Antigone – The First Feminist
How old is feminism, and who was the first feminist? Although no one can say for sure the exact date on which the feminist movement started, most of it is attributed to the past two centuries. However, women who are feminists have been around much longer. In Sophocles’s Antigone, the main character (Antigone) acts as a protofeminist by defying the authority of a patriarchal society and taking action according to what she believes is right in her heart. She even shows some characteristics of a modern feminist.
Feminists today are viewed as raging, man-hating bitches, but feminism in its true sense simply advocates women’s rights. While there are extremes on either side of the scale, most feminists fight for equality among the sexes rather than dominance of one over the other. Antigone can be considered a feminist because she challenges the “men-make-the-rules-and-women-follow-them-unquestioningly” mentality of the society she lives in.
Antigone’s character is indeed among the first to stand up for women in a society that has remained patriarchal, or male-dominated, and unchallenged. She lived in a time where men were the public politicians and authoritarians, and women were in charge of domestic business. Ismene (Antigone’s sister) points out to Antigone, “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men,” (Sophocles p.646). This strict patriarchy is symbolized by King Creon, who makes a decree that is opposition with the gods and forbids the proper burial of Polynices (Antigone’s brother).
Antigone, however, decides she would rather please the gods than man and buries her brother against King Creon’s orders. She is fully aware of the consequences should she get caught,...