BLAME THE LITTLE WOMAN…
One of the earliest stories to be told by mankind once he’d climbed from the primeval forests and was walking upright across the savannah had to do with evil. And that early story has been passed down through countless generations, and we’ve all been told it because the evil in it was the evil of supposedly the first woman, Eve.
I’ve always wondered at the story. It seemed wrong, somehow, to lay the blame for all that goes wrong in the world at the feet of the woman who was enticed to eat a forbidden apple. I may have ignored the serpent or snake: that may have merely been symbolic of a satanic power that existed in the minds of the early story-tellers. But why an apple? Why a woman? Surely, of the two genders, the one most likely to be susceptible to an evil influence is the male. Tell him he’s got a generously proportioned willy and he’ll be your friend for life! Admire his manly strength or well-toned torso and he’ll eat any number of forbidden apples out of gratitude. So why did the early story-tellers choose a woman?
I’m going to have a stab at answering that one.
Women are the gender that has the babies even though they only contribute around half the genetic material to create new lives, and because they scream their way to painful childbirth there can be no doubt that they are one of the two parents of the puling brat in the crib. There can, though, be less certainty about the other. Who, people may ask, is the father? Could it be Adam, Bert, Chris, Dave, Egbert or any other local bloke irrespective of what letter his name begins with? A multitude of men may want to claim fatherhood of the little monster because a multitude of men may have found the new mother to be totally desirable and had their wicked way with her, and who can remember exactly what happened nine months ago? Why, not even the mother may know! And the implication here isn’t just because she’s had a baby she’s morally degenerate!
As soon as it crossed the mind of a tribal chief that it would be nice if his son were to follow him in that exalted position he had to solve the problem of making sure that the lads who called him dad really were his sons. But how do you do that? You’re a tribal chief with all the responsibilities that implies, so you can’t be watching the little woman twenty-four hours every day to make sure another bloke doesn’t plant his seed in her even if you just have. So you must find an alternative.
There’s always the draconian punishment of any man who chanced to flash his genitals in the direction of the Chiefess. He could be suitable mutilated, maybe have those precious organs chopped off – or his head. But even that might not be fail-safe. She might still be a willing or unwilling participant in a piece of clandestine sexual congress, and get pregnant.
The chief may think he knows her, but does he? Does he really know what depths she’ll plumb when his back’s turned? And when the sought-for son has been born, don’t all babies look the same as each other if they’re of the same racial type, so how could he tell his own son from that of a stranger?
Doubt, doubt everywhere, and no such thing as a paternity test!
Women, he must have decided, can’t be trusted. Not with that particular truth, anyway. Many, many men have confused genital hugeness with a high sperm count (or they would have had they know what sperms were, but they probably understood fertility as a property of seminal fluid). So if they know that, despite their place at the head of the tribe, there may well be other blokes with considerably more length or girth or both, and their treasured Chiefess produces twins, it may creep into their irrational male minds that someone else has got at their little woman first.
That very event probably happened times many in pre-history. It gave birth to the idea that women can’t be trusted. If they’re ugly they’re a body to ease the frustrations from the mind of an equally ugly man and if they’re beautiful they might be raped, which would be their fault because of that very beauty.
Eve became the symbol of that distrust.
And all down the years since then women have suffered as a consequence, and in some primitive societies today still do. Remember the chastity belt? Remember regal beheadings in Tudor times? Remember the beatings handed out to wives who only may have strayed from the path of honour? Remember the stoning of rape victims even in this modern age in some male-centred societies?
And the old Adam and Eve story, complete with a magical garden still gets told and sometimes, once every so often, gets believed by religious fanatics who actually believe the ramblings left by the most primitive societies in the most primitive of times.
© Peter Rogerson 06.04.12