Erasure of WOmens Identity

In my reading the main theme identified was erasure. Through this collection of curated art I plan to use the texts Gilgamesh, The Gospel of Luke, The Book of Genesis, The Quran, and others to illustrate the historic erasure of women’s identities and voices in literary works. In these ancient texts they are more often than not written from the perspective of men and do not include the voices, identities, or the perspectives of women. The excluded voices are important to consider when studying ancient texts as it can highlight the connection between an ancient society and their beliefs while making an individual critique their own cultural relativism.

When Gilgamesh is asked by Ishtar to be her bridegroom he lists all of the ways he has heard she has treated her past lovers. "'You loved the horse, so famed in battle, but you made his destiny whip, spur and lash." George, A.R. (2003). The epic of Gilgamesh. London: Penguin. In this instance the text makes yet another point to address not account for what the woman has to say as Ishtar does not respond to Gilgamesh, but asks her father for assistance in the slanders being brought against her. So although she has a voice she is not allowed to use it to defend herself, but she must obtain assistance from her father and her identity is reduced to a scorned woman. This piece illustrates how women are put down in service to prop up a man and make him worthy or great.
"She did for the man the work of a woman, his passion caressed and embraced her." George, A.R. (2003). The epic of Gilgamesh. London: Penguin. This piece illustrates how women are often depicted as used only in service to men and to progress the arch of the man. Often they are not considered or fully developed persons, but only plot points relegated to giving of their bodies to men.
Platos' Academy was founded around 387 BCE. In this picture it depicts men possibly discussing politics and philosophy. However, it is important to note that in many of classical greek arts women are never depicted in this manner. They are more often being admired for their beauty and goddess like qualities. In Plato's Crito, Socrates states on Pg. 83, he notes a woman in a vision and solely comments on her beauty. “A fair and comely woman, clad in white garments, seemed to come to me, and call me and say “O Socrates--- the third day hence shalt thou fair Phthia reach.”
In this photo, Aspasia is seen giving what looks like "Counsel" to other philosophers or discussing politics. During this time women were not often depicted in this light, but rather admired for their beauty. In Platos' The Apology Socrates frequently makes comment on those in the court room while he is being tried, but he makes a point to make a distinction between men and athenians. This could be interpreted as him talking to women if they were allowed in the courtroom. This only stresses the point that women are left out of the conversation or acknowledged for their opinions. Pg. 36 “I have to defend myself, Athenians, first against the old false charges of my old accusers, and then against the later ones of my present accusers. For many men have been accusing me to you, and for very many years, who have not uttered a word of truth.”
In this picture it depicts Eve tempting Adam with eating the apple. Yet, again we have another illustration of how women are often viewed as seductresses, temptresses, or alluring to men and by fault lends them to making terrible life decisions. This line of thinks lends the women to have no identity outside of being with a man or servings as something to overcome or bed. Genesis 3: 12-13 “12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?””
This illustration is titled "The Fall of Man." Just the choice of language in the text furthers expounds upon the point of women being insignificant. One could potentially make the case that "Man" refers to mankind, but even then the masculinization of the word to incorporate all individuals is devoid of inclusion of women. Where are the stories or words that show a strong bond to women and paint them in a light that is inclusive? I wonder why God only told Adam to stay away from the forbidden tree and not Eve. Genesis 2:15-17 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The only words spoken to Eve from God after God created her is when he asks "What is this you have done?" All other correspondence is given with Adam and God alone.
In this photo we have Mercury giving Bacchus over to the Nymphs to nurture and care for him. Historically, women are depicted as caregivers, nurturers, and matronly. This carries over even into mythical creatures being made to represent these gender stereotypes. Essentially, women are only needed to help mold a man or to bare him children. An example of this is present within the text of Luke 1:23-25 “When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Mary, although considered divine, only is divine because God saw that she was fit to bare him a child because she was a virgin. Mary could have very well been a wonderful woman outside of being a virgin, but the focus here is that she was one and that is the only thing of importance when considering how to qualify a womans purity or their holiness. Even more so, Elizabeth is not even allowed to name her newborn son without the approval of her husband as referenced in Luke 1: 59-63. “59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
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