The chastity-industrial complex

eveapple.JPG
Image from Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music project
Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it a million times: sex sells. It’s often used as an excuse for why advertisers use pictures of half-naked women to sell just about every product imaginable. It shouldn’t be surprising, then that anti-sex also sells. (via Jezebel) Conservative Christian don’t-have-sex publishing has taken off! Publishers Weekly puts the bestsellers into a few broad categories: Chasing Chastity, AIDS Awareness, and Sexual Integrity for Men. Let’s take these one by one, shall we?
Chasing Chastity
The article mentions Lies Women Believe, a book by two women who have both written “purity” guides. It’s a perfect example of the near-porniness of some “abstinence” writing. The book begins with a description of what was going on in Eve’s head when she ate the forbidden fruit (I’m not kidding):

First, I just listened and looked. In my heart, I pondered, I questioned, I debated. Adam had reminded me many times that God had said we must not eat the fruit from that tree. The creature kept looking into my eyes and talking in a soothing voice. I found myself believing him. It felt so right. Finally, I surrendered. I reached out — cautiously at first, then more boldly. I took, I ate. I handed it to Adam. He ate. We ate together — first me, then him.
Those next moment are a blur. Sensations deep down inside that I’ve never had before. New awareness — like I know a secret I’m not supposed to know. Elation and depression — at the same time. Liberation. Prison. Rising. Falling. Confident. Afraid. Ashamed. Dirty. Hiding — I can’t let Him see me like this.
Alone. So very alone. Lost. Deceived.

Ah yes, I go through those same feelings every time I eat an apple. We could have a Freudian field day with that passage. I can see this prose causing guilt-ridden titillation — a surefire recipe for bestseller success.
AIDS Awareness
The abstinence-only crowd promoting “AIDS awareness”? How hypocritical. Just look at what they want to do to PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). They basically want to strip everything effective from our international AIDS strategy. It’s not so much an anti-sex movement as an anti-health movement.
Sexual Integrity for Men
The no-sex-until-hetero-marriage movement has set up “men’s integrity” as the flip side to “women’s purity.” Hence, you have the hilariously titled “Integrity Balls” for boys, which emphasize not “ruining” your girlfriend for her future husband. See, maintaining women’s “purity” should be the goal of both men and women. So again, this isn’t so much an argument against sex as an argument against women violating their Eve-like innocence and purity by having sex. Also: This “integrity” line of reasoning has always caused me to wonder: Does this mean dudes can maintain their integrity by just sleeping with other dudes? Makes sense to me.

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50 Comments

  1. Posted March 14, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Ooops – I just, erm, realized that I have no integrity, thus, no balls. :(
    Ann: on your question about dudes sleeping with other dudes – NO! You can’t do that, because sex is supposed to be between a man and woman, and as soon as a dude sleeps with another dude, both dudes have lost their manhood status, thus have no integrity.
    Dudes aren’t supposed to penetrate dudes. How else would they define their manhood?
    I am all for people choosing to or not to have sex, but can we please put a fucking sock in it with the whole purity bullshit? Because a woman’s who’s a penis in her prior to marriage probably has nothing else to offer, right? The thought of having sex with a virgin scares me. :(

  2. Posted March 14, 2008 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Oh man, it’s true. I ate a peach yesterday and I’m still crying and screaming “YOU SAID YOU LOVED ME YOU LUCIOUS MEATY FRUIT, YOU!!”

  3. kamikazebirds
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Kinky.

  4. Waterpixi
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I went to a Christian college and knew a guy that literally lost his mind on his wedding night the first time he had sex–it was too much all at once and he spent his honeymoon in a psychiatric hospital. I can’t remember if his wife was also a virgin, but I image if she was it must have been a pretty terrifying experience–you wait so long for this and everyone tells you how special it is, and things somehow go incredibly wrong and way too emotional.
    How come we always say Eve ate an apple? Does anyone know where that came from? I’ve always wondered…
    ProFeministMale, your last comments kind of remind me, I chose to remain a virgin for a long time, and when I did have sex for the first time, the guy said, immediately afterwards, “I thought I was supposed to feel something break or pop inside you.” Yeah. Thanks. Because all I had to offer was something for you to feel break, and damn, I guess I failed you. LOL.

  5. Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Waterpixi – It shows how ignorant we males are on female sexuality, not because of stupidity, but because while women’s “purity” and bodies are constantly up for judgement and the talk of the town, their sexuality is never the center of conversation.
    I remember feministing had a discussion on hymens a while back, and I was shocked at where the hymen actually was located and its functions and such …
    With so much emphasis put on “purity” and the hymen and all, I think there’s is a disservice being done, because it leads people to believe the first time is supposed to be “special.” When, in fact, the whole hymen deal is just so “mysterious,” because of a lack of dialogue, that it would scare the shit out of most people.
    My female friends said they are afraid it might hurt, and my male friends say that are afraid that they might have “broken” their girlfriends.
    That’s no way to have sex.

