Sexism in Ancient Times and the Epic of Gilgamesh

Sexism in Ancient Cultures and Gilgamesh

After reading the beginning of Bishop Spong’s book, I realized how even the major religions (used to) promote sexism. From the beginning, we worshiped a “Mother Earth”. As humans started to introduce more gods, it became the “Thunder GOD”. I believe this was the start of any major sexism, from an praying to an all caring mother, to blindly worshiping an angry male god (e.g. Zeus), showing that then people believed that males deserved more respect.

This belief that males were the betters sex carried on through the years. The nomadic tribes developed better weapons to hunt and fight, these weapons (e.g. spears) were obviously phallic symbols and used “thrusting power” to kill. Bishop Spong’s book mentions that “over the years, these became less subtle in their symbology. What are missiles but a long erect rod which explode, and deliver their payload.” Even having sex, which used to be a religious ritual in ancient cities, has been perverted and is viewed by some males as a type of competition. They use insulting terms to describe this, for example “who can bang, screw or f**k the most.”

Even in the history of modern religions, sexism has been a heavy influence. An ancient hebrew story about the creation says that “The woman was more human that the animals, but not quite as human as man.” and that “ her sole purpose in life was to been the male’s helpmeet, and to bring him pleasure, to relive his urges for sex (which was originally recreational) and companionship.”

The epic of Gilgamesh, the first written story in human history, promotes sexism as well. Gilgamesh was a MAN created by gods, therefore he had no equal. He traveled across the land and finally settled and built the walls of Uruk. Uruk became the finest city and flourished. However, Gilgamesh became over confident, leaving “ no son alive and no virgin to her lover.” The gods then decided to create an equal to Gilgamesh, a MAN raised in the wild, with strength that only Gilgamesh could equal. Gilgamesh sent one of the temple prostitutes to seduce Enkidu (the man created by the gods) and sever his connection to the wild. After a week of doing her thing, the temple prostitute/priestess is done and Enkidu attempts to return to the wild. After being rejected by the wilderness, he returns to the priestess who tells him about Gilgamesh. He then proceeds to stop Gilgamesh just before he meets his lover. The two wrestle, and their fight shakes the city, breaking doors and pillars. After Gilgamesh finally succeeds in throwing Enkidu, he realizes they are equals, TWO MALES with unmatched strength, and their friendship is sealed.

In Gilgamesh, only the MALES have unmatched strength, and the WOMAN is the one who may remove some of that strength. This may have inspired both a belief that man is superior to woman, and a fear that woman may remove your strength.

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