Guest Post by Tina. Tina enjoys nature, art, and reading. She is nearly complete with a graduate degree in trauma informed teaching and loves asking questions to learn more about the world.
One January a few years ago I listened in horror as the sacrament meeting speaker, while relating the story of his grandpa’s life, repeatedly stated that his grandma gave up everything important to her to support her husband in his career. This speaker seemed to have internalized the idea that women exist to support men. That the speaker was a 14-year-old boy gave me pause to soberly consider how this boy will treat girls and women as he grows to adulthood.
Where does the view of women existing primarily to support men originate? I suggest that we look at our interpretation of the Eve and Adam creation story. Christianity typically interprets Genesis 2 as Adam being created, God declaring that it is not good for Adam to be alone, and then taking one of Adam’s ribs to form Eve. For hundreds if not thousands of years, this interpretation has been used to support male headship, male priesthood, and female secondary status. After all, in this telling, Adam is the main character and Eve is derivative of and subordinate to a man.
This interpretation and assignment of my worth and status as a female permeated my experience and psyche as I grew up in the church. The effects of this interpretation continued well into adulthood. “Are women fully human who exist independently of men?” An answer of ‘no’ supports the paradigm that women exist to support men. It is this answer that justifies thousands of years of female subjugation.
The answer to this question has long been, and still is, debated by men. It is the question underlying the paradigms of how women and men relate to each other in society and especially in the church. It is the question underlying all other questions: Can women vote? Can women do certain jobs? Can women go to college? Can women serve on juries? Can women work if they are pregnant? Can women have bank accounts in their own names? Does a woman’s body fully belong to her or is she an object called walking pornography or a barn that must be painted before a man is willing to buy, excuse me, marry her? Do her life choices fully belong to her or must she be continually reminded that the choice has been made and that there is one acceptable path of wife and mother? Is a woman human enough to pass out towels, witness a baptism, hold her own baby while they are blessed, pass sacrament trays to a congregation, pray in General Conference, or hold an office in the priesthood of God, Elohim, who consists of both the Eternal Father and the Eternal Mother?
Is any person who is a ‘she’ fully human?
Yes! I mean, I think so. Except for all those times when I am told by my parents, the church and sometimes society, implicitly or bluntly, that I am deformed male; not quite human. Over the years as I tried to hold my ground and stand in my truth, a quiet little voice sometimes wondered if what they said could be true. And so I spent years stunting my development by squeezing my thoughts, choices, and physical body into a box of parental, church, and societal female acceptability. Eventually the slowly simmering heat from the pressure squeezing me inside the box reached a point where I burst into a flame. My mental health in tatters, the flame reduced my psyche to ashes over the following months.
Shattered into nothingness, I cried out for help. Wrapped in comfort by the Divine Feminine, I have spent the last several years rising from the ashes like a brilliant Phoenix infused with new life. I now intend to encourage others by sharing that it is possible to heal from woundedness.
Reexamining our collective and personal interpretations of Eve’s creation is a foundational place to begin healing because the interpretation of that story is where the woundedness originates. We have only a portion of the creation account. This story was passed along orally during a time when there is evidence that partnership societies existed. By the time this account was written, however, the dominance of men over women in the structure known as patriarchy was well established. The story, which likely changed over time, was recorded under the paradigm that viewed women as secondary. It is this view that persists today. And yet, I do not see how the current prevailing interpretation regarding Eve’s creation is supported by the fragment of the story we do have. In Genesis 1, both female and male are created at the same time by God. In Genesis 2, the ‘adam’ is not designated either male or female; ‘adam’ in Hebrew means human. Some scholars and theologians believe that this first human was andrognynous. From this perspective, the female was not taken from a man’s rib (side is a more accurate translation) but that this andrognynous human was divided from its side into two individuals.
We all have both female/male, yin/yang energy within us. To become more fully developed, we nurture these energies inside ourselves, our families, churches, and communities to full expression and balance. Eve was not created because Adam needed an accessory. At the same time, it is true that we need each other. However, women must be recognized as individuals fully human in their own right. Some men, especially in the church, are uncomfortable hearing the painful experiences of women; it seems to offend or scare them. If men have been told they are special for being men but now women are special too, where does that leave them? Perhaps they do not yet know that they are fully human too.
It is time to return to partnership where all people are fully human and have opportunities to grow. For too long we have been frozen in a place of valuing only the masculine. Awareness of the Divine Feminine is waking up in many people. It reminds me of the part in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe where the inhabitants of Narnia see the snow melting and the Beaver says:
“Aslan is on the move- perhaps has already landed.” And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different.”
I see the snow melting; I see stirrings for humanity to move forward and I can not help but say that She is on the move. Perhaps She has already landed.