  6. Kristen
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    “I go through those same feelings every time I eat an apple.”
    Especially those organic fuji apples….Ooooo….
    I need a cigarette.

  7. Marissa
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I loved this post. It shows the hypocrisy on every level. Girls discouraged from being sexual in a sexually explicit way.. Just like the good ol bait and switch where women are told to be sexual in every media facet but once one goes into the sex industry they are publicly ostracized.
    The double standard of virgin girls and who cares what the boys do because they aren’t judged on the basis of their sexuality.
    And AIDS awareness that could give a shit about people with AIDS or realistic workable solutions to preventing AIDS.

  8. Ismone
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    My dad (the agnostic) was always skeptical that it was an apple. “Who would want to give up eternal life in the garden for an apple. Now a peach, on the other hand . . .” He was thrilled when something came out that suggested apple was a mistranslation.
    I have noticed before the extreme eroticism in the writings of chaste women, whether it is projected on the sex act others engage in (or here, Eve and the apple) or (for the Christians) in their description of Christ. I notice it, but am too kind to point it out.

  9. stanna
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Why is it, in this passage, that Adam ‘reminds’ Eve ‘many times’ not to eat the apple. But then once she does it, she just hands it to him and he eats it too? I thought he was all anti-apples?

  10. KeithIrwin
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I’m curious what the source of your information is. I was curious to see what the sexual integrity stuff was all about, so I googled “sexual integrity” and most of the stuff I found wasn’t a male alternative to sexual purity. It seems to be mainly focussed on faithfulness in the context of marriage (which in this case they define as including avoiding all lustful thinking about women other than one’s wife). The programs which were aimed at unmarried people seemed to be about as likely to be aimed at women as at men (if not more so). I think that the term “sexual integrity” is perhaps just meant to be a less loaded alternative to “sexual purity” that can be used with either sex. “Sexual Integrity” also often seems to be mentioned by Christians as an alternative to sexual addiction. So it doesn’t seem to me that the term is just the male version of purity. A better critique might be that they’re worried about the sexual integrity of both sexes, but only the purity of women.

  11. Andrea
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    ProFeministMale: “It shows how ignorant we males are on female sexuality, not because of stupidity, but because while women’s “purity” and bodies are constantly up for judgement and the talk of the town, their sexuality is never the center of conversation.”
    EXACTLY. Women’s bodies are put up as replications of something that doesn’t exist, a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy that has no original. Vague yet oppressive concepts like purity and the correct body are harmful and achieve nothing, while positive discussions of sexuality aren’t possible, since women’s real bodies are not considered in the discourse. There is no such thing as female sexuality under the fucked up purity model, since females as they see themselves don’t really exist. Nobody listens to what individual women actually say they need and want.
    Also, I’d MELT for a thick, juicy, succulent strawberry.

  12. Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Keith, either way, I think it’s irresponsible to teach sexual purity, whether it’s aimed at males or females, or both. They are essentially abstinence only education, and we know how well that works, given the CDC’s report from a few days ago.
    As for sexual addiction =- how much sex do I need to have, and how much sex do I need to desire, in order for me to be an addict?
    I think we’re all genital junkies, orgasm mainliners, sex addicts. :)

  13. Kimmy
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Keith, your Google skills need an update. Instead of so vague a term as “sexual integrity,” try Googling “Integrity Balls,” which are the things actually referenced in this post. Or, even faster, just follow the link provided in the post which will lead you to additional information on the topic. Either way, you’ll see that there are, in fact, Integirty Balls for mothers and sons that are meant to be the boys’ version of the girls’ Purity Balls.

  14. violetfishy
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Here is what I have never understood about the whole Adam and Eve and the apple thing – why did Adam eat the apple if he knew better? Or did he just do whatever Eve did, regardless of what he thought? If so, why?
    Why is the blame for being cast out of heaven put at the feet of Eve the “temptress” rather than at the feet of Adam for not having enough integrity or faith?
    (I was never christened, have never been to a Bible Study and have been in church…probably about 5x ever…so maybe these are very stupid questions but I seriously just don’t get it!)

  15. violetfishy
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Here is what I have never understood about the whole Adam and Eve and the apple thing – why did Adam eat the apple if he knew better? Or did he just do whatever Eve did, regardless of what he thought? If so, why?
    Why is the blame for being cast out of heaven put at the feet of Eve the “temptress” rather than at the feet of Adam for not having enough integrity or faith?
    (I was never christened, have never been to a Bible Study and have been in church…probably about 5x ever…so maybe these are very stupid questions but I seriously just don’t get it!)

