Archive for December, 2010

December 6, 2010

by Kelly Clark

Roots

Today – a simple examination of the roots of misogyny in the USA.  Please let me know what you think!

The Biblical trope of woman as tempest is woven deep into our psyche.  The story of the first man’s slip into the sinful charms of the first woman has served to forever warn men of the need to keep vigilant in the presence of women while simultaneously suggesting women’s ultimate power over men; for Adam and Eve is as much a story of the power of the tempest as it is about the weakness of the tempted.  No doubt America’s Puritan ancestor’s were well versed in the Bible.  Disciplined reading of the Bible and strict adherence to is warnings and teachings was the glue that held early English settlements together. When one is embarrassed and made to feel weak a natural reaction may be to plot a course that insures never experiencing that feeling again.  Bullies are often born of this formula.  Thus misogyny may be said to be a bullying tactic.

We owe our pioneering spirit to yet another verse from Genesis, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”  Early Americans took this quite literally to mean tame the wilds of nature.  This same notion was also applied to people.  Those who seemed to be naturalistic or heathens; those who worshiped Mother Earth and Father Ski, the natives of the Americas and later slaves from Africa were quite literally subdued.  You might not be surprised to learn that women too were among this group that must be controlled. Women were seen as illogical creatures that relied on emotion and intuition. Women’s monthly cycles followed that of the moon thus eternally pegging them to nature, to the earth and her cycles.  This verse also laid out clear expectations for women in God’s plan, they were to be fruitful and multiply. Thus misogyny may be said to be a fascist tactic or one that seeks autocratic and dictatorial control over women.

Contempt, degradation, objectification, and ultimately hate and violence are all means by which to fiercely maintain the social order keeping men in power.  I don’t mean to imply that men have secret meetings quoting Genesis and other Bible verses to each other before nights of raping and pillaging. For the most part, these ideas are so old and so deeply woven into the fabric of who we are as a people, as a nation, that most cannot directly cite these roots. But they are our roots non-the-less and I do mean to imply that we are still playing them out.  How they twist and tangle with our notions of homosexuality and gender identity continue to be the focus of this blog.  Stay tuned.

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