For today's guest post, we feature a short essay by Carly Murphy, who's a member of our Edmonton Generous Space Group. Our community has been reckoning with the intersectionality inherent in our common pursuit of justice - in other words, if our liberation is bound up together, we can't just focus on homophobia and transphobia - we must also combat things like racism, ableism, and yes... sexism, especially when it is linked to our faith and our interpretations of scripture, which Carly comments on here.
Carly's wonderful chosen title, which was too long for our blog template, was this:
"If you think there are no Hard-Core Women of the Bible and they're all submissive and super obedient to every man, you thought wrong - A Series (hopefully)"
Brief Genesis retelling, by Carly: It’s the first spring of the world. And God made all the things. Then he made all the creatures. Then he made Adam. (To name things.) Then he made a woman. (To not name things, but to: apparently, bring sin into the world and all things terrible and horrible and it’s a woman’s fault because she picked where to eat one time - and it was a bad choice - so now men are cursed to return to the dirt, and to also get no definitive answer when they ask a girl they want to eat - because look what happened last time.)
So, that’s the antifeminist doctrine of an original female sin, which has consistently singled out Eve as the OG sinner, connecting sexual overtones to her sin and scapegoating her, not only for the condemnation and disconnection of the whole human race to death by seducing Adam to go against the will of God and eat forbidden fruit, but also requiring the sacrifice of a male saviour, conceived and born immaculately from a pure and submissive woman chosen specifically to redress the immensity and horror of Eve’s first crime and minimize its contagion among other women. Tertullian's scathing remarks* addressed to Eve (and her daughters) are representative of exactly the kind of misogyny I’m talking about (which isn’t only in ancient times, but also today,):
You are the devil's gateway; you are the unsealer of that forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law; you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert - that is, death - even the Son of God had to die.**
It is part of feminism to revise the mythology of the Patriarchy so that women might be not considered “the devil’s gateway”. (Just a thought). Consider this: Eve was created out of Adam’s ribs, therefore suggesting that because she was made after man, out of him and for him, her purposes are secondary to Adam’s. Therefore, Eve’s susceptibility to sin is because of her innate moral frailty - which is only there because of her secondary and therefore inferior creation from Adam.
Also, I’m mad about but also love that Eve isn’t a candidate for canonization by the church. Her status as original sinner is cherished, her alliance with the dark and mysterious feminine forces of the universe is celebrated, and the type of grace she may experience becomes associated with her defiance of nonsensical taboos and noxious myths kept alive by patriarchal religions which demean women and contribute to what Mary Daly has called, in Beyond God the Father, "the essential lovelessness of the sexually hierarchical society."*** Insert this Kim Chernin from her recent book entitled Reinventing Eve and we have ourselves an ending statement:
The transformation of woman is a work of archetypal dimension and significance. To change fundamentally the nature of woman, it would be necessary to transform the archetype itself. To imagine Eve, the sinful first woman, as rebel in Paradise, is itself a bite into the forbidden fruit.****
I’m biting that fruit.
* Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus is one of the earliest Christian Latin authors; he wrote a defence of Christianity against pagans entitled The Apology (I haven’t read it) and lived from 160-230 A.D.
** Tertullian, "On the Apparel of Women," The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1956) Chapter 1. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0402.htm *** Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation (Boston: Beacon P, 1973) 51. The entire sentence reads: "To oppose the essential lovelessness of the sexually hierarchical society is the radically loving act." https://ipctacoma.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/TRS-2018-02-Daly-Beyond-God-The-Father.pdf
**** Reinventing Eve: Modern Woman in Search of Herself (New York: Times Books, 1987) 148-49.
An un-reformed fangirl, Carly Murphy has moved across the country for her degree (twice), written art history essays while camping (for two months straight), and made a credit union hip and happening. She can tell you— with authority— where the good tea in town is. She can cook you a mean mug brownie, design you lucid and appealing promotional material, or make you a heart wrenching playlist— whatever you need.