  16. sage
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Stanna, that’s a really good question! It makes me realize, he COULD have said no, right, designed by God to be the smart leader of the pair, right? I mean, give Eve a break, snakes suddenly talking is pretty extraordinary, advice from a snake is pretty compelling, but Eve was just his buddy. She and Adam had had this “apple” conversation LOTS of times…why’d he listen to her if he’s so smart and used to leading? It’s not like she could tempt him with anything lustful, he had no lust, right?
    ‘Cause, gosh, had he just said no, he’d be the one whose purity would need protecting. He’d be the one the other sex is looking at nude more often. Women would just have to sit around with the snake designing fashion, conducting business and smoking cigars, wondering how it all went wrong, with naked men innocently skipping around them everywhere tending pretty gardens…and the poor women, reduced to human beings and not pretty icons representative of ideas like liberty, purity, kindness or youth, would have to leave all that to the men.
    Oh wait, maybe THAT’s why he said okay.

  17. Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I actually just asked a crazy Christian co-worker, about the whole apple thing, and here is the whole answer:
    “Eve was tempted by the snake. Apple was eaten. Adam watched. He then ate it when Eve gave it (the apple) to him. He ate it.”
    I asked why because he knew better. The answer.
    “We know we shouldn’t do drugs. But we do anyway. For some reason, women have been men’s biggest weakness since the beginning of time. And because of Eve, we see women always seeking a dominance over men. It’s a curse passed on from Eve.”
    I stopped talking to him. :X
    Sorry for bogarting this topic.

  18. harlemjd
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Violet – it’s not a stupid question. it’s just a question that churches don’t like their members to ask because it points out the stupidity of basing justifications of patriarchy on the story of Eden. Sure, Eve ate the fruit first, but she at least had to be convinced. Adam’s such a moron that he eats it just cause someone put it in his hand and told him to.
    Just like how the story of Samson and Delilah is supposedly about how women trick men who are attracted to him. Delilah doesn’t trick Samson; she flat out tells him that she’s loyal to her people (his enemies) and she wants to know the secret behind his super-human strength so that she can take it away. He lies to her twice, and she tries those methods. Then, for some unknown reason, he tells her the truth, and she does exactly what she promised to do – make him weak and turn him over to his enemies.
    The real moral of Bible stories is that men are sex-crased idiots – which is exactly what the MRAs and anti-feminists believe. How that translates into men being the only fit people to be in charge is totally beyond me.

  19. Madeline
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I think the point of having such a sexualized version of Eve eating the apple is to link the feelings young women have about sex to the Original Sin.
    I think the most despicable part of this description is not how “porny” it is, but rather how it attempts to attach all the emotional and physical sensations about sex directly to sin.
    Adam and Eve SHARE the apple, they take turns, she feels things she’s never felt before, she enjoys it. Wish my first time [having sex OR eating an apple, I suppose] had been like that! If this were a description of sex, it would be appealing and lovely. Unfortunately, the authors take the positive aspects of sex, albeit premarital, and try to make a direct link between sex and the fall from grace.
    I don’t think this is hypocritical. The authors know exactly what they are doing here. This kind of sexualized description is no mistake. It is intentional and it’s goal is to make sex and sin seem same to young virgins, thus hopefully scaring them out of even a good sexual experience until they’re hetero-ly married!!

  20. RedPersephone
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Most of the ideas about Eve and the ‘apple’ do NOT come from the Bible, but John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Nowhere in the biblical texts does it say that it was a particular kind of fruit. Other religious traditions (whose regions of origin don’t have apple trees) have other kinds of fruit, pomegranate is one (similar to the Persephone myth).
    Also put forth by Milton is the idea that Eve was told unequivocally to not eat the fruit. In one of the versions in Genesis, it’s not clear whether she knows at all. And Adam’s immediate acceptance of the fruit from Eve is a huge problem, of course, if one is trying to blame the woman for all the evils of the world.
    Finally, not all religions that have the myth of “the Fall” see it that way–some see Eve as a Pandora-like figure, bringing both good and bad into the world, as a necessary step for society to move forward.
    Our Western ideas have been so tainted by Milton’s slut-shaming of Eve that it’s definitely worth a second look at the primary texts (Genesis and the Quran). This is not to say that the texts are pure and infallible (far from it!) but that looking at them within their own cultural context is a valuable critique of current permutations.
    There are lots of good books and articles on Eve, and how the story may have been created to help explain the difficulty of living in the Middle East a few thousand years ago. One I would recommend is Discovering Eve by Carol Meyers.
    *rejoices that degree in religion is being used…sort of…*

  21. Andrew
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Profeminist male,
    There is no guage for how much sex you want to be a sex addict. To be an addict of gambling, sex or many others, all you need to to compulsivly indulge in the addiction, that you could not go with out it.
    A sex addict is often someone who is covering up deep rooted negative emotions with the temporary high of sex. I have personaly herd many accounts of how sex addiction, is more severe than crack.

