The lasting legacy of Adam and Eve

 

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Category: Relationships Date: 09 Jul 98


Man and woman were forced into a rather uncomfortable alliance from the day Eve got bitten by the serpent and Adam couldnít resist her apple. In due course Eve got pregnant and began to throw up and then bloat up to the size of a balloon. Due to her immobility and the fact that she had to be careful that she didnít harm her unborn child, she had to eschew all hardy activities. Her once taut muscles (from climbing fruit trees) grew slack and she depended on Adam to bring home the meat, cut down trees for firewood and build a home for them.

 

In return it was Eveís job to make sure that Adam had a hot meal when he came home after a day of hunting, wash clothes, take care of the baby, draw water, clean the house, and sweep the yard. She forgot the exuberance of climbing trees, and although once she could name every apple on the face of this earth, she forgot that too. The jungle toughened Adam. Here he invented weapons to destroy everything that threatened him. Due to his superior strength, survival skills learned in the wild and the force of his seed, it was only natural that Adam was the master of the house.

 

He had an opinion on everything and when the angels or other creatures visited he spoke for Eve so that Eve stopped speaking. After a while she even stopped having an opinion. If Adam came home late, she got weepy and terrified of being on her own, although before the serpent bit her she would walk coolly through many forests, and outwit many a lion. Then she would nag him and he would hit her over the head with a large piece of wood to shut her up. Sometimes when a creature or angel outwitted him, he would come home and bully his wife and feel like a man again.

 

As soon as Eve recovered from giving birth, Adam poured another set of seeds in her and she would bloat and so it went on till she had not a firm muscle in her body and not a thought in her head except what she could make for lunch. Adam and Eve multiplied as they were told to and although we donít like to say it, Adam and his sons must have committed incest (which nobody speaks about until today) to produce what would eventually be an overpopulated world.

 

The years passed. Thousands of them. But things didnít change much. Men still cut down trees, built concrete buildings, invented electricity, aeroplanes, plastic, conquered their natural environment. They fought bravely and conquered smaller, poorer countries and raped women and pillaged villages with weapons which grew increasingly sophisticated. Some were kind, and used their power wisely. They brought home the meat and potatoes and fed and clothed and protected generations of women. But others, when they felt blue, insecure and small and had no villages to pillage to feel macho, bullied women and children or committed incest with little daughters and then felt nine feet tall again.

 

The women cooked and had babies. They were not equipped to survive outside the home, and with supreme irony latched on to a man for security and protection against predatory men.

 

Like Adam, men were the undisputed kings of castles, masters of homes. The strange thing is that women helped them maintain this position of power by in-fighting and competing over who could produce the most spoilt male. One would cry: ďI give my son the choicest pieces of meat, and she gives him only second best.Ē Another would boast: ďI wash my sonís clothes until the skin of my palm comes off.Ē Through the ages, women treated their sons like demigods, fed them choice morsels, and pushed them to excel in sport and education. The little sons grew to expect to be served. They were not taught to say please and thank you. They would throw tantrums and get their way. (This obtains to modern times.) Sometimes these mothers beamed at insolent boys with pride, interpreting their rudeness and selfishness to be self assertion, and power. Thus, they grew up not knowing the difference between right and wrong. Men, the fathers, completed the process either by being absent or using brute force, a quality they passed on to their sons.

 

The irony is many of these pampering wives and mothers were more intelligent than their spouses but they knew if they were found out it would make men feel insecure and then they might get yelled at or even beaten. Thus, without access to education, tied in the home, many potential doctors, scientists, artists were deeply buried in womanly bosoms until they died.

 

This would continue until their sons grew up and left to sew their wild oats and the mothers would, at 40, 50, 60, sit at the window waiting for them, lonely and bereft, with no occupation to fall back on. And the sons would make quick, rare, guilty visits, feeling the burden of their motherís loneliness and being unable to do anything about it since they couldnít really move back in now, could they?

