, they aren’t mad at Paris or try to get him to change his mind… No, they’re mad at Aphrodite for having been chosen.

Some might say that this is merely reflective of an ancient patriarchal society which doesn’t reflect today’s values, but I really don’t see things having been changed at all. The Judgment of Paris happens every single day a hundred times a day at your local High School.

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