  22. KeithIrwin
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Profeminist male: Since when did I say that I thought that it was a good idea? I didn’t say that I agreed with it. I am, however, concerned with accuracy.
    Kimmy: My googling skills are fine thank you. I had in fact already googled “integrity balls”. You know what I found? Dozens of posts on feminist blogs all linking back to the same one article in the Dakota Voice which I can’t even see because there’s some sort of redirect problem with their web site. One group, once, using “integrity” as being a male alternative for “purity” does not translate into that being its general usage.
    And to both of you: please cut this shit out. I’m tired of it. I’m not attacking anyone. I’m just asking questions. And every fucking single time I ask any question, I get attacked in response. This is the most inhospitable and unfriendly comments section I’ve ever posted in. I enjoy the blog, but I would like to be able to ask questions without being attacked, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

  23. ShifterCat
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Those are really interesting insights, RedPersephone.

  24. Posted March 14, 2008 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Keith – I am sorry you felt attacked. I wasn’t attacking you. I was merely responding to your point. I am sorry you felt attacked.
    Notice – I put a “smile” at the end of the post in response to yours to indicate I wasn’t attacking.
    We cool?

  25. KeithIrwin
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    ProFeministMale – rereading it, you’re right, I overreacted. It wasn’t an attack. I guess I just felt that way because it sounded to me like you were attributing positions to me that I don’t agree with. I felt like you were accusing me of being in favor of the “sexual integrity” stuff. I can see now that you didn’t really mean it that way. We’re cool.

  26. GopherII
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    “Here is what I have never understood about the whole Adam and Eve and the apple thing – why did Adam eat the apple if he knew better? Or did he just do whatever Eve did, regardless of what he thought?”
    Personally I always felt a sort of pride (even though I’m an atheist) that it was EVE that broke the limits and sought divine knowledge by eating “the apple” and it was Adam who was to inhibited to do it. Eve gave the apple to Adam, not the other way around.
    However, I feel incredibly stupid giving so much attention to fruits! How could humankind have existed so long with this religion “stuff!”

  27. Soundso
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Question!
    “The creature kept looking into my eyes and talking in a soothing voice.”
    How was this possible? I very clearly remember my Sunday school teacher explaining that Adam and Eve were blind/couldn’t see before they ate the fruit. It’s possible that my teacher was just simplifying it for us and the lack of sight was just a metaphor for their naivety, but I can’t be sure. Does anyone who knows better want to back me up? I guess it doesn’t matter much, but now I’m curious.
    Also, ditto to the person above who is proud to be lumped in with Eve despite their atheism. I never got the anti-Eve stuff when I was religious. I never understood the mindset that says it’s better to be imprisoned by your own foolishness and ignorance in a stupid garden than think for yourself and experience everything life has to offer.

  28. Caro
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Good points, RedPersephone. I tend to think of it as a Pandora-like story… if I remember my Sunday School right, it was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Without the fruit, sure, Adam and Eve would have gone on being “sinless,” but they also wouldn’t have had any real free will or the ability to be good. What I was always taught as a child is that as much as God doesn’t want us to sin, He doesn’t want us to be mindless obedience robots either, because then what’s the point? Unfortunately, free will and sin are a package deal, so voila.
    Long story short, I think RedPersephone is right that the “slut-shaming” aspects of the popular myth about Adam and Eve have overtaken a lot of the real theological significance.
    Oh, and on-topic: Purity/Integrity Balls still creep me out as much as the first time I heard about them.

  29. Kimmy
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Keith, relax. Nobody attacked you. Suggesting that you might not be the best in the world at internet searches is certainly not an attack.
    As an aside, as Feministing noted, some of the boys’ events are called “A Knight to Remember,” and here is an example of an abstinance organization talking about one of those. The link is to a PDF.

  30. ellestar
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting discussion.
    I remember rereading the Bible and Satan isn’t mentioned at all in the creation story. It’s just a serpent.
    I think the creation story is a ex post facto (did I use that right?) explanation for patriarchy. Child sees the world and asks Mommy, “Why do men have power over women?” or something similar.
    Early enough in human civilization in patriarchal societies, it seems as though someone (male) thought that the inequality must be women’s fault. They broke the rules in some way, so they’re punished by being second class citizens.
    There’s both Eve and Pandora that explain why women are “bad” but I’m not sure if there are similar parables in other religions.
    And Kate, I’ve never heard that Adam and Eve were actually blind, just metaphorically unenlightened.
    My favorite Creation story, a la Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake (1997):
    “And then the shit really hit the fan. God made man and woman, beautiful little miniatures of Him and her, and turned them loose to see what might become of them. The Garden of Eden…might be considered the prototype for the Colosseum and the Roman Games.
    “Satan…couldn’t undo anything God had done. She could at least try to make existence for His little toys less painful. She could see what He couldn’t: To be alive was to be either bored or scared stiff. So she filled an apple with all sorts of ideas that might at least relieve the boredom, such as rules for games with cards and dice, and how to fuck, and recipes for beer and wine and whiskey, and pictures of different plants that were smokable, and so on. And instructions on how to make music and sing and dance real crazy, real sexy. And how to spout blasphemy when they stubbed their toes.
    “Satan had a serpent give Eve the apple. Eve took a bite and handed it to Adam. He took a bite, and then they fucked.”

