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Blood comes before the scar; hunger before the apple.

–Leslie Jamison, “Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain”

 

“Defensive”

1. defending or protecting someone or something from attack: helping to keep a person or thing safe


2. behaving in a way that shows that you feel people are criticizing you


 

It’s not my fault the new rosebushes didn’t get watered. I was running errands, taking the kids to soccer and music lessons, and I have an essay for American Lit due tomorrow. Why didn’t you do it?

When my husband complains, I first point out that it’s not my fault, and then point out why he is culpable instead.

It’s not my fault the dinner burned. I had to get our son into the shower, and make our daughter do her homework, and couldn’t you hear the oven timer?

But more often than not, my husband was merely stating that the rosebush was suffering because everyone forgot to water it. He didn’t mention the burned dinner other than to ask, what’s that smell?

I grew up in south Louisiana’s Bible Belt. I read my Picture Bible, with its comic strips, until I knew all the stories. There were plenty of moments where Jesus gave women grace and forgiveness—the Samaritan woman at the well and Mary Magdalene come immediately to mind. But the women in the Old Testament were out of luck. Jesus wasn’t born yet.

Eve, the first woman, ruined the world. Way to go, sister. You started us off on the wrong foot before there were any other female feet in existence. Women are still getting judged for that bad first impression. So kind of you.

If not for Eve, we would be living in the Garden of Eden (forever! Death hadn’t even been invented yet), eating exotic fruits, enjoying afternoon walks with God, and playing with friendly lions and tigers and bears. This is what I was taught in my deep Southern childhood—at church, home, and homeschool—and what I believed. Oh my. I later wondered how, exactly, I could have lived there, since sex seems to have been invented after the Fall of Man.

The Fall of Man is a misnomer; it’s actually the Fall of Woman but women couldn’t be in the titles of things.

 

A List of Things Eve Did Wrong

1. Talked to a snake

2. Believed the snake’s promise that eating an apple would bring her the wisdom of God

3. Bit the apple

4. Offered Adam a bite

 

weaver4I never thought the story was above-board. All the animals were friendly; in fact, everything was perfect. Why wouldn’t Eve trust the serpent? Had God warned her that Satan was out there, in the form of her friends? As for wanting to be like God, wasn’t that an admirable goal? She disobeyed an authority; all humans have, but she did it first.  Maybe we just take after her, our flawed mother. Maybe in defending Eve, I’m searching for another way to defend myself.

 

A List of Things Sarah Did Wrong

1. Yelled at her kids

2. Shrunk various pieces of Nick’s clothing

3. Killed plants by neglect

4. Allowed fear of math to delay college for twelve years

 

In the New Testament, we are instructed to strive to be like Jesus—to love one another, practice forgiveness, and not judge others.

 

Three Questions

1. Was Eve way ahead of her time?

2. Was she daring to reach too high for a woman?

3. Why didn’t she deserve a second chance?

 

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“Tempt”

1. to entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain                       

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.

It seems Adam is with Eve the whole time. He hears the serpent try to pull one over on his wife and he isn’t smart enough to figure it out. Or he doesn’t care enough to defend her. Or he isn’t paying attention. He’s human, like Eve.

Eve reasoned to Adam that, “The fruit looks delicious, it’s pretty, and it will make us smarter.”

Adam, in the placid manner of a distracted husband, said, “Sounds good, hun.”

How can the claim be made that Eve tempted Adam? She makes her own decision and hands him a piece of fruit so he can make his own. And he does. But only Eve ruined the world.

To the woman he (God) said,

‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;

in pain you shall bring forth children…’

weaver3The Treacherous Woman was always the point of the story. She got us kicked out of the prettiest garden that ever existed, and doomed us to horrible pain in childbirth. My parents told me birth would have been painless for women if Eve had not sinned. I wondered again about how sex and childbirth seems to be invented after the Fall. Were all births, if there were births, meant to be Virgin Births? Children aren’t even mentioned until after the Fall—like they’re part of the punishment.

…yet your desire shall be for your husband,

and he shall rule over you.

Apparently God also doomed me to lust after my husband, and to submit to him forever. The former seems more like a gift, the latter unenforceable.

And to the man he said…

cursed is the ground because of you;

in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread

until you return to the ground…

So Eve is doomed to pain, lust, and submission, and Adam to toil, sweat, and bread. Seems a little unequal, and I do detect a theme of gender roles: Adam eats bread but doesn’t bake it. We all know whose job that is.

Three-and-a-Half Confessions

1. Nick is a better cook than me.

1.5  And, thus, I’ve never made bread in my life.

2. I gave birth to three of my four children with no pain medication and while I don’t pretend it didn’t hurt, I ruled that shit.

3. While my desire is for my husband, he doesn’t rule over me; we walk through life hand in hand.

 

Some theologians—mostly Southern ones, it seems—believe Adam’s real sin was allowing his wife to step up and make a choice by herself. By not holding her under submission, and by loving her enough to follow her bite with his, he is labeled the first man to be pussy-whipped. I think it’s romantic to follow Eve in sin instead of watching her leave the Garden—banished alone—and waiting for God to take another rib.

 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

The name of the woman took a journey: from her Hebrew name “Chavah,” which is still in the Torah, through the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, and the early English translations, until her name was not Chavah, but Eve. I’ve called the woman by her name throughout. But she is simply called “the woman” or “Adam’s wife” until the end of Genesis chapter three.  After the woman sins, her husband gives her a name: Eve, mother of all living. If this sounds like an honor, remember the horrific pain it entails.

Why does ruining the world win her a name?

How can anyone be surprised that I am defensive?


All Bible stuff is from Genesis 3

All definitions are from the dictionary

All defensiveness is from me

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Sarah Weaver SARAH BROUSSARD WEAVER lives in Portland, Oregon, where she has one semester left in her undergrad program. She’s totally excited and a little devastated about that. Her work has been recently published in The Establishment, Literary Orphans, The Bitter Southerner, and Full Grown People. She can be found at sbweaver.com and on Twitter @sarahbweaver.

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