Trigger warning: Sexual Assault.
Between the two creation stories told in Genesis 1 and 2, there are contradicting events concerning how the first man and woman came to be. One common theme that is evidently clear between the two is that the portrayal of women can be perceived as fundamentally inferior. From the get-go, in Genesis 1 we see that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27). In Genesis 2, Eve is created from Adam’s rib, as an afterthought to act as a “helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). As a character in Genesis, Eve’s entire existence is explored in relation to man, whether that be as a wife or a mother. As the first woman, there is a notion that she is the mother of all humans, the pinnacle of woman.
The story of the fall in Genesis 3 is the first time Eve is narrated as independent of Adam. Coincidentally, it is also where Eve is tricked by the serpent and consequently causes the events of the Fall. Genesis tells the story of Eve as a naïve and weak character. God’s punishment for Eve was the pain of childbearing and the condemnation of submission to her husband, whilst Adam was punished for listening to his wife (Genesis 3:17) with mortality. This overtly implies that danger comes from listening to women.
This belief has manifested itself throughout history and has actively contributed to the oppression of women. A contemporary example is the issue of sexual assault. To second guess a woman’s word, within the context of sexual assault, is so deeply ingrained into the patriarchy, creating a systematic issue. Thus, the vast majority of sexual assault cases go unreported, and those that are, rarely result in a conviction. Arguably, Genesis is one of the earliest documented examples of such misogyny. One reason it has influenced the oppression of women so heavily is that historically, particularly in the west, the separation of church and state is still debated. Not only does this impose a lack of freedom within religion and the church as an institution, but it has further enabled the submission of women to become ingrained within modern society.
Women are oppressed by a system they had no part in creating. Women would not have been educated in literacy at the time the Bible texts were written, and for the majority of history have never had a place in politics. The portrayal of Eve as a devious, disobedient character has thus created the idea that this is an intrinsic part of female nature.