  31. caiis
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    About Pandora:
    In Greek mythology, beginning with Hesiod, Pandora was the first woman, a “beautiful evil,� sent to punish men after Prometheus gave them the secret of fire. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to create her and gods and goddesses gave her various gifts to make her more seductive.
    For this reason, in Works and Days, Hesiod gives incorrect etymology of Pandora’s name, as “all-gifted.â€? Pandora actually means “all-giving.â€? Before his mischaracterization, Pandora had characteristics of Gaia, a mother goddess. She was the giver of gifts, she symbolized the fertility of the earth and its capacity to bear food for humans.
    For example, in the Aristophanes’ play “The Birds,â€? he mentions a cult “to Pandora, the earth, because she bestows all things necessary for life.â€?
    Wikipedia has a little info on this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandora
    Look under the “mythic inversion� section.
    “Jane Ellen Harrison sees in Hesiod’s story “evidence of a shift from matriarchy to patriarchy in Greek culture. As the life-bringing goddess Pandora is eclipsed, the death-bringing human Pandora arises.” Thus Harrison concludes “in the patriarchal mythology of Hesiod her great figure is strangely changed and diminished. She is no longer Earth-Born, but the creature, the handiwork of Olympian Zeus.” Robert Graves, quoting Harrison, asserts of the Hesiodic episode that “Pandora is not a genuine myth, but an anti-feminist fable, probably of his own invention.â€?
    She isn’t the only goddesses that was disempowered and recharacterized. I find it all fancinating.

  32. Sarah Connor
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Hello all. first off i wasn’t gonna comment about the adam and eve thing but as everyone’s talking about i just wanted to say i’m not sure which religions believe that- i just know in ours it simply says they both ate the apple and got kicked out-eve was’nt blamed for anythingand the reason women have painful periods is not because of “eve’s sin” either.
    but what i wanted to say was-if people want to promote their beliefs that ok. what i cant stand though is DOUBLE STANDARDS. boys are asked not to sleep with these girls to “protect them for their future husbands”. WTF?! if you’re gonna preach about girls being pure why not boys too? it just seemed disturbing as it sounded like “don’t ruin her because she’s gonna be SOME GUYS PROPERTY someday and if you fuck her we can’t sell her”. i’m all for remaining a virgin until marriage-but not when its touted that your worth as a human being is based on it!

  33. Mina
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    “Also: This “integrity” line of reasoning has always caused me to wonder: Does this mean dudes can maintain their integrity by just sleeping with other dudes?”
    …or by having anal sex with women, if they think having a hymen means being a virgin; Or by raping women, if they think rape doesn’t count as sex…
    “When, in fact, the whole hymen deal is just so ‘mysterious,’ because of a lack of dialogue, that it would scare the shit out of most people.”
    One thing I didn’t know until very recently is that the hymen can actually recede over the years. Even if you never put anything in your vagina, you’re still not likely to have a hymen at age 40.
    “Sure, Eve ate the fruit first, but she at least had to be convinced. Adam’s such a moron that he eats it just cause someone put it in his hand and told him to.”
    I heard that in Islam that’s a pretty standard interpretation of the Qu’ran’s version.

  34. Persephone
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Sexy story. Woot!

  35. AnnaSoror
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I can totally see a market for Eden porn.

  36. unicornacopia
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    I just discovered this blog and I enjoy it so much!
    I study the Hebrew Bible at the graduate level, generally utilizing feminist and queer theory. I feel compelled to comment because I am sick of Genesis, particularly chapters 1-3, being used to justify female subordination. Misogyny is not inherent within the biblical text, but is created by interpretors with specific agendas.
    many justify male dominance over women through the reading that the male is the first to be created.However, in Genesis 1:27-28, we are introduced to “ha-adam,” which should be translated as “earth creature,” not as a solitary male figure. Sexual differentiation does not occur until woman is formed in Genesis 2:21. In fact it is “issa”-woman, who changes “ha-adam” from “earthcreature” to man. Therefore, in the semiotic sense, woman is first formed, not man.
    A great deal of emphasis is placed upon the woman (I am reluctant to call her “Eve” because she has not been named yet) deceiving the man. However, through a close reading it is apparent that this is not possible. The man is present the entire time the woman converses with the serpant and therefore should be able to make his own informed decision. While the woman is the active character, the man is passive and is ultimately unable to admit his transgression. In fact, in Genesis 3:12, he actually blames God.
    If anyone is punished in Genesis, it is the man, not the woman. In Genesis 3:23-24, the man is forced to leave the garden, but there is no mention of the woman. Therefore, we can imagine that she may come and go as she pleases.
    Oh, and there is no apple.
    The lurid fruit orgy scene, in the “lies” book is ridiculous. Another example of how commentary is more patriachal then the text itself.

