If God made man and woman equal, then where the heck did misogyny come from?
A solid definition of “misogyny” is in order here, I think. There are those who think misogyny is limited to acts of physical harm to women and those who think it’s misogynistic to hold a door open for a woman, so for the sake of clarity, let’s ask the Oxford English Dictionary:
“Hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women.”
Wikipedia (a model source, I know, but I don’t have an encyclopedia handy) clarifies that “Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.“
God created a sinless world. Hatred did not exist. Dislike did not exist (what was there to dislike in a perfect world?). In a sinless world, there was no room for discrimination, belittling, violence, or objectification. In the New Testament, God has to tell husbands to love their wives (Colossians 3:19), but this command wasn’t necessary in the Garden at the dawn of time. Adam loved Eve without needing reminders. There were only three rules that God placed on man: to be fruitful and increase in number (Genesis 1:28), take care of the garden (Genesis 2:15), and whatever you do, don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). There were no other rules necessary to make sure Adam and Eve played nice. There was no sin, no hatred and, by extension, no misogyny.
So what happened?
Enter this idiot:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).
The serpent is the Devil. Satan, the father of lies, he who led the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9). If there’s one thing this guy is really, really good at, it’s twisting God’s commands for his own purposes.
Eve replied, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” (Genesis 3:2).
(Eve takes God’s rule a little farther than God originally stated it. God never said touching the fruit would be a problem. In her defense, the law was given before she saw the light of day. Of course, God could have reiterated the law for her after her creation, but that moment is not recorded. It is just as likely that Adam told her touching the fruit would kill them. Or maybe she had made up her mind that she would not even touch the fruit to avoid being tempted to eat it. There are all kinds of possibilities here, but this digression takes us away from the point.)
The serpent scoffed, “You will not certainly die….For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5). The sad thing is that he didn’t lie–the fruit wouldn’t kill them, not immediately, and having discernment of evil as well as good would make them like God in that sense, but without His power. Satan made God sound like He was holding something back from her. How could a good, loving God place limits on the creation He supposedly loved? How could He? How dare He?
She took the bait. And Adam, who was with her (watching the whole thing and doing nothing to stop her), took it as well.
Sinless man was sinless no more. One act of disobedience was enough to tarnish them both irrevocably.
The blame shifting started immediately.
When asked why he took the fruit, Adam’s defense was “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12). His words simultaneously blame womankind and God for his own sin. Here Adam first said the words that have echoed throughout history, from blaming Helen’s beauty for the Trojan war to blaming the female vote for a declining America to saying a rape victim “shouldn’t have gone out dressed like that.” History shows us time and time again how men have blamed women for men’s own shortcomings. And it started here.
God required punishment for all three criminals in Genesis 3. Eve’s punishment is painfully familiar to women everywhere:
“To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
Painful labor is an understatement. Not only labor, but everything about the female reproductive system gives women pain from the time we hit puberty until the day we die. Every month, we’re reminded that we’re women with a painful sucker punch to the gut. It’s interesting to me that so many have justified discrimination against women on the basis of how our reproductive system works. Even in that aspect, our “labor pains” give us grief.
The second half of the punishment seems like less of an edict and more of a natural consequence of sin. Women’s desire would be for a man. Man would rule over woman. The perfect balance created in the garden was forever disrupted. Where once was harmony is dischord. Men would have to be told to love their wives when before it was a given. What was once intended to be the safest and most intimate human relationship was now a place of danger. Love could still exist, but it would always be tainted by a power struggle that was never intended to be part of the equation.
How many times have battered women been told to leave their abusive, domineering husbands? How many times have the women replied “But I love him” or “I know he’ll change?”
This is not what God wanted. This is not what God intends. What He wanted was a good world with good people, filled with harmony and beauty and love, without violence or hatred or death. Humans chose their own way. They chose evil.
And look what happened.
(P.S.: I know, I know, I’m not addressing the obvious question: “Why did God put the stupid tree of the knowledge of good and evil there in the first place?” That deserves a post of its own, but it’s a topic that, for now at least, doesn’t fit into my research. This question has been debated for centuries, so there are a lot of resources out there that cover the reasons why. This blog won’t be one of them. The reason that has always resonated with me is that God didn’t create robots. He created beings who were capable of choice. He wanted them to choose to love Him. They didn’t. God loved them anyway. It’s a long story, and we’ve barely started. Bear with me.)