Aristotle’s ideas about women are also rather controversial. Upon deeper examination one finds that his ideas may be different than what one would conclude from a cursory reading. First of all, Aristotle believes that women are fully human; that is, they are not natural slaves and have the full use of reason. The husband's rule over the woman in a marriage is akin to political rule, which is rule over free and equal persons, in which both the ruler and the ruled are free and equal. It is also intriguing that in his discussion of the different virtues particular to women he quotes a line from Sophocles’ play Ajax: "To a woman silence is an ornament." The protagonist Ajax says this line to his wife. Ironically, the advice his wife had given him had been correct and he acted unwisely, leading to his death. By choosing to quote this line, Aristotle seems to be challenging the view prevalent in his time, that women are inferior to men.
Household management is concerned with human beings and their virtuousness. Perhaps there are separate virtues for women and for children; otherwise how could one justify their being ruled? The female, unlike the slave, does have the deliberate element of reason, but she lacks authority. Therefore the virtues of men and women are different, and the virtues of slaves are different as well. Education of women and children with a view to the regime is necessary because women make up half of the free persons in the city and children are future citizens.