 

Little girls were another matter. They were groomed to succeed their mothers and be good wives to spoilt boys. So they learned to sew, cook and keep house, and keep their mouths shut since they knew these qualities increased their chances of getting married and that until then they were a liability to their parents. But all these thousands of years, unknown to men, a slow revolution was brewing among the women folk. They began to ask questions. In England they asked why they couldnít attend Cambridge. In India they fought to be educated. In Africa they refused to be circumcised. In Arabia they created schools for girls. In America they demanded the vote. They began to gather in groups in public places, and fight openly for their rights. Eve would have been so proud.

 

The men, seeing their power threatened, grew frightened. They kicked and fought to keep it. They called women who wanted simply to be respected as a human being or be given equal opportunities bad names, feminists, man haters, frustrated women.

 

They poked fun at those women who refused to doll themselves up with make-up for the benefit of men and called them ugly, butch, bearded, bitter, spinsters. In desperation, they pitted women against each another: housewives against professionals, pretty ones against plain ones. But the unbelievable happened anyway. Today, girls and young women worldwide are outnumbering their male counterparts in schools and universities. Men are slowly being marginalised. They still hold the top positions of state and corporations and institutions. But what men didnít realise all these centuries is that in the seemingly innocuous occupation as housewives and mothers was an MBA in itself.

 

As mothers they learned time and human resource management, leadership, flexibility. They balanced budgets. They learned resilience and tactics, since that was the only weapon they had to defend themselves against male dominance. And because they were daily dealing with dependent children, they never lost two vital qualities: their humanity and their ability to laugh.

 

Now the men at the top arenít stupid. They realised these women would help their businesses grow. Educated now, they were hired. Some are at the very top, prime ministers and secretaries of state, others are rising in the middle as professionals, and personal assistants worldwide are holding up corporations worth millions together. Howís that? Well, not so good. Enter the new woman: confident, intelligent, educated, streetwise, bill-paying, tire-changing, earning. But also confused, overworked, disillusioned because we are not used to taking care of ourselves. The storybooks said that Prince Charming would. Instead, new women are denied romance. They plan their own weddings, sort out the mortgage, shop around for the appliances and the furniture, budget, plan holidays and parties. All the man has to do is take their arm when they go out.

 

Enter the traditional man. Angry, spoiled (by Mama,) and terribly confused. And you canít blame him. He is no longer worshipped simply because he is male by accident of a gene. If he changes diapers and sends roses, he is called a wimp. If he throws his weight around like Adam, he is called a brute. Sometimes he just doesnít have a job, and so feels he has been emasculated, marginalised, demoted from his role as breadwinner and master.

 

His womanís efficacy intimidates him. He feels threatened. And so he turns to one or all of three things: drink, other (preferably weak, dependent women or pampering Mama types) women, physical and verbal violence. Itís the only way he can feel like a man again, ten feet tall.

 

But the legacy of Adam and Eve is not so easy to wipe out, and although the modern man and woman have adapted to their changing roles, some dreams always stay the same.

 

She wants love. He wants sex. She wants security. He wants freedom. She wants babies. He doesnít want the responsibility. She wants a cozy walk on the beach on a wind-blown day. He wants to watch bikinis. She wants a hug. He wants to watch football. She wants help with housework. He wants his dinner on time. She wants to work, some independence. He wants her to work but not earn as much as he does and then do the dishes while he reads the papers and then stay at home with the kids while he goes out with the boys. She wants his money. He wants to break her spirit before she gets it. She wants protection. He wants pampering. Marriages are broken, children are unhappy, women are overworked, men feel misunderstood.

 

This Adam and Eve offspring didnít turn out too good in the end, did they? They sired a population where the majority of violence, rape, incest and murder is committed by men. Every statistic proves that. Just look at the men on death row. The older generation is lost, but mothers of young sons can change the world. They can do this by stripping away the old stereotypes like ugly snake skins: teaching their small sons that a real man is one who is gentle to those smaller or weaker than themselves, that machismo and bullying are signs of weakness, that real power comes with knowledge, books, humour, good manners, and responsibility towards oneís offspring.

 

If mothers can demonstrate to their sons that men and women are people first, with the right to fulfil their full potential and a responsibility to contribute towards a more humane world, there is hope for us yet. In the meantime, there is the redemptive power of love between man and woman, an occasional mind-blowing miracle, which brings peace, for a while anyway.

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur