The Curse of Eve
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman frdee he ribpressed to be the most ruthless executors of oppression once given modicum of power. Women ha he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
Genesis 2:19 (New International Version)
By default, a woman is cursed by virtue of her sex. From the beginning, as the Good Book chapter 1 states, woman has been created as an adjunct, an after the fact, an accoutrement, a tool, a helper, and a helpmate. Woman does not exist in and of herself, but as an add on to man.
This, if not subordinate, then collollary position creates a lot of conundrums for those women who are endowed with faculties a tod notch above the average ones required to pick up dirty underwear, wipe tomato stains, organize closet drawers. To be born female, the Bible speaks absolute truth, is to be cursed. How so? Let me count the ways. Mind you, I am speaking as a Greek American girl.
1 A woman is cursed to always think of others first and herself last.
Whether by nature or nurture, no matter, whether via societal expectations or her own desires, women are brought up to serve others. It’s as if she is chained to the caretaker role. Whether she wants to or not, whether she embraces it or rebukes and rebels against it, she cannot escape the nurture heavy role assigned to her gender. She is not allowed to think about her own wants, her own talents if it means contradicting her caretaker role. She continually subjugated her own needs to others. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is very often idealized as a noble endeavor, the problem comes when she sacrifices her own happiness to serve others and fit the role carved out for her by her society. After a lifetime of doing this a woman is cursed to wake up one day in full middle aged agony. The lyrics of some David Byrne lyrics. Reverberating through her brain, “My God how did I get here? Where has my youth gone? What have I done with my life?” her dreams squelched or postponed, her potential wasted, her energy sapped she awakes like a resentful sleeping dragon, why have I taken care of everyone else, but neglected myself? Why can I cater and attend to everyone else’s needs but I am not even aware I have my own separate from others?
I see women working themselves ragged—bushy eyebrows, muffin tops the breadth of Michelin tires, scrambling through snowstorms, pushing baby carriages, bearing shopping bags, rushing to make the green at intersections in dark dawn’s running to climb the rungs of career ladders, rushing to tick off shopping lists in time for dinner, not another Happy Meal the fourth time this week. After decades of this sort of routine, a working woman ( not the upper class kind with live in help and a nanny) gets fed up, angry and exhausted. Why haven’t I taken care of myself? Why haven’t I been true to myself? The refrain screams and echoes through every tendon and cellular wall. Why am I the one making all the sacrifices? I’ll tell you—it’s the curse of Eve.
Even if she has by pluck or luck pursued her dreams, if she was raised Greek or Mediterranean, middle eastern or Asian or Latino or African or some other traditional culture, she will go around feeling guilty for it. That’s the curse of Eve.
2 Women’s work, no matter, how important is always deemed as secondary or inferior.
Women’s work has been devalued historically. We know the statistics—women’s median annual earnings gs remain about 20% below mens. Some of this is due to the types of work men and women do (51% of the pay gap) but a good 38% of the difference can be attributed to gender discrimination, according to a study. A recent Cornel University study last year documented the phenomenon “when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines—for the very same jobs that more men were doing before.” The trend is consistent across occupations within those industries—earnings for info tech managers (mostly men) are 27% higher than human resources managers (mostly women) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Janitors, usually men, earn 22% more than maids and house cleaner, usually women. This is true across the board, even in female-dominated professions, such as nursing or teaching, men tend to make more because they take on more managerial and supervisory jobs.
A poignant historical example is the job of secretary. A secretary started off in the early 20th century as an exclusively male post driving a specific price tag in terms of pay. As more women began filling the positions, the pay decreased. It seems as if the female sex devalues the work just by putting her hands on it. Paula England, sociology professor at NYU, who co-authored one of the most comprehensive studies of this phenomenon, cited this is the trend for many occupations—
- Median hourly wages for jobs in parks or recreation declined 57% when women started doing the job
- Ticket agent pay dropped 43 percentage points when the one collecting tickets lacked testicles
- Designer pay decreased by 34% when women started to dabble in it
- Housekeeper salaries fell by 21%
- Pay for biologists fell 18% once women wore the white lab coats
The research backed the rule: if you want to deflate pay, make women do the job.
The trend, however, is reversed when men do the job. Computer programming which was a relatively menial role done by women shot up in money and prestige when it became a male profession. Of th thirty of the highest-paying jobs, including chief executive, architect and computer engineer, 26 are male-dominated, according to Labor Department data analyzed by Emily Liner, author of the Third Way report. “Of the 30 lowest-paying jobs, including food server, housekeeper and child care worker, 23 are female dominated” (www.nytimes.com).
Women’s work, besides being never done and menial, is underpaid and second-class. Women can work harder and longer and still get paid considerably less. No, you haven’t come a long way, baby. You are still cursed like Eve.
3 Women’s satisfaction and happiness are chained to those of her significant other/spouse/children/boyfriend.
After the Fall, our ancestral parents got retribution specific to their sex. For Adam, he had to toil for his bread now. No more walking around carefree in the Garden of Eden plucking fruits to his heart’s desire no strings attached. Eden would no longer provide a free lunch. He had to work for his food now.
But the punishment was different for Eve. As the Good Book states, ““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
Eve’s curse was this—that her pain and agony would be bound up with her relationship with her husband. Her curse is to have “desire” for her husband, but that he would rule over her. Well, ain’t that the truth? From the moment a girl child comes into the world, the focus of her life is gaining a potential husband. The knight in shining armor that will rescue her one day; the Prince Charming who will rouse her from her sleep. Her obsession with clothes, makeup, hair styles—all are fixated on getting the ONE-the husband. Eve’s curse was that her entire focus, her soul, her mind, the entire end-all and be-all of her existence is to center on the RELATIONSHIP.
