9/16/2010 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carol Putnam ~
This simple yet profoundly insightful question was posed by my neighbor's six-year-old daughter, Jillian. It was inspired by her twelve-year-old sister Sarah's recent emergence into womanhood, i.e. the onset of her first menses. Rather than try to put a positive spin on this life-changing and often traumatic event in a young woman's life, their mother—an Evangelical Christian—explained to the girls that this was the curse the great Jehovah put upon Eve for her disobedience in the Garden of Eden.
Image by d u .r. M a c i e l via Flickr
I nearly choked on my cucumber sandwich when I heard her say that. (Does anyone even use the term "The Curse" anymore? I wondered.) Apparently some ECs do. And in doing so, they continue to burden their daughters with the same guilt, shame and degradation that for thousands of years have kept women the world over subjugated by the specious dictates of an ectoplasmic tyrant with some serious misogynous issues. (And all this because of the transgression of one woman with a fruit fetish—a woman who never existed in the first place!)
I was deeply saddened and disturbed by what I'd heard that day, but I knew better than to argue with a brainwashed, brain-dead Evangelical. So, with little Jillian's question still burning through my mind, I decided to do my own research. With a King James Version (KJV) Bible in one hand and a copy of The Bible Handbook (published by American Atheist Press) in the other, I set out to see if I could find any evidence to support or disclaim the hypothesis: Does God hate women?
My first quest was to find out if "the curse" literally was a curse. As we've all learned from National Geographic and PBS, the treatment of women and women's issues in general seems to vary greatly from one culture to another. They range from the innocuous to the grisly. But since I—like Jillian and Sarah—was raised in a middleclass, Anglo-American Christian household, I will limit my experiences and observations to that socio-religious paradigm.
In addition to the research materials previously mentioned, I have also found an excellent Internet site that allows you to search the Bible by verse or individual word. (See www.biblestudytools.com). Further, you can compare various interpretations to see how biblical verbiage has been "tweaked" over the centuries, sometimes creating vastly conflicting and even contradictory meanings. (No surprise to an Atheist!) And while I did not find anything that referred to a woman's menstrual cycle as being the result of a "curse" per se, I did find numerous shocking—and even downright gruesome—passages pertaining to the treatment of women in general. (For brevity's sake, I will not quote entire passages in this article. Instead, I will synopsize the main points with KJV verse and chapter along with page numbers where references can be found in The Bible Handbook (TBH).
While not specifically referred to as a "curse," a woman's monthly cycle is repeatedly called a "sickness." Furthermore, during this time she is considered "unclean," (similar to the disease-riddled lepers of biblical fame.) This "uncleanness" is so odious in fact that if a husband should have intercourse with his wife during this time, both of them will be put to death. (Lev. 20:18 and TBH pg. 128). Numerous other references abound regarding the many asinine restrictions and punishments placed on women in this "unholy" physiological state.
Even the so-called miracle of childbirth carries with it an unsavory stigma. According to Lev. 12:1-8 (TBH pg. 72-73), if a woman gives birth to a son she is considered "unclean" for seven days. However, if she gives birth to a daughter she is unclean for two full weeks! How could giving birth to a precious baby girl make a woman twice as "unclean?" The passage goes on to say that the mother must then atone for this filthy sin by paying various forms of tribute to the priest.
Generally speaking, the social status of women in the Bible is on a par with the average farm animal. For instance, Deut. 22:20-21 (TBH pg. 127) tells us that a girl who has lost her virginity—reason not specified—should be dragged into the street and stoned to death by the men of the city. An even more heinous punishment for a similar crime was prescribed to the daughter of a priest (Lev. 21:9 and TBH pg. 213): "She shall be burnt with fire!" (So much for a god of love, compassion and forgiveness.) But perhaps the most culturally reprehensible and longest enduring "curse" against women comes from Exod. 22:8 (TBH pg. 118): "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." How many thousands of innocent women have been gruesomely tortured and murdered in the name of this hate-inspired commandment?
Throughout the Bible evil cities are always referred to in the feminine sense, e.g. "whoredom," "harlot," "adulteress." One such city, Samaria, pissed off the Big Guy so badly he declared, "They shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up." (Hos. 13:16, TBH pg. 241).
Perhaps the two most degrading and downright sickening stories that illustrate Jehovah's contemptuous attitude toward women are found in Gen. 19:8 (TBH pg. 204) and Judges 19:21-30 (TBH pg. 228). The first is the famous story of Lot in the town of Sodom. Rather than hand over his magical angel buddies to the Sodomites, for they would "do wickedly" unto them, this holy man of god offers instead to throw his two virgin daughters into their midst, telling the rapacious horde, "Do ye to them as is good in your eyes; only unto these men do nothing."
The second story is so vile, so repulsive that most fainthearted Christians, when I relate it to them, gasp wide-eyed and exclaim, "There is no such story in the Bible!" Oh, but there is. It begins with the Levite (a priest) traveling with his concubine (apparently a must-have for every righteous man of god.) They stop at the house of an old man. Soon a sex-crazed mob besieges the house, demanding to have their way with the Levite (sound familiar?) Like any good biblical father, the old man instead offers up his virgin daughter and the concubine to be ravaged, saying to the assailants, "Humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you." At this point the priest—obviously to protect himself—tosses his hapless concubine out the door. She is summarily beaten and gang-raped all through the night. In the morning she drags herself, mortally injured, back to "her lord" and dies on his doorstep. Rather than express grief or horror at her grisly demise, the Levite simply hacks her already-mutilated corpse into twelve pieces and ships them to the twelve tribes of Israel. In response to this ghastly fairytale, one must ask, why would a "loving god" condone such depravity? (I have yet to find a Christian or Jew who can tell me what the "moral lesson" of this outrageous fable is.)
The atrocities committed against women—and children—in the Bible are too numerous to recount (and difficult to stomach.) Many involve glorious acts of warfare in which the "chosen people" preemptively attack, slaughter, pillage, rape and burn, all at the behest of their one-true-god. One shining example of this holy massacre takes place in Num. 31:7-35 (TBH pg. 78). Moses, one of the main "super heroes" in Christian mythology, is personally directed by Jehovah to slay all the Midianite men and take the women captive. "Now," says Moses to his bloodthirsty marauders; "kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." (Note: Virgin girls, along with livestock, are specifically referred to as "prey" and "booty.")
Words fail to describe the level of depravity exemplified by these—and many other—verses in the purported "Good Book." Personally, I hold the Bible to be little more than a puerile collection of superstitious folktales and plagiarized mythology with a smattering of grossly inaccurate history, punctuated throughout by derivative philosophy. However, it is easy to believe that the aforementioned stories—horrific though they may be—are quite authentic. We have only to examine the very real modern-day atrocities being committed against women in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to see what faith-blinded theocrats are capable of.
So, to answer the question, Does God hate women?: Scriptural evidence does in fact demonstrate an almost psychotic prejudice and "divine contempt" for the female of our species. Have women therefore been cursed? To paraphrase my Evangelical neighbor, yes! However, the "curse" is no mere biological event. The true "curse" placed upon women down through the centuries can be summed up in a single word: Religion. And only by exposing these despicable stories can we hope to free our daughters from its odious spell forever.