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All About Eve— Sexualization is in the Eye of the Beholder

When it comes to women and religion, the figure of Eve is often pointed to as an excuse for female subordination. Eve was made from Adam’s rib; Eve was the one who tempted Adam; Eve was the originator of all sin— all the poor girl did was eat an apple from a tree and suddenly, the whole world was blaming her for their problems. Creation stories and religious extremists would like us to believe that Eve’s weakness was her downfall and that in turn, her femaleness was the key to Adam’s. She is painted as a temptress when in actuality,  the conversation could’ve really gone something like this:

ADAM: Hey Eve, let me have a bite of that apple, would ya? I’m starving over here.

And so on and so forth.

The main issue with this argument— that Eve is the rightful bearer of blame— is that her guilt rests on the century-old sexualization and degradation of her character by outside informants. When it came down to it, Eve didn’t have any more control over how her femaleness was perceived by the men who wrote the Bible than the woman who walks down the street and get catcalled by creepy hecklers. Objectification is in the eye of the beholder.  

The female body is not innately sexualized— advertising and media have just made it the norm to believe that it is. I mean, think about it— both men and women are in possession of nipples and yet, only women’s bodies are deemed to horrible to be shown on social media. This double standard was brought to very public attention by Lina Esco’s Free the Nipple campaign. It’s also highlighted by laws that allow men to go topless in every state while women face much stricter legislature. In places such as Tennessee, Indiana and Utah, it’s completely illegal for a woman to be topless in public. That means women could face jail time for lacking the same article of clothing that most men shuck as soon as they hit the beach.

Blaming women and girls for the sexualization of their own bodies also continues to perpetuate victim blaming (and shaming) in cases of sexual assault and harassment. Assuming that attire was the instigator of assault and not the attacker’s own skewed sense of morality also assumes that the victim is responsible for controlling the thought processes of everyone around her. It’s as illogical and implausible as saying that the victim of a bear attack is responsible for the actions of the bear that mauled them. Just like you can’t place the actions of a rapist on the rape victim, you can’t place the action of sexualizing on the object of sexualization.

Unfortunately, objectification and sexualization have now become the roots of other issues that are making it harder and harder to grow up girl. Reports are now showing that kids as young as five-years-old are showing signs of body dysmorphia and one-in-four children as young as seven have developed a dieting habit. Sexualization and objectification are putting higher pressures on children to fit into a certain type of mold in order to achieve what the media insists is the “perfect body.” By feeding into industries that promote women’s bodies as nothing more than objects to be used and disposed of, we perpetuate a culture that teaches young children that their value is directly linked to their physical appearance, a way of thinking that actually increases depression rates.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of world I want for my little sisters.

Feature image here.

3 Responses to “All About Eve— Sexualization is in the Eye of the Beholder”

  1. littlefembot

    This was an awesome article! I thought you had a very interesting take on the sexualization of Eve. I’ve had some similar thoughts but ultimately come to a different conclusion. Because I am a Christian and believer in the Bible, I think it is not the writers of the Bible who have wrongfully accused and sexualized Eve, but the men who centuries thereafter controlled religion and used the story of Eve to degrade women. In genesis, it is Eve who takes the fruit, but only after being tempted by the serpent (the real bad guy in the story). Moreover, after Adam eats the fruit as well, he tries to blame Eve, but God himself places the blame on both of them equally. It’s only the patriarchy of the church that has often twisted this verse to mean that women are somehow weaker then men. If anything, the woman is upheld in Genesis and the crown jewel of creation. After God creates mountains and animals and seas (and man), he looks around and says it’s still not good enough. And that’s when He creates woman. Only then was He satisfied. Man wasn’t enough on his own. God knew that man needed the woman, that creation needed the woman. And that’s why he describes Eve as Adam’s “helper.” A lot of people interpret this as sexist, thinking it means Adams servant or maid. But God uses the exact same word to describe himself as mankind’s “helper” throughout the Bible. Clearly God isn’t saying he is lesser than humans (he is far greater). He is simply saying humans need him and are dependent on him. In the same way Adam needs and is dependent on Eve. In other words, if it weren’t for women, all creation and mankind itself would go to shit! Anyways, really a very, very good article. Just thought I’d offer a different perspective! 🙂 Keep on doin’ yo thang girl.

    Reply
    • thefeminstawakens

      I love this take on the Adam and Eve story, and I think you’re write about interpretation being the real devil here. And, unfortunately, the interpretation of Eve was twisted in such a way that it was used as an excuse to subordinated and blame women for sharing the sex of the woman who they believe is responsible for mankind’s demise (even though, like you said, it was the serpent who was the root of temptation). I love the idea of Eve as being God’s satisfactory addition to the world and I find that to actually be a very empowering piece of information should it be looked at with this feminist perspective. All in all, I think Eve pretty much rocks (as Sojourner Truth said, she was able to turn the world upside down on her own) and I find her to be a very empowering female figure in Christianity.

      Reply

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