  37. unicornacopia
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I just discovered this blog and I enjoy it so much!
    I study the Hebrew Bible at the graduate level, generally utilizing feminist and queer theory. I feel compelled to comment because I am sick of Genesis, particularly chapters 1-3, being used to justify female subordination. Misogyny is not inherent within the biblical text, but is created by interpretors with specific agendas.
    many justify male dominance over women through the reading that the male is the first to be created.However, in Genesis 1:27-28, we are introduced to “ha-adam,” which should be translated as “earth creature,” not as a solitary male figure. Sexual differentiation does not occur until woman is formed in Genesis 2:21. In fact it is “issa”-woman, who changes “ha-adam” from “earthcreature” to man. Therefore, in the semiotic sense, woman is first formed, not man.
    A great deal of emphasis is placed upon the woman (I am reluctant to call her “Eve” because she has not been named yet) deceiving the man. However, through a close reading it is apparent that this is not possible. The man is present the entire time the woman converses with the serpant and therefore should be able to make his own informed decision. While the woman is the active character, the man is passive and is ultimately unable to admit his transgression. In fact, in Genesis 3:12, he actually blames God.
    If anyone is punished in Genesis, it is the man, not the woman. In Genesis 3:23-24, the man is forced to leave the garden, but there is no mention of the woman. Therefore, we can imagine that she may come and go as she pleases.
    Oh, and there is no apple.
    The lurid fruit orgy scene, in the “lies” book is ridiculous. Another example of how commentary is more patriachal then the text itself.

  38. unicornacopia
    Posted March 14, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    I just discovered this blog and I enjoy it so much!
    I study the Hebrew Bible at the graduate level, generally utilizing feminist and queer theory. I feel compelled to comment because I am sick of Genesis, particularly chapters 1-3, being used to justify female subordination. Misogyny is not inherent within the biblical text, but is created by interpretors with specific agendas.
    many justify male dominance over women through the reading that the male is the first to be created.However, in Genesis 1:27-28, we are introduced to “ha-adam,” which should be translated as “earth creature,” not as a solitary male figure. Sexual differentiation does not occur until woman is formed in Genesis 2:21. In fact it is “issa”-woman, who changes “ha-adam” from “earthcreature” to man. Therefore, in the semiotic sense, woman is first formed, not man.
    A great deal of emphasis is placed upon the woman (I am reluctant to call her “Eve” because she has not been named yet) deceiving the man. However, through a close reading it is apparent that this is not possible. The man is present the entire time the woman converses with the serpant and therefore should be able to make his own informed decision. While the woman is the active character, the man is passive and is ultimately unable to admit his transgression. In fact, in Genesis 3:12, he actually blames God.
    If anyone is punished in Genesis, it is the man, not the woman. In Genesis 3:23-24, the man is forced to leave the garden, but there is no mention of the woman. Therefore, we can imagine that she may come and go as she pleases.
    Oh, and there is no apple.
    The lurid fruit orgy scene, in the “lies” book is ridiculous. Another example of how commentary is more patriachal then the text itself.

  39. Mina
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    “With so much emphasis put on ‘purity’ and the hymen and all, I think there’s is a disservice being done, because it leads people to believe the first time is supposed to be ‘special.’”
    The other extreme can suck even worse. I once saw someone pretty much claim that if a female virgin refuses sex with a guy while sober then he fucks her while she’s passed out drunk, it wasn’t rape because she was just being too picky about her first time when sober, he did her a favor by getting her first time out of the way so she could get over that pickiness and feel better about putting out for him next time, and expecting him to try to understand why another person might not agree with him is unfair to unpopular guys who need sex too. o_O
    “I just discovered this blog and I enjoy it so much!”
    Welcome!
    BTW, site upgrades are on the way but for now the server can be pretty slow here. Next time, I recommend giving the server at least a few minutes to process the post, then reloading the page, in order to tell whether or not your post went through. Likewise, whenever you come back to the front page, reload it to make sure you’re not just seeing the version you saw last time you clicked the bookmark or whatever. :)

  40. graceface
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    First time commenter here. I’ve just got to say that I’m finding the discussion about Adam and Eve really interesting and enlightening. And I’m also reminded of Pulman’s his Dark Materials where the fall from grace was unequivocally a good thing.

