Was There Feminism in Ancient Greece?

Feminism is a term that has become increasingly popular in recent times. It is the belief that women should have equal rights and opportunities as men in all aspects of life.

However, many people wonder if feminism existed in ancient times, specifically in Ancient Greece. Let’s take a closer look.

The Role of Women in Ancient Greece

Women in Ancient Greece were not considered equal to men. They were expected to stay at home, take care of the children, and manage the household.

Women could not participate in politics or own property. They were essentially seen as property themselves.

Women in Mythology

Despite the societal constraints placed on women, there are examples of strong and powerful women in Greek mythology. Goddesses like Athena and Artemis were revered for their wisdom and strength.

Medusa was a fierce warrior who could turn men to stone with a single gaze. These mythological figures may have served as inspiration for some women to push back against societal norms.

The Role of Female Deities

Female deities played an important role in Greek religion. They were often associated with fertility, childbirth, and protection. These goddesses were worshipped and celebrated during festivals such as the Thesmophoria, which was exclusively for women.

Early Feminist Thinkers

While it’s difficult to determine if there was an organized feminist movement in Ancient Greece, there were some early thinkers who advocated for women’s rights. One such person was Gorgo, the wife of King Leonidas I of Sparta. She is known for her famous quote when asked what makes Spartan women different from other women: “Because we are the only women who are rulers of men.”

Another notable figure was Aspasia, a woman who lived with Pericles, one of Athens’ most famous leaders. Aspasia was known for her intelligence and was respected by many of the male philosophers of her time.


While there may not have been a formal feminist movement in Ancient Greece, there were certainly women who pushed back against societal norms and advocated for their rights. The role of female deities and mythological figures also played a significant role in the way women were viewed in Ancient Greece. Today, we continue to fight for gender equality and it’s important to remember the struggles of those who came before us.