Eve

[Image Description: Close-up of ice crystals formed over a body of water]

A woman wrote
my local, small-town paper
to blame women
for what ails
our communities.

Men, she wrote,
have vacated
responsibilities and
their rightful place
because women
have forgotten they
were created equal—
equal, but in the special role of helper—
created for men,
but now want to be like men,
act like they are better than men.

About half the population
to blame
for all the problems.

Swift, visceral reaction
upon reading,
rage-typing
uncharitable responses
in my head for days.

I’ve deleted those lines
one-by-one,
realizing this is yet another retelling of
the old myth
I’ve heard since childhood:
All that’s wrong is Eve’s fault
and by default
all women
blamed.

Told enough times,
layer upon layer,
until myth
is frozen,
impenetrable.

Anger at this woman subsiding,
remembering misogynistic,
female-critical,
woman-blaming
narratives I internalized for years.

So much invested in making scapegoats
believe they’re at fault
until no one will question
oppressive structures,
abusive institutions,
off-balance relationships,
cis-male-dominated
everything.

It takes time and wrestling
to purge the narrative that if
women do anything “wrong,”
men could not possibly do
anything right,
to see that
treating women merely as a helper to men
objectifies,
