Divinely inspired or otherwise, the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is deeply rooted in the Western psyche. Eve occupies mere pages of the Genesis epic, but women have spent millennia atoning for her original sin. For the last 2,000 years, Eve has been invoked in the monotheistic world to suppress women's rights and defame their characters. How many misogynistic stereotypes and prejudices stem from the reputation of the much-maligned, archetypal first woman?
The apostle Paul cited Eve's narrative to justify women's subservience to men, writing in the apocryphal book of Timothy that women should "keep silent" because "Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."
In the Middle Ages, St. Bernard of Clairvaux sermonized to rapt audiences of men and women that Eve was "the original cause of all evil, whose disgrace has come down to all other women." More recently, at a legislative dinner in 2015, South Carolina Senator Tom Corbin was confronted for his combative remarks about women's right to participate in the state's General Assembly. "Well, you know God created man first," he quipped. "Then he took the rib out of man to make woman. And you know, a rib is a lesser cut of meat."