  41. heller
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I am disturbed by the anti-virgin tone of some of these posts (i.e. being a virgin on your wedding night will totally mess you up psychologically.) Now, I admit being completely ignorant of sex, in the way many religions espouse (sorry couldn’t pass up the pun), WOULD be a bad idea. But, I was a virgin when I got married. I was not totally ignorant. I had engaged in lots of kissing, mutual masturbation, reading erotica, etc. I didn’t see how penetration, or oral sex, would make a big difference, and it didn’t–at first. Now that my husband and I have figured out what we are doing–HOORAY SEX! I am NOT saying that remaining a virgin until you get married is the best way to do things, I am just saying it is not as bad as some of these posts suggest, and that there are some positives, also: NO chance of getting pregnant. NO chance of getting an STD. (The reasons I chose not to have sex before I was married.) It is really ignorance that is the problem.

  42. judgesnineteen
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Keep in mind that some Christians (I say some because let’s be real, some just read Adam and Eve, Noah, and the gospels) read and believe in Paul’s interpretation of the Adam and Eve story. Paul and/or whoever wrote the letters attributed to him, anyway, there are debates on some of them. But he says things like that Eve was deceived and Adam wasn’t, which makes sense, but then from that he draws the conclusion that women should be subordinate to men – 1 Timothy 2 (one of the most sexist parts of the New Testament). And yet he puts the blame for the fall of humankind, which I think he probably would have called mankind, on Adam, and calls Jesus the new Adam that un-does what was done. Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15. Some Catholics call the virgin Mary the new Eve, meaning this time the woman did what she was told.
    The fruit-eating aside, Paul or whoever also says that because Adam was made first, men are in some way superior to women. That’s in 1 Timothy 2 again, and also, one of my faves, 1 Corinthians 11. Just two chapters before all the pretty love stuff. One of the most ignored parts of the NT, because it says women should wear veils and specifically gives a culture-transcending reason for this, but Christians just say it was cultural (in that society, apparently it meant you were a prostitute if you were a woman with uncovered hair) and doesn’t apply anymore and that way they don’t have to deal with the sexism (or the fact that it’s not entirely logical).

  43. judgesnineteen
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Unicornacopia, I’m with you on the rest of what you said, but how can you say the woman isn’t punished in Genesis 3? This is copied from Biblegateway.com (NIV):
    “16To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”
    Also, I just tried to post something that isn’t showing up…weird. I was just saying that the more Bible-reading Christians see the Adam and Eve story through the lens of Paul’s letters, which do draw conclusions from it about how it means women should be subordinate to men. See Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15 on how Adam is the one to blame for the fall of humankind, but also 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 11 on how because of Adam and Eve, women just aren’t quite as good as men.

  44. GopherII
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    “NO chance of getting pregnant. NO chance of getting an STD.”
    heller,
    You can get STDs from kissing and you can get pregnant from not having penis-vagina sex. Theyre plenty of stories about women who’ve had sperm get on their thigh (or around the genital area)only to end up impregnating her. You can also pass STDs from mutual masturbation if you touch each others genitals. My high school followed a loose abstinence only curriculum and I remember the teacher claiming it was 100% effective against STDs and pregnancy-erm…nope. Luckily I knew the curriculum wasnt informative and sought information on my own (love Planned Parenthood website), and found the class was seriously lacking in competent guidance.
    I dont know why anyone would feel the need to wait until theyre married to have sex – thats wasted time!

  45. Jimbo
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    “Misogyny is not inherent within the biblical text, but is created by interpretors with specific agendas.” – unicornacopia
    Excellent post unicornacopia. I’m amazed at how frequently people (whether they identify themselves as believers in the God of the Bible or not) will take lines, passages, or even whole chapters of the Bible totally out of context, and thereby miss whatever it was that the text actually had to say. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it said or seen it written that the orginal sin in the Bible was sexual relations, when the text itself states that, prior to the transgression, the creator instructs his creations to be fruitful and multiply, something that would be quite impossible to do without sex.
    You also make the excellent point that the female was not named Eve until after the transgression. Prior to the fall the male and female in the Bible were equal parts of the one. In fact, if we go back further in the text, the male and the female literally were one. The creator God in the Bible made the human in his own image, male and female; that is, just as the creator God in the Bible is neither male nor female (or, more accurately perhaps, is all male and all female) so too was the first human all male and all female, fully capable of reproducing without a partner. When the creator later decides that it would be better for the human not to be one, he removes the feminine side (I wonder if “rib” for “side” comes from the same place “apple” for “fruit” does) from the human, thus creating a “male” and a “female”, equal King and Queen, Lord and Lady over the rest of the planet. Of course, all that falls apart after the transgression, as all the bad stuff happens, or, to put it more appropriately, all the shit hits the fan. Sin has entered with all its consequnces and the male, no longer one with his creator, no longer sees the female as his equal, but now considers her as nothing more than the mother of his children (the literal translation of “Eve”). While it probably should not be surprising that people will (mis)quote any popular/respected source to justify their positions of power, it’s mind staggering to me that people who claim to follow and obey the creator God of the Bible would use this passage as a justification for societies built upon a male hierarchy, when the text itself in context makes it clear that this is not how the creator God of the Bible intended nor desires for it to be.

