On Eve’s Temptation and the Monsters We Make of Hungry Women
July 20, 2019 11:21 PM   Subscribe

“I find myself reflecting on other women depicted as monstrous for their hunger; Pandora and her box, Snow White and her apple. The appearance of lacking desire goes beyond the bounds of etiquette or being ‘ladylike’ and instead crosses into the realm of a moral imperative. Which is to say, a just, good, decent woman is a woman who is free of any type of hunger, be it physical hunger for food, hunger as desire, or hunger as ambition. Conversely, a woman sickened with sin is one who is riddled with said hungers, reduced to a gaping mouth never satisfied.” Nina Li Coomes on faith and desire. CW: contains descriptions of disordered eating
posted by Grandysaur (7 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Snow White, the monstrous woman justly punished for her sinful hunger? Disney really did a job on that one, didn’t they?
posted by Segundus at 3:01 AM on July 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I wanted love, devotion, lust. I was hungry for eyes on me, hungry to be approved of, hungry to be powerful, exceptional, beautiful, all the while fearing that these hungers made me unnatural and beastly, exactly what should not be loved or desired. I felt feverish in how much I wanted, and feverish in how much I feared these wants would doom me in the same way it did Eve.
This piece is wonderfully written, but this in particular really resonated. I grew up Catholic, and although I considered myself a feminist from a young age and wrestled with the construction of womanhood as offered by the Church, it was hard as a young woman to balance the competing desires of what I knew I wanted and what I was supposed to want. As an adult woman who has (mostly) made peace with my various hungers, I’ve just realised I never publicly take the last of something at a shared table; being greedy, for food, sex, money, power, whatever, is the sign of a bad girl. Food for thought. Thanks for the post.
posted by billiebee at 3:31 AM on July 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

In Ancient Greek myth, the feminine is powerful, riotous, constantly looking to overturn, a huntress, a revolutionary. In the Middle Ages, the feminine is a like a blank slate, too pure and innocent for the world, delicate. It's just now I realized they are two sides of the same coin. The Middle Ages wanted to deny women their desire.
posted by xammerboy at 9:58 AM on July 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is exactly the reason why Catherynne's Valente What the Dragon Said: A Love Story resonates with me so much, but I've always thought I didn't have any real basis for thinking "this is about being a woman." Holy shit.
posted by brook horse at 12:20 PM on July 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Thank you for that link, brook horse, I’d never come across it and it’s wonderful. I totally agree with your reading.

and they don’t burn up like comets
with love that tastes like starving to death

I know this.
posted by billiebee at 12:56 PM on July 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

being greedy, for food, sex, money, power, whatever, is the sign of a bad girlboy.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:32 PM on July 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

@xammerboy, it's funny you say that because a lot of religious tales involving the feminine being chaotic and the masculine being ordered came about around the time agriculture took over from hunter-gatherer. Before, the feminine was revered and afterwards needed to be controlled as (mostly) male rulers consolidated their kingdoms and required new stories to legitimize their positions. I'll try to find a good source if I can.
posted by Chaffinch at 3:08 AM on July 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

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