What do you think of daemonization

Study on the demonization of women: The murderous woman

Mineke Schipper has traced the stories and myths around the world that turn women into women. They are used to exercise control.

An exhibit at the Vaginas Museum in London Photo: Susannah Ireland / Laif

A female bulge is clearly visible on his chest: It is Jesus who nourishes Christianity with a well-formed chest. The collective Christian memory seems to have displaced these depictions of Jesus. She is no exception, Shiva is also depicted with the female half of the body. Female and male united in one body, mythical transsexuality. It almost seems as if some myths try to obscure the existence of the female sex, its power and powerlessness.

Mineke Schipper addresses such myths in her book "Mythos Gender". The author was, among other things, a professor of intercultural literary studies and taught at the University of the Congo in the 1960s. Knowledgeable and well-founded, Schipper tells of the myths that surround the female sex.

Who would have thought that the idea that snakes reside in the vagina was not only historically widespread, but continues to this day? So great is the fear of the vaginal snake pit that some cultures designated men to do the dangerous job of defloration of women. By the way, Sigmund Freud speculated that this was to prevent the groom from inciting the bride's hatred of (violent) defloration.

Many myths about the origin of the world tell of the appropriation of female attributes by male creator deities. It almost seems as if the most important male contribution to the creation of myths was to eradicate the childbearing ability of women from the collective consciousness. Does this mean gesture envy? Or the terrible fear of the uterus' tremendous power to grow life?

Mineke Schipper: “The Myth of Gender”. Translated from the Dutch by Bärbel Jänicke. Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart 2020, 351 pages, 24 euros

It is not only in myths that children can slip out of the back of their knees or the penis. Even scientists of the 18th century wanted to recognize tiny little people in sperm, which only had to be transplanted into a vessel, a female uterus.

Vulvae drive warriors to flight

What these myths have in common is that they attribute particular weaknesses to women, their gender, which are intended to explain his domination, but at the same time place him under tremendous power. Or how else could bared vulvae put warrior tribes to flight?

Impurity, unchastity, everything bad in the world seems to be rooted in the feminine. Why has a male dominance over women been able to prevail worldwide?

Schipper can describe the myths that “justify” submission, but cannot really explain the direction of these narratives. She rejects the idea that there may have been matriarchal cultures in the distant past: no evidence, nowhere. But if there is no female supremacy - why does gender equilibrium appear impossible in myth?

Solid power interests

Because myths provide a justification for why the world is the way it is; because they cover up the political, the tangible power interests and clothe them in cheerful narratives, their effect is so lasting. One may smile at myths, but the core of the symbolic representation remains unconscious.

Or why are period products smeared with blue liquid on TV? The taboo of the period blood continues to have an effect, even if the reasons for justification seem “more rational” today. Blood is unsanitary, who wants to see that?

Mythical thinking is sustainable

The journey through the world of myths, which seems to have so little to do with “our” enlightened culture, teaches us clearly how long-term mythical thinking determines us.

Now all of this might be a fascinating, amusing, sometimes harrowing footnote if these myths did not have tangible, sometimes brutal, consequences to this day. Female genital mutilation, which affects millions of women around the world, is perhaps most clearly a reflection of the ominous aftermath of the myth of the unclean female sex.