  46. GopherII
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    According to the
    book, “Misogyny: The Worlds Oldest Prejudice,” by Jack Holland, Eve was used as a way of preserving priesthood solely for men because according to St. Aquinas “Adam was beguiled by Eve, not she by him,” and that it was essential for men to be priests “so that he did not fall a second time through her female levity.”
    (profeministmale)
    “I actually just asked a crazy Christian co-worker, about the whole apple thing, and here is the whole answer:Eve was tempted by the snake. Apple was eaten. Adam watched. He then ate it when Eve gave it (the apple) to him. He ate it.”
    We know we shouldn’t do drugs. But we do anyway. For some reason, women have been men’s biggest weakness since the beginning of time. And because of Eve, we see women always seeking a dominance over men. It’s a curse passed on from Eve.”
    (RedPersephone)
    “Most of the ideas about Eve and the ‘apple’ do NOT come from the Bible, but John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Nowhere in the biblical texts does it say that it was a particular kind of fruit. Also put forth by Milton is the idea that Eve was told unequivocally to not eat the fruit. In one of the versions in Genesis, it’s not clear whether she knows at all.”
    (Kate)
    “I very clearly remember my Sunday school teacher explaining that Adam and Eve were blind/couldn’t see before they ate the fruit.”
    (Sarah Connor)
    “I just know in ours it simply says they both ate the apple and got kicked out-eve wasn’t blamed for anythingand the reason women have painful periods is not because of “eve’s sin” either”
    It seems that alot of the stories told about Eve are misinformed and distorted by the very authoritys entrusted to teach it. Perhaps if they actually attempted to get it right through research and discernment they would realize the aimlessness of it all and see that all this religious crap was formuated by sexist men who sat around in the desert for WAYYY to long coming up with stupid crap from their uneducated, unscientific minds?This kind of propaganda reminds me of my first intro to the Big Bang theory when I was about 8 at Bible class. The teacher took a giant box filled with all sorts of stuff, shook it, and then exclaimed, “see, you didnt see anything get created did you, so how could this world come from an explosion?” Even then, I was sarcastic to the whole thing. I worry we allow this kind of brainwashing to permutate the societal common sense, and end up brainwashing our vulnerable youth. Its especially eerie to watch the right-wing religious zealots and their open endorsement of brainwashing and lies, without anyone inhibiting them.

  47. Kmari1222
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it’s too anti-virgin, I think its anti-abstinence only ed.
    “I dont know why anyone would feel the need to wait until theyre married to have sex – thats wasted time!”
    I totally understand why some people would want to wait for some reasons mentioned above: std’s and pregnancy. That’s why I don’t do shit, because I’m not emotionally prepared to handle a crisis if one ever came up. So I totally get it. If you aren’t ready, you wait.

  48. Mina
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    “I don’t think it’s too anti-virgin, I think its anti-abstinence only ed.”
    Yeah, that’s the impression I got too.
    “‘I dont know why anyone would feel the need to wait until theyre married to have sex – thats wasted time!’
    “I totally understand why some people would want to wait for some reasons mentioned above: std’s and pregnancy.”
    Also, what about privacy?
    Some people don’t feel comfortable having sex while their parents are listening in (not even if their parents approve of the sex).
    Some people don’t have any chance to have sex more than one thin wall away from their parents until they marry.
    Some people are both.
    “That’s why I don’t do shit, because I’m not emotionally prepared to handle a crisis if one ever came up. So I totally get it. If you aren’t ready, you wait.”
    Right on! I’d add, “no matter why you don’t feel ready.”

  49. GopherII
    Posted March 15, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    “Some people don’t feel comfortable having sex while their parents are listening in (not even if their parents approve of the sex).”
    Yeah, that blows. My remark about ‘who could wait to have sex’ was solely in referance to those who believe abstinence only is best because a woman is supposed to be chaste and virginal – not necessarily pushing someone to have sex. Obviously that would ruin the whole origin of why soemone would want to.

  50. hellotampon
    Posted March 16, 2008 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    wow, whoever wrote that Eve story must have had some guilty premarital sex of her own.
    although personally it reminded me more of my first time taking LSD than my first time having sex.

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