Prep Post #17: Ruether Reading

The feminist reading we had really intrigued me, especially with its assertion that those that are deemed “other” are most likely to be portrayed in a negative light, and how having qualities that deviate from the “norm” (in this case, masculinity) is looked down upon. The mention of Eve especially intrigued me, because it reminded  me of the similarities between Satan and Eve I noticed. Both he and Eve have a desire to assert their own independence; Satan, through his fight with God and Eve through her search for knowledge. The war in Heaven could definitely translate as Lucifer’s fight for his own personhood. And I find this really interesting, especially considering how the concept of Satan is completely and utterly vilified throughout Christian culture. Because this, in many ways, makes Satan an embodiment of the “other”. Especially the female other. I think this was really excellently covered in “Paradise Lost”, because there is a clear parallel between Eve’s desire to earn her equality through knowledge, and Satan’s desire to become like God. Satan is punished for his quest to be recognized as an equal and not a lesser being. So is Eve.

And then you’ve got this iconic image of Satan as the serpent seducing Eve. And it’s always been surprising to me that even though Satan is often referred to as a male, and was the one who did the actual seducing, seduction is almost always associated with female sexuality. And at least to me, this is a rather huge hint that leads me to believe that in many ways, Satan is construct of patriarchal values and criticisms of the idea of women being sexual beings. Because honestly, if male villains ever use sex to prove a point, it’s usually an act of aggressive behavior that conquers and dominates. Sexuality in female villains, however, is usually presented as a core part of who they are, and is used “lure” characters (usually male) into a trap. And what is one of Satan’s names in Christian lore? The Seducer. Especially in “Paradise Lost”, where his temptation of Eve is definitely portrayed through the lens of a seducer who is bent on destroying everything about Eve and her humanity.

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