Posts Tagged ‘eve’

Mary Daly and “Un-biting the Apple”

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Most of my reactions to this week’s readings are directed at Mary Daly’s article.  I definitely agree with Camille in that I would totally back up Daly’s words.  This has pretty much been one of my first opportunity to consider women in ancient history when reading biblical passages.  The only passage that really sticks in my mind referring to the relationship between men and women is found in Ephesians:

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.

This is a passage that I hear a lot when I go to church, and I often think of these lines before I think about Adam and Eve, despite the Genesis story being much more famous.  Mary Daly presents numerous arguments about Genesis, in reference to the position of women in relation to men.  There are those who believe that women are equal to men in the eyes of God because of the language of certain translations of Genesis, referring to “man” as “them” rather than separating the duties of the first men and women.  The responsibilities of reproduction and labor were not separated.  Others argue that women are inferior because they came from man (or more specifically, his rib).  Men come from God, and therefore serve God; women come from men and therefore serve men.

One of the passages in Mary Daly’s article was particularly incendiary.  On page 85, it is argued that women become more like men when they are pious and faithful.  If they are not, they are bound by the “name of her sex,” inferring that women are different in every way from men, and only men can perfectly achieve Christ-like qualities.  Women who don’t believe in Christ are just women, while women who love Christ “progress to perfect manhood.”  The article goes on to suggest that womanhood embodies “fickleness” or seductiveness or “garrulousness,” all qualities that distract women from serving God.  Men, on the other hand, are logical, smart, and not “slow to understanding” as women were  (and often still are) considered.

While reading the article, I wondered what history would have been like if Eve hadn’t been the one to bite the apple, but if Adam had instead succumbed first.  I read a book a couple years ago called Egalia’s Daughters, which describes what the world would be like if women were on top.  In this book, men wear skirts, are introduced to society like debutantes, and, when married, become “housebounds” (a play on the word “husband”).  There is even a gang rape scene in which a manwom (aka a boy in our world and the equivalent of our stereotypical female in the book) is attacked by women.

A quick guide to the book’s language:

All masculine objects become feminine and vice versa (a ship in our world is “she” but in the book a ship is a “he”)

Wom: our equivalent to a biological woman; the plural is “wim”

Manwom: our equivalent to a biological man; the plural is “menwim”

The book goes on the further satirize the duties of men and women by making “menwim” the begetter of children.  A “wom” gives birth into the arms of her housebound, who is tasked with raising the children.  Here, the male takes on the duty of reproduction, even though it is the female who carries the child.  Until you get used to the language, the book can be a little difficult to get through, but I like that it makes you think about the stereotypes of both sexes.  It makes you question what the world would be like if historically, women hadn’t been considered inferior to men.

**The title “Un-biting the Apple” is a reference to an essay in Theorizing Twilight**

The Body of Christ?/Marriage: The Eternal Love Triangle

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Okay, not to say that our other readings weren’t interesting and all– they were– but I was fascinated by Paula Jean Miller’s “The Theology of the Body.” One point of interest has a lot to do with Kristen’s earlier post, in defining the role of marriage and both (or roughly speaking, all three) parties contained within it: “…John Paul focuses on the true goal of human sexuality: the union of man and woman, body and spirit” (502). Although Miller proceeds to say that John Paul perceives this institution to be “the basis for a fully human, sexual-personal relationship,” (502), I wanted to push this a little further and argue that it is actually the basis for, scripturally-speaking, a sexual-personal-metaphysical/spiritual interrelationship. How’s THAT for complicating things??

I mean, New Order says it best when they beg the beloved addressee of the song below to pay attention and work on the relationship: “Every time I see you falling/I get down on my knees and pray/I’m prayin’ for that final moment/to say the words that I can’t say.”

Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

The delightful throwback moment of classic New Wave Brit Pop Electronica circa 1982 aside, I’m serious when I say that God/the Holy Spirit is the third “partner” in marriage, and that this, instead of increasing the sin in carnal feeling, actually alleviates some of it (within the confines/context of traditional, legal Christian marriage, of course). Rather than being ashamed of the body (Eve/Fall from Eden, anyone?), “…the Holy Father teaches that the body is the very oldest sacrament, instituted by God at the dawn of creation: He calls it the ‘primordial sacrament'” (502). This seems to suggest a certain growing tolerance on the part of the Catholic church towards sex for pleasure (no birth control though!), and that our bodies are, indeed, a blessing, an instrument, and a constant source of temptation.

