Verbal continence is an essential feature of the masculine virtue sophrosyne (“prudence, soundness of mind, moderation, temperance, self-control”) that organizes most patriarchal thinking on ethical or emotional matters. Woman as a species is frequently said to lack the ordering principle of sophrosyne. (…)
Lately I have begun to question the Greek word sophrosyne. I wonder about this concept of self-control and whether it really is, as the Greeks believed, an answer to most questions of human goodness and dilemmas of civility. I wonder if there might not be another idea of human order than repression, another notion of human virtue than self-control, another kind of human self than one based on dissociation of inside and outside. Or indeed, another human essence than self.
Anne Carson, “The Gender of Sound”, Glass, Irony and God, 1992.