Psychologists attest to this truth—Carol Gilligan’s Theory of Moral Development shows girls function according to a “care reasoning” as opposed to a “justice reasoning” that boys do. Gilligan argued that women’s moral judgments necessarily include feelings of compassion and empathy for others, as well as concern for commitments that arise out of relationships. Women engage in “care reasoning,” not “justice reasoning,” and thus consider their own and other’s responsibilities to be grounded in social context and interpersonal commitments.
Women are more relationship focused either through nature or nurture. While this might not seem a terrible thing on the face of it, it becomes a curse when the RELATIONSHIP consumes you. Women’s minds and conversations revolve around thoughts of romantic love and relationships. It’s what they talk about, read about (OK I dare you to find one man reading a Harlequin romance on the subway, just one), worry about. “Your desire will be for your husband” the curse pronounces. Look at the cover of any woman’s magazine—it’s splattered with info about THE RELATIONSHIP and how to keep it, get better at it, perfect it, and of course, SEX, which is the tool to maintain the relationship. In fact, the entire beauty-fashion-cosmetic industrial complex is founded on a woman’s preoccupation with THE RELATIONSHIP. A woman fixates on relationship how-to books, advice columns, and therapy more than a man. While the quest for love and intimacy is a universal human need that transcends gender, it becomes a curse when that becomes an obsession.
I know perfectly accomplished professional women who are miserably unhappy on massive cocktails of anti-depressants and other drugs because they cannot find Mr. Right. Men, on the other hand, do not derive their life’s purpose solely from THE RELATIONSHIP. I’m sure the guys are perfectly happy riding around in boxer shorts fly-fishing, getting drunk in strip bars without any compulsion to get shackled to a life of conjugal incarceration. This is the curse of Eve unraveling itself yet again.
4 Women are their own worst enemy; forget the damage done by the patriarchy, they do enough by themselves to themselves.
If being underpaid, devalued, and underappreciated en masse and unhappy, exhausted and unfulfilled individually were not enough, women are cursed to hate each other. I have said it once and I will say it again, there is no greater enemy for a woman than another woman. The cattiness brought on by the insecurities and self-doubts, the desperate competition for Mr. Right makes women a mutual curse on each other. Women do not support each other, but instead go out of their way to rip each other apart. And because they are socialized away from exhibiting overt aggression, they revert to underhanded and covert ways to undermine each other. Even in close-knit circles, the minute one woman walks away, those left behind wait till she is out of earshot to start criticizing and talking about her. Instead of looking towards each other as sources of support and mutual strength, they occupy themselves with tearing each other down. And of course, there can exist instances of close female companionship. But those relationships are immediately undermined and put to the side when Mr. Right or THE RELATIONSHIP appears. Poof! Female bonds perish when a male relationship eclipses them in importance.
Women don’t trust other women. They hide their husbands away when they sense a single attractive female in the room. As a result, many women find it difficult to sustain emotionally healthy long-term bonds with each other. Sooner or later, they will get into a fight or disagreement; they will hold onto those grudges for an eternity. “Why aren’t you talking to Soula?” I ask Toula. “You too were like a kolo and vraki (a butt and panty).” They had a fight over Panagiotti. They haven’t spoken for seven years and counting. Men, in my anecdotal experience, have an easier go at sustaining friendships even if they too compete in a cut-throat hierarchy.
Anecdotally, I can vouch for it. After years of working in a female-dominated profession with a succession of female bosses, I’d prefer to work with men especially in positions of power rather than women. Because of their second-class status and deep seated insecurities, women are bitchier and more ruthless in imposing their authority. I dare anyone to trade their male boss for a female boss if they don’t believe me.
Leave it to the oppressed to be the most ruthless executors of oppression once given modicum of power. Women have so eve me. Leave it to the oppressed to be the most ruthless executors of oppression once given modicum of power. Women have so deeply internalized the curse of their inferiority, they do a better job of limiting their own freedoms than any organized plan of repression and subjugation via an army of Taliban patriarchs can.
5 Women are doomed to insanity, increased stress, and distress.
It is no wonder that women suffer on par statistically more from mental illness than men. According to a Psychology Today post, “One in three Americans struggles with a mental illness, but the rate is much higher in women. Research suggests that women are about 40% more likely than men to develop depression. They’re twice as likely to develop PTSD, with about 10% of women developing the condition after a traumatic event, compared to just 4% of men. (www.psychologytoday.com)/ (www.stress.org).
Women are cursed to be the proverbial nut cases. This is yet another function of the curse of Eve. Look at how many stereotypes of mental illness feature women: the crazy cat lady, the crazy homeless lady, the mad woman in the attic, the hysterical mother. So there it is Eve’s curse once again—madness.
An IT manager from Manchester, England told me how she purposefully switched from HR, a heavily female-dominated department, to IT, a heavily male-dominated one, so that she would not have to deal with the crazy women nut cases in the company. Now that she is the only woman in a unit of 15 men, her stress level and work satisfaction have improved significantly.
Many times I have cursed my sex. Why was I born a woman? I’ve berated my fate. My life would have been easier, happier, and more respectable had I had two testicles instead of two breasts and two ovaries. Higher pay, less work, more respect, less struggle, more confidence, less doubt. I wouldn’t need to prove myself day in and day out. Why couldn’t I have been born a man?
As a mother of two girls, I have passed on the curse of Eve to them as well. No matter how how hard I try to instill in them respect, independence, self-esteem, my efforts will fall short. Even if they will live way into the 21st century, they will suffer. Will the curse of Eve ever be lifted? Not in my lifetime.