[Having fielded a few cracks about the title, let me say it was intended as a joke. (Not saying a good joke.)]
It’s OK — the title is longer than the post will be.
Good discussion at BookCourt last night, led by Dan Bergner, regarding his new book What Do Women Want?, which I wrote about yesterday. A guy in the audience was reminiscing about his glory days in the late 1960’s, when women were all over him (proving I guess one of the points of Dan’s book, that women’s libido can be indiscriminate). The guy ascribed the sexual looseness prevailing at the time to the deleterious impact of recreational drugs on Judeo-Christian rules. Dan noted that the Judeo-Christian tradition — and actually he was emphasizing the Christian — involves a primary human fall from grace via the actions of of a wayward woman, and the resulting need for human redemption from that sin by a savior, both god and man (born, I’d add, not merely of a woman faithfully married but of a virgin, who is herself immaculately conceived!). Dan’s point was that these strictures regarding the dangers of unbridled female sexuality run as deeply as can be imagined into the roots of our ideas of civilization.
Which sent me rambling back to topics I used to study fairly closely and haven’t really pondered in a long time. I now recall the earliest “promiscuous woman,” thousands of years perhaps even before the emergence of the Hebrew people, was the Queen, who took a consort, the King, honored as the Queen’s choice for about a year, honored as her son, brother, and husband, honored by being allowed to have sex with her, then honored by being torn to shreds alive, and consumed, becoming the dying god, who shows up everywhere in later classical-era “cults,” and of course even later in Christianity. He is reborn, both in the agricultural fertility resulting from his sacrifice and in the new annual consort, again chosen by the Queen. The new King, the new dying and returning god, because again she chooses and discards him. Some of the roots of “redemption” are there. The story is actually far from unfamiliar: its echoes are long in later classical mythology, literature, and art. (There’s an ancient Mesopotamian myth/ritual I recall, having to do with either the beer or the wine harvest, where the Queen goes away for a while, and the King takes the opportunity to sit on her throne. Big mistake. She comes back and that’s about it for him.)
This is the stuff the Hebrews didn’t like, when they saw it in Ishtar/Innana; the stuff the Sumerians must have decided not to like, so they invented literature in the story of Gilgamesh overcoming it; the ancestors of the Achaians didn’t like it, in what became Kore/Demeter, but the Greek ethos incorporated much of it in the pantheon [UPDATE: and tamed it, birthing tragedy out of the spirit of music]. Christianity clearly draws on its survivals within patriarchy in the “mystery cults” of the late, Hellenized empire. And Christianity doesn’t like it either. The Queen becomes a virgin, the sacrifice an occasion for pieta, with madonna and whore joined in mourning, etc. … Witches are an enemy. Etc.
The oldest back story: father-god culture (I’d except the Hebrews on that score, since their concept of deity was unique in the ancient world) besting mother-goddess culture.
Yes, that’s glib and sweeping — this is a blog — and not history, really, but based on close reading (not mine but many others’) of text. I used to poke around in it, via some of the authors in the title. I’m Freudeo-Protestant by inclination and experience, kind of anti-Jungian, and many of those authors are steeped in Jung, but there’s a lot to consider regarding the roots of male fear of untrammeled female sexuality, maybe because that’s where we came from. In this simplistic but possibly compelling reading, it’s not that civilization will topple if women are free to “aggress,” which simply means choose and discard men at will. It’s that the patriarchal civilizations beat the matriarchal years ago and, regardless of all changes in modern female status, have no intention of going back on that one.
Enough sex talk for today, kids.