This is a frightening, weird, and tantalizing contradiction, when we think about it. Our bodies can be used for either evil or good, and we can neither become too appreciative of them (lest we fall prey to vanity), nor too harsh about them (lest we begin to covet aspects of our neighbor’s physique).Gosh, the seven deadly sins are everywhere, aren’t they?! Reminds me of Cyndi Lauper’s album “12 Deadly Cyns (And Then Some).” 🙂

12 Deadly Cyns And Then Some

What complicates this seemingly-impossible avoidance of body-related sin even FURTHER is that Miller outlines how our bodies are indistinct from our essential “selves.” In fact, she claims, we are all physical manifestations of God’s “body,” so that in order to be embodied, we must carry on with God’s perfect plan, or else we are not our actual selves, if that makes sense…or that our physical skin, muscles, bones and brain are somehow wasted, since we are not the “incarnate spirits” we are supposed to be. I think Miller puts it best in the following passage: “As embodied persons, there is no way for us to come to know one another except through glances, words, gestures, idiosyncrasies, hugs, and withdrawals, all of which we experience through the personal body” (502).

And then, of course, there’s the sexual-spiritual element we discussed in class last week when we talked about spiritualists/spirituality/spiritualism– after all, this class is about Sex AND Religion! But just for kicks and giggles (and good music), here’s John Mayer to teach you the good news: 😉

Haha 😉

 

Diabolical Dichotomy: Women’s Roles in Early American Tradition

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Over the past couple of weeks, it’s become clear that most of the ideas about women being innocent and pure are fairly new.  This first came to light for me while reading Becoming the Goddess, by Bruce Lincoln.  He describes a Navajo ceremony called “Kinaalda,” which celebrates a girl’s first menstruation.  This signals her reproductive power as a member of the community.  Celebrations like this are rare if nonexistent nowadays, and at first glance, this ceremony may be considered positive.  A society celebrated something that, in 2013, is usually hidden or just not talked about.  In the Kinaalda, the girl becomes Changing Woman, a goddess who, among many things, symbolizes fertility in Navajo tradition.

Navajo men and women bake a corn cake in the ground during a Kinaalda ceremony.  The cake is a solar image, alluding to the conception of Changing Woman's twins by Sun.

Navajo men and women bake a corn cake in the ground during a Kinaalda ceremony. The cake is a solar image, alluding to the conception of Changing Woman’s twins by Sun.

However, later in the reading, Lincoln mentions the legend of Changing Woman, who bore twins, fathered by Sun, to save the world from horrible monsters.  The origin of these monsters?

Masturbating women.

Apparently, these monsters grew from women using their sexuality for non-reproductive purposes.  Therefore, Changing Woman had to bear sons to slay the monsters and bring peace to a chaotic world.

The dichotomy of women’s roles in early tradition is blatant.  On one hand, women are held up as both productive and reproductive members of society.  They are laborers, and they bring new life into the world.  Their position as potential mothers is respected and, in matriarchal societies like that of the Navajo, women seem to be placed on a pedestal.

The other side of the coin is far less encouraging.  Unbridled female sexuality is regarded as sinful and base, and harms the society as a whole.  When a woman goes against what would be considered her natural, reproductive nature, she creates chaos.

Puritan tradition was similar in its attitudes towards women.  According to a chapter entitled “The Serpent Beguiled Me,” women had to be modest and loyal to their husbands.  Women were not naturally good, by Calvinist standards.  According to page 97, “Because the potential for evil was innate, lust might break out anywhere,” suggesting that evil and lust go hand in hand, and that women should be guarded against superficial, sexual tendencies.

Further in this chapter, the author turns to Eve, the first woman in biblical tradition.  She caused sin to enter the world by eating the Forbidden Fruit, disobeying God.  The resulting punishment on all mankind after her has caused views on women to become skewed. Women are seen as “weak, unstable, susceptible to suggestion,” by their very nature.  This attitude makes women seem like children who don’t know any better and need to be either disciplined or taught their place.

images (1)

 

The bottom line throughout all of this is that women have a very specific role to play, and those who toe the line are sinful and unnatural.  A woman’s job was to make babies and work hard for the good of society.  Lust was wrong.  Expression of sexuality was wrong.  From Eve to early Navajo, women have been stuck in very narrow, defined gender roles that limit their freedom of individuality and sexuality, for fear of damaging a society.  Though their gender roles have changed over time, freedom of sexual expression has always been limited and regulated by myth, legend, and Bible verse.