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The Origin Of Gender Roles Essay

5218 words - 21 pages

The Origin of Gender Roles

The root of all gender issues which presently exist in society may be traced back to The Creation Story in Genesis. This crucial chapter of the Bible provides evidence supporting that God intended for man and woman to exist as equals, yet he assigned gender roles once Adam and Eve disobeyed him by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree of good and evil. Thus, men have been characterized as the “breadwinners” and women as “child bearers and housekeepers” since the beginning of humanity. The story of Lilith as Adam’s supposed first wife suggests Adam took on a patriarchal role from the beginning, yet Lilith refused to accept his assumed superiority. She initially challenges him, and then leaves him; she represents a rebellious, yet independent woman. Although these two stories on the first man and woman are significantly different, the two convey that men and women have been trapped in certain roles since the beginning of time, and have always had a power struggle between them. Gender issues have not evolved over time; they have always existed.
“Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:22).

The order of human creation in Genesis calls into question whether it was intended for a hierarchy to exist between genders. Since Eve is created from Adam’s rib, and as his helper, it is argued she is created merely to support him, and that she derives from him. These claims have connotations of inferiority. However, other evidence in the Bible proves God did not intend for man to be put above woman. He created both in his image, from the earth, and with the intention they would come together to form one flesh. Therefore, since the Creator intended for males and females to be equal, man cannot establish a hierarchy between them.

The argument for male superiority in Genesis is often supported with the claim “God created Adam first.” The Bible supports this statement since it appears before any mentioning of Eve; it states, “The Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”(Gen. 2:7, NIV). At this point, Adam is looked upon as a living being, and not acknowledged based on his sex. The point of the first creation is not gender and sexuality but the creation of a creature that comes from the earth, a creature not specifically identified sexually (Trible 12). So the first creature is not male; the first creature is not the first man (Trible 12). Adam is not distinguished as a “man” until Eve is created, which doesn’t happen at the beginning. Eve’s different characteristics from Adam introduce the idea of a male and female sex. It cannot be assumed that Adam is superior as a man because he is initially looked upon as a human, and doesn’t get recognized for his sex until Eve is created.

When Eve is created from Adam’s rib, patriarchal...

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