The Inferiority of Women

Oftentimes one reason given for the subordination of women to men is taken from the biblical text of Genesis 2:21-22 where the woman is created from a rib of Adam. So, goes the argument, since woman was taken from man she is therefore derivative and subordinate. However, Phyllis Trible in her classic work God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality has a humorous and very good argument against such reasoning. She very insightfully recognizes that the same language is used in the relationship between the man (ha-‘adam) and the ground (ha-‘adama). Man was taken from the ground (cf. Gen 3:19, 2:7).

So, even though man was taken from the ground that doesn’t mean that man is subordinate to or inferior to the ground, actually the opposite is the case. “By strict analogy, then, the line “this shall be called ‘issa [woman] because from ‘is [man] was taken this” would mean not the subordination of the woman to the man but rather superiority to him” (101). I love it!
If we wanted to take the language strictly then the woman is superior to the man. Trible does say that superiority is not at issue so she is not arguing for woman’s superiority but she does do a good job of dismantling an argument for male supremacy in this text. Bravo Phyllis, bravo. I found this very thoughtful and helpful.
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