4 April 2014
“Adam and Eve” Creation Story and its Ties to the Oppression of Women In most cultures, women are seen as subservient to the “dominant” male figure within the cultural norm of the society. The Western culture is no different in the fact that women have been oppressed and continue to be oppressed today. There are layers and underlying reasons as to why this has become a cultural “norm” in many areas. Specifically regarding the Western Christian culture, the bible’s creation story “Adam and Eve”, sets the stage for the constant denial of women’s rights and abilities. Throughout the Christian period, the story of Eve has provided men with a reason why they should restrain and restrict the social, sexual, religious, political, and economic freedom of women (Womcombe). To understand and define why the oppression is so static of women based on the creation story, recognizing the message the story brings, and lastly how this idea is still undoubtedly rooted in the Western culture today will help the overall idea of what creation is to women. Grasping the idea of the Genesis story will help better recognize the women’s oppression that came from the stories plot and themes. Chapter one describes seven days accounting for what God made each day. The way in which man and woman were created in the book of Genesis has placed a dominant submissive outlook on the genders since the beginning of time. Genesis chapter two is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. Genesis 2:7 says “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man become a living being” (Zondervan) After creating the man, God decided to create the women by saying, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”(Zondervan). In Genesis 2:22-23 it says “Then the Lord God made a women from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” The man said “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man (Zondervan). Based on this part of Genesis, it seems rather fulfilling to be the male gender. Not only is the man made first in the image of god, but women are made from the makings of a man. This dominant, master, and creational outlook has given men and society ever more the ability to justify the oppression, subservient lifestyle, and the cruelty that is evident even in the 21st century. Now, Genesis chapter three is the fall of Adam and Eve, and most commonly believed to be the fall for all of mankind. As most have come to understand either from hearing references or a sermon, the story of Genesis chapter three is all due to the woman, Eve, who gave into her temptation and ate from the tree of knowledge and evil (Zondervan). People have read the passage and have felt right to blame the female gender as a whole based on what Eve did in creation, because had she not, pain would not have come into this world (Zondervan). Whether or not one believes the Bible was inspired, is truthful or was translated in some of the wrong context, the Book of Genesis has served as the primary source in the West for definitions of gender and morality. For the last 2,500 years it has underpinned the perception of sex and gender and has influenced how men and women see themselves and the opposite sex. Eve has represented the fundamental character and identity of all women afterward. (Womcombe, 2000). This book of the Bible has shaped the way the female gender has been treated and viewed, mostly due to what Eve did in the garden. Eve represents everything about a woman that people think a man should guard against, both literally and symbolically. Eve is woman, and because of her, the prevalent belief in the West has been that all women are by nature disobedient, weak, prone to temptation, untrustworthy, seductive, and motivated by self-interest. No matter what woman are capable in this world, the message of Genesis warns men not to trust them, and women not to trust themselves. In a sad and Western view of the world, woman are associated with Eve. Why is Eve so responsible in the Garden of Eden? Why isn’t the man just as responsible? Interpreters tend to blame only Eve for succumbing to temptation in the garden, even though it has been recently found that Adam was present and shares the responsibility for the disobedience (Diepstra and Laughery). There are many reasons people argue Eve’s decision making process and the fate of the world being on her shoulders. One interesting theory is the many different ways that the bible has been translated, and how it could have been translated in a different way to portray certain people’s views. Parker suggests that English translations of Genesis 3:6 leave out two quintessential words. The verse says “And she gave also to her husband with her and he ate.” The two words that are left out and frequently isolate the woman are “with her”(Parker). By leaving out these two words, Eve has a stronger assumed guilt than having the words within the text. Adam was present with her to eat the fruit. At which point he could have stopped the action from happening in the first place (Parker). While some translators consider with her to be insignificant in Gen 3:6, Hebrew grammars, commentaries, ancient sources, fifty English translations of Gen 3 argues that neglecting to translate this word has important ramifications. Bibles that do not mention that Adam was “with her” facilitate interpretations that excuse the man and condemn the women (Parker) Genesis 3:6 is the verse that is most condemning to women. If the translation was complete, attaining the words “with her” there is a good chance that women would have been less accused beings that Eve and Adam would have to be accountable to the situation as well. If the story was told in such a way that the man and women were both accountable, the condemnation and the subordinate view of the story wouldn’t exist. If this view did exist women would have the ammunition to fight against the oppression and a valid argument to show that it is not only women that failed God, but humans themselves. The creation story has a big effect on women as a whole solely based on Eve’s decisions. Only recently has it been noted that two words can change the entire meaning of Eve’s mistake, and makes it the mistake of both of the parties involved. It also must be noted that there are many verses in the Bible that puts women as subservient, and has given people the idea that women are not equal to men since the Bible. Feminism is in revolt against the idea that women are insignificant as compared to a man. Women have proved that they can do anything as well as a man can do, and have been oppressed for far too long. Even though there are many underlying reasons that women are not equal to men, the creation story put this idea and practice into strict compliant motion. To close, it is important that a person know and understand why there is so much difference, double standards, and oppression of being a female in a male dominated world. Undoubtedly though, gender equality has gone leaps and bounds from even the 1960’s. Without activists for the women’s movement as well as the articles and theorists that are sited, feminism would not be where it is today. The creation story proves that some of the reasons behind the oppression of women are ill-informed and unjustified, which will further the fight for gender equality.
Diepstra, George R., and Gregory J. Laughery. “Interpreting Science and Scripture: Genesis 1-3.” European Journal of Theology 18.1 (2009): 5–16. Print. Parker, Julie Faith. “Blaming Eve Alone: Translation, Omission, and Implications of ×”×ž×¢ in Genesis 3:6b.” Journal of Biblical Literature 132.4 (2013): 729–747. Print. Witcombe, Christopher. "Eve and the Identity of Women: 1. Eve and Women." Eve and the
Identity of Women: 1. Eve and Women. Web. 26 Apr. 2014
Zondervan. NIV Holy Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2012. Print.