Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Adams Eve and Wunderbra...

On Notions of Original Sin and Contested Gendered Power

August being Women’s month saw a resurgence of numerous extended gender debate and dialogue around South Africa. One example in particular was the conference in Cape Town held by the Confederation of South African Workers Unions (Consawu) and its some 27 affiliates. The conference culminated with a march to parliament where a petition of rights and proposals was presented. In addition, a booklet was released that identifies human dignity, equality, slavery, and child and forced labour as well as issues and rights affecting women in the workplace in general, and the constitutional rights of domestic workers in particular.

Just recently, I debated the notions of gender and equality using the contested example of Original Sin, with a self-acclaimed free thinking individual who suggested that perhaps it was Eves feminist urge that spurred her on to take a bite out of the apple. And that, by inference, Adam was then easily persuaded to giving in to the temptation. If women are to take negative credence as asserted by Eve partaking in the forbidden fruit, then this, it turns out is certainly no tribute to men either.

If, at the basis of patriarchy is the eternally perceived sin of Eve in engaging the forbidden fruit, and enticing Adam to partake in the same, one might ask a rather obvious question (and often we lose sight of the obvious), i.e. why was Adam silent in all of this? Must Adam be assumed a passive compliant without the basis for rationale and beyond the knowledge of right and wrong? And so the story goes. The universal femme fatale is given credence. By manmade inference, the silence of Adam is understood to have been divinely sanctioned. And the sacred texts are thus convoluted by patriarchal explication. History is writ as a conclusive script. And both men and women are cast in their respective roles, playing out convenient stereotypes well in advance, to keenly encourage their non-subversion from the status quo.

And what exactly does this all mean for contemporary gender debates. My first response to labels in general and that of feminist in particular is: there is a wariness with which we might assume that Eve was a feminist. From that stems the spirit of a dizzying array of questions. Can it be argued that women are inbred with a feminist urge? And more succinctly, what is it to be a politically correct feminist? Labels have long been employed as the dividing tool; political strategy and political aptness a see-saw debate. In asking whether or not Eve was feminist, it might be imperative to ask whether or not she would fit into the image of the much debated fifties bra-burning activist or the contemporary Wunderbra revolutionary. My point is that, are we indeed moving onward to a more holistic and embraced notion of the female role in society. Contemporary women identify more responsively to an engaged femininity. So then we are accosted with a number of further interrogations: Should Adam have stood up for Eve? Was Adam meant to at least make a stand for himself so as to not engage in sin? Did Eve indeed take a bite to assert feminism? And, finally dare we assume at all that Eve was a feminist?

The measure upon which to decide is whether or not the Adam/Eve biblical metaphor serves as an adequate gender framework for contemporary relationship dynamics and if it does indeed transfer along historical and archetypal memory as a continued script. Human growth must proceed towards a fully realized potential, and this cannot be achieved without an equal platform of psychological and social encouragement for individuals of both genders. A mutually beneficial framework needs to be asserted within the social network in general and the relationship sphere in particular in order to maintain this encouragement, and this requires a relearning of many prior and deeply entrenched socialization features that inherently feed both mouths of the twin-headed monster of male domination and female subordination.

Lets face it, a self-respecting Adam, should have stood up for himself. And not quite so simply succumbed to temptation. And if he did, then universal heirs of the victim persona should not be passing blame. Indeed, what a waste this would be if Eve did, in fact, take a small bite for womankind. The challenges facing women in the socio-economic sphere are yet to be ironed out, and gendered spaces made a uniform place of opportunity for one and all. In order to ensure this, we must begin by questioning our pretexts, our understanding of male and female roles in society, and by unearthing our deepest set prejudices.


SingleGuy said...

I'm reminded of line from a brilliant movie about life, "My big fat Greek Wedding".

In it Mrs. Portocalous says to Maria regarding getting her father to agree to the wedding: "The Husband might be the head of the family, but the wife is the neck". meaning that the female had the power to persuade the male to see any perspective and thereby was more controlling....

KimyaShafinaaz said...

ooh i like that one.. i watched the movie but i dont quite remember that line.. but it works :P

..the wife is the neck.. graceful.. and moving :P

lol.. thanks 4that, SG

verbosity said...

hey kims

welcome back! thas a cool post on adamo and eva hey! you really think all those things about original sin? interesting new take on things usual.

keep writing
the verbose one

Anonymous said...

this whole feminist thing is a bit overrated kimSya



Anonymous said...

heres a question:

how does something that happened all that many millions ago still affect life today? you raised some interesting points but it may be a bit far-fetched. or may be not. we need to go back and look at how the original idea of adam and eve in the garden with the forbidden fruit was conceived and related to us as imagery etc. you do realise, that if hollywood picked up this script of yours we would have something adam sandler like to put up with!


Sofi said...

well written. feminism is seen as abit of derogatroy term and is flippantly and oft used in a defensive response to anyone questioning an inherently patriachal society/community or those who choose not to conform the chauvinism. and the adam and eve thing is somehow used to depict how weak the female species is and what problems this can lead to unless duly controlled.

oh crap..im beginning to sound like a feminist arent i?

diatribe said...


Poor Adam! The dude was so distracted trying to see behind the leaves and shit that he didnt know wot he was agreeing to! Y dont chicks just give us a break uh? Kim u know we luv ya for it but um u overanalyse EVRYTHING



KimyaShafinaaz said...

@ the verb: lol.. believe it or not, it was a tiny idea bobbing about my head until i had a chat with someone about it and all these ideas started flowing a bit erratic, but unstoppable :P

@ JT: i agree :)

@ sarah: hollywood commodifies everything.. im sure theyve done it already tho? are u referring to american beauty and the rose petals scene :/

@ sofi: thanks:) just cos u have interesting opinions doesnt make u sound like a feminist :P

@ diatribe: that is so like u to say that! lol. and yes i do tend to overanalyse hey.. occupational hazard. im a gurl :P

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we take this fruit thing a bit too literally? I like to think that Eve was merely a protagonist in a predetermined Act, Devinely written to teach man (ie mankind, a term referring to both men and women) a lesson in the consquences of our natural inclination to temptation.

But then again, what do I know, I'm just a crustacean :P


KimyaShafinaaz said...

oh my goodness! it LIVES, it Breathes! lol.. deadcrab! yea, tru.. wat do u kno hey, ur just a sideways moving dead crustacean :P

more seriously tho, if it werent for taking fruit seriously, we'd never have discovered fruit salad! reflect on that!