by Elisabed Gedevanishvili
I often find myself a subject of random, almost creepy glares. As I speak, or watch TV, sing in shower, or twerk in my room, I feel as if someone’s watching me and critiquing my behavior according to a prewritten, unkown criteria. Like all boundaries, these criteria must have been created by someone or something. Some may say that it requires maturity, adulthood, to start an investigation and try to figure out the origins of this marking scheme. But isn’t it better to start early and find out, rather than live for years and years and still be defeated by that random, almost creepy glare?
There are several texts that lay as a foundation to many others, and the Bible is one of them. This book of all books has led many generations forward. Even today, it helps many people distinguish good from evil and right from wrong. While it guided kings to wise decisions, it has also shaped some of the most wounding prejudices in society. Even the first few pages and their interpretation have caused anger, abuse and those random, almost creepy glares. The first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, opens the scene with a story of the creation of the world. Adam and Eve, the first humans described on these first pages, were banished from the glorious Garden of Eden because they had eaten the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve, the female was first to taste and suggest the fruit to Adam, her male companion.
Girls all over the world have experienced the harsh baggage that came from being a descendant of Eve, a woman allegedly guilty of abusing her rights and seducing Adam into trying the forbidden fruit. Although Adam also ate the fruit, it was Eve who suggested it to him. Apparently because of Eve’s so-called mistake, women are the ones who seduce, who make men sin, and who are responsible for not paying attention when a husband cheats. Fortunately as a sixteen year old girl, I have not been yet accused of those subconscious, involuntary crimes. But I have often come across the idea that I should not strive to receive the best education possible, because after all I am a man’s “helper” in need of guidance that will stop me from making the same mistake as Eve did.
Many interpretations of the Bible have taught us that women need to be tamed, because if set free they will ruin lives as they have ruined our chance to live eternally in the Garden of Eden. To this day, every time I dance or speak, I see people watching, making sure I don’t do anything inappropriate, anything Eve would have done. Of course the expectations are not only set up for girls; there are plenty of things that boys aren’t “supposed” to do and are watched for. But if their big brother urges guys to be strong and successful, my big sister tells me to be weak and submissive, smart but not too arrogant, beautiful but not hot, independent but at the same time dependent on my “special friend”. These rule-like expectations derive at least in part from the first book of the Bible. They arise from a single conclusion of Adam’s and Eve’s story: women cannot be left alone to wander all over the world. We have to be controlled; made sure that we neither trick nor overrule anyone. But if someone somehow forgets to design that observing, random, almost creepy glare, a sixteen year old girl shall be punished because she was the one who forgot how to behave, not the person who forgot to monitor her!
If Eve was punished with banishment from the Garden of Eden by God, how will I be punished? Maybe I will be banished from my friends, relatives, family my own Garden of Eden? Although the punishment varies from individual to individual, it often includes rumors, bullying and nivijhu der. Rus I don’t see you. My favorite is the last one. What could be more fascinating than seeing responsible adults acting like you, a sixteen year old, don’t deserve their attention neither in a heated discussion nor in a casual tête-à-tête. Though we get to grow and learn from all these experiences, there’s still a serpent in the back of our minds suggesting that we are wrong, that we deserve to be punished. We look back, remember the story of Adam and Eve and sometimes, only sometimes, blame Eve for not doing what she was told to do.
The beauty of the Bible, or any text, is that it can be interpreted in billions of different ways. We have always known Eve as the original bad girl. But why was she bad when she wanted to know more? Maybe she was curious;maybe she strived for knowledge. I didn’t know Eve, but she has always been my inspiration. I have always wanted to be like her, grabbing on to the fruit that would bring me something new, undiscovered. Instead of a driving force behind the existing ideal portrait of a girl, Eve should be a symbol of curiosity, a girl’s desire to explore and know more. Her character should not relate to the necessity to control girls, but to the necessity to set girls free, give them opportunity to explore and become who they dream to become. And while the Bible could be interpreted in many different ways, Eve should always be the woman that people create typography portrait of.
P.S The next time I get that random, creepy glare assessing if I, just like Eve impose any threat to the society I won’t feel insecure. Why? Because I know that although to some Eve means a mistake, to me she means knowledge, curiosity, thinking, independence and so much more that you and I cannot fit on a single sheet of paper!