Revisiting the Tree of Knowledge

 

The Church Father Tertullian tells us “the woman should wear a simple dress, be mournful and full of repentance to suffer for her inheritance from Eve, the shame of being the one who committed the original sin and the guilt of being the cause of mankind’s condemnation.

 

 

 

That’s great, Tertullian. So I should stop writing immediately and repent for my feeble, womanish thoughts?

 

No such luck.

 

While Tertullian’s opinion isn’t held by many people in the Western world, variations are still visible in everyday life. In our society, there is a collective rejection of the feminine that was, in reality, born long before any of us would think to question where it came from. Any connotation with femininity (i.e. showing emotion, the color pink) implies weakness, in today’s society. How many times have we heard the phrase “Don’t be such a girl”? When did an association with the feminine become a symbol for weakness, or even evil?

It is necessary first to look at how women were perceived “in the beginning.” During the Neolithic period (10,000 B.C. to 3,500 B.C.), men were hunters and women stayed back to tend to their dwelling and children. Tasks were divided without any idea of superiority- that is, it was not “better” to be a hunter than it was to tend a garden. In South America, the society known as the Amazons was headed by women, who acted as warriors and spiritual leaders. In Mesopotamia, the Goddess Nin-khursag was worshipped just as much as the God Enlil. Celtic tribes worshipped a divine mother, as did the Native Americans.

With the rise of Christianity, and mainly the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, feminism in the western world would change forevermore.  Let me say first that I have no problem with the original Christian/Jewish religious texts, just the misinterpretation of those texts. For example, one third of American adults interpret the Bible as the literal word of God, when it is really a collection of anecdotes and historical accounts from various religious students. It is this literal interpretation (Eve being to blame for Original Sin and the condemnation of mankind) that helped create an image of woman as a temptress who leads God-fearing men to the Devil. Because of this incorrect conclusion, religious groups that still worshipped the Goddess were wiped out, often including the torture of women as penitence for the sins of Eve. The Adam and Eve parable provided a reason to bar women from obtaining clerical positions in the same way they had been priestesses in generations prior. Generation after generation, women were taught that they were inferior and made to feel guilty for the reproductive organs they were born with. Even Martin Luther referred to women as “magnificent animals” and did not consider them to be human.

So how does this history translate to our modern view of women? Women have won rights such as the right to vote, and certain religious groups allow women to be in the clergy. While I am grateful for these rights, they are still the rights that women already had at one point in history.

Now, problems with feminism are more psychological than anything else. For example, it has been scientifically proven that intelligent women are less attractive to men. A 2005 study by the University of Edinburgh found that for women, with each 16 point increase in IQ, are 40% less likely to be married. Men, with each 16 pt. IQ jump, increased their chances of marriage by 35%. Every day I see smart girls acting dumb so as not to scare off prospective boyfriends.

Intelligent, successful women are seen as threats to society. The widespread hatred of Martha Stewart is a perfect example of this phenomenon- she is a charismatic, successful and driven woman who happens to have made her fortune by- gasp!- being a fantastic HOSTESS. How dare she!

Many women claim to be feminists and reject traditionally held feminine roles, such as mothers or homemakers. I believe that this rejection of all things feminine is antifeminist as well, because shouldn’t we embrace the rights we’ve won while simultaneously being proud of all things feminine?

In conclusion, girls really have it harder than guys. I’m talking about the historical reasons why we collectively have a very skewed perception of women and feminism, and that girls are forced to search for an identity in a society that praises them for being beautiful, but punishes them for being intelligent.

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 8:24 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Hypocrisy of the Religious Right

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips.  “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This excerpt from Emma Lazarus’ poem is exactly what America stands for. We are a nation that (through theory and historical example) welcomes exiles, immigrants, and those who are willing to take a leap of faith and begin a new life in an unknown land. In this sense, America is the nation that follows the original tenets of Jesus Christ better than any other in the world. The mission that is set forth for every American upon birth is to continue this legacy by personifying this uniquely American spirit.

There is a group in America, however, that espouses the same ideas yet is the worst at following them. The Religious Right is completely and utterly hypocritical, and that collective hypocrisy, with the nomination of Sarah Palin, may soon come to define America to the international community. Here are some of the most common forms of radical right wing thought and why they don’t make sense:

The Allegation: Those people who comprise the Religious Right think that Democrats want government to, as an acquaintance of mine put it, “control everything.”

The Reality Check: So, wanting the government to tell you who you can marry (anti gay rights), what a woman can do with her body (wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade), regardless of what the man does with his body (this is for those hard-liners who think abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape, such as Sarah Palin and possibly John McCain) doesn’t count as having the government “control everything”?

The Allegation: RRs are pro-life while Democrats are “abortionists.”

The Reality Check: The term “pro-life” is completely misleading. Those Republicans who believe that a mother shouldn’t have an abortion even if the complications of her pregnancy may prove fatal to herself are, in fact, not pro-life. They believe that the mother should die rather than have an abortion. To me, that sounds more like “anti-woman” than “pro-life”. The terms pro-life and pro-choice should be changed to anti-choice and pro-choice, because that is much more accurate. It is totally hypocritical for those who call themselves “pro-life” to wrap themselves up in a guise of morality when really, they’re completely ignoring the needs of women, preferring to treat them as mere childbearing vessels.

The Allegation: that Democrats aren’t as moral or pro-family values as the Religious Right.

The Reality Check: A few nonexamples to ponder: John McCain’s despicable treatment of his first wife, John McCain calling a teenage Chelsea Clinton “ugly” in 1998, John McCain calling his wife the c-word, Larry Craig in the airport bathroom, Ted Stevens’ corruption scandal, George Bush and the Iraq war, Bush, Cheney and the oil companies… the list goes on. Can you really claim that you’re the party of family values and morality? If you think being anti-choice qualifies you for that title, then see the above allegation and reality check.

For those of you who honestly believe that you’re the followers of Christ in your pro-NRA, anti-choice agenda, here’s another reality check: Jesus taught us to love one’s neigbor as oneself, to be nonviolent, to help the underpriveleged, and to turn the other cheek. He would NOT agree with hating gays, telling the mentally handicapped who make up the majority of the homeless population to “pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps” even if they don’t have boots, or reducing the role of women to people who, even if they are raped or their health may be compromised, should stay pregnant, and dare they work, not get equal pay.

Though Rush Limbaugh said in an email “Palin= guns, babies, Jesus,” Palin really equals a potential future where America will be identified with the emblem of the religious right: a caricature depicting a hickish, gun-toting Jesus Christ.

Published in: on September 1, 2008 at 3:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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