Individuals, inclined to consult the Bible for wisdom and comfort, are familiar with the portion of Genesis, concerning the mythical Adam and Eve. The “Good Book” declares that God made Adam from the “dust of the Earth” (“Adam” means “Earth” in ancient Aramaic and Hebrew), and then made Eve, from a rib of Adam. Thus, from the very earliest conception, women were relegated to a subsidiary place from men. Remarkably, such eternal assumption, still abides, in this age of super-sonic air travel and “smart” phones.
Religious dogma, has, more often than not, attributed man’s sin to the tactical allure (or temptation) of women. The Biblical tradition of “Original Sin,” portrays the first Man, Adam, being induced, by the temptress, Eve, to eat an apple from the forbidden “Tree of Knowledge.” We have radically chosen, to interpret the symbolism from quite a different perspective. A cursory review of many cultures, would reveal that the snake (the “serpent”) was a symbol of fertility; perhaps because he makes his home in the earth or, for classical Freudian reasons. However, as we, in our nuanced fashion, perceive it, the symbol of fertility (coiled up, in the so-called “tree of knowledge”) speaks to mental fertility, or reason, and the “infamous” temptation of Adam, by Eve, to eat of that “forbidden apple,” might well be seen, as the delivery of the newly evolved gift of reason to Mankind; hardly a sin. Apparently, adherents to ancient superstition, as the enemies of reason, tactically created myths, in which, respectively a deliverer of knowledge, is reviled, and cruelly punished by the Gods. An instructive illustration is seen in the ancient Greek Myth of Prometheus. The Titan, Prometheus, was cruelly and painfully punished, by being chained to a mountain, and his liver, eternally eaten by predatory birds, as proclaimed punishment, for bringing fire (knowledge) to mankind. This myth tends to articulate, an obvious dissonance in Man’s early days, relating to rational thought and the more popular, traditional ignorance.
Since the creation of the Adam-Eve story, conceivably, because the male animal is bigger, and the designated wielder of the lethal war club, the status of the woman in society, has been a secondary one, under the control and tutelage of men. The proper place and occupation of women, was to care for the family and perform light domestic chores. ln mankind’s history, as late as 19th Century England (“the Victorian Era”), women of the upper and middle class (lower class did farming and hard labor, or were servants), occupied their time, playing the spinet for their husband’s diversion, supervising the rearing of their children by hired, educated tutors, sewing their husband’s linens, or perhaps, embroidery. The woman properly, had no social relationships, aside from family and relatives; having friends was the sole privilege of the man of the house.
In the 19thCentury, women could not legally own property, even by familial inheritance; any such inheritance, legally, went to the husband, who would extend to her a negotiated “settlement.” Legally, under the “couverture” of their husband, could not enter into contracts or engage in business. In America, it was not until the 1844, that the State of Maine, enacted revolutionary legislation, giving women the right to separately own property; other States of the Union, slowly and reluctantly, followed suit. A similar law was passed in New York, in 1900.
It was not until 1920, that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting to women the right to cast a vote. This victory was attained though the substantial sacrifices and militant efforts, of many great American women, leaders of the “Women’s Suffrage Movement.” Kudos to those brave Suffragettes. It is shockingly, only 100 years ago, that women established for themselves, the right to participate in American democracy.
It is no less than miraculous, that, despite the substantial limitation on a women’s life, inclusive of the right to a liberal arts education, that so many truly, world-class woman authors emerged; including, the Bronte Sisters, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Kate Chopin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickenson, Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen. That such great literature was produced, in the face of the social leg irons of the 19th Century, is surely deserving of kudos. In or about the next Century, starting with the sophisticated, Virginia Woolf, society was fortunate to produce a, virtually unlimited number of great female novelists and poets. We would, therefore award them the maximum kudos, and most especially, those brilliant flowers, who bloomed, during, and despite, the Victorian repression of women’s freedom and education.
The eternally revered Florence Nightingale, a daughter, born to an elite British family, chose to amend her comfortable lifestyle, to serve as a nurse, for the poor and grotesquely injured military casualties of the Crimean War. These injured soldiers were housed in dirty, squalid quarters, causing a great many to die from sepsis. She would brave the horrific sights and visit each wounded soldier, in the evenings with her lamp, to bring them some hope and cheer. For this reason, she was known as the “Lady with the Lamp.” She became a great and effective reformer and philosopher of the profession of Nursing. By the time she left the employ of the hospital, she had effected many reforms, concerning the avoidance of infection, by the regime of cleanliness and the mandated sterility of bandages and medical implements. Florence Nightingale was deservedly awarded the name, “Founder of Modern Nursing.” Today, many thousands of well- educated nurses, assist in the care and cure of the sick and disabled, and, together with Ms. Nightingale, are deserving of substantial thanks and kudos. In the past we have written an homage to Florence Nightingale, and to the nursing profession in general, entitled, “Florence’s Lamp.”
It would be a practical impossibility to list the names of all of the remarkable women, deserving great praise, or kudos. We cannot, however, resist furnishing a relatively modest, representative compendium of some people, still alleged, by some, and by reason of their gender, to be, like Eve, “subsidiary” or “second” category: Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Annie Oakley, Marie Cure’, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Georgia O’Keefe, Golda Meir, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Meade, Rosa Parks, Margaret Thatcher, Anne Frank, Sandra Day O’Connor, and, honestly, thousands more.
A further enumeration of the uncountable, scientific, societal, military, academically innovative and artistic accomplishments of Eve’s female progeny would are “infinite” in number, and classification It is remarkable to us, that, after having accomplished so many victories, in confirming their rights as equal citizens [ in entrepreneurship and commerce, voting, the arts, government and politics, the judiciary, in the military and municipal services, such as police and firefighters, as educators, as capital investors, in medicine and health, in the law and, virtually every sundry calling and profession] women are obliged to convince certain atavistic members of our society, that they are, sufficiently capable and morally responsible, to make mature decisions concerning their own bodies, regarding the necessary and emotionally painful, choice to terminate their own pregnancy. Those who have deceptively, advertised themselves, as* “Right to Life, have arrogated to themselves the right to decide for others, the extent of ownership of their own body, in their psychoneurotic preoccupation with the early fetus [*they oppose needed assistance to the child after birth, generally oppose gun regulation and favor capital punishment; They have, actually, committed premeditated and deliberate murder, to forward their cause.] Kudos to those who support the citizen- women’s right to make responsible decisions, concerning her own body.
Finally, in our evaluation and assignment of kudos, let us not lose sight of the plain fact, that it is the woman that, exclusively, delivers to Mankind his progeny. Can anyone reasonably deny mothers (and all remarkable women) the highest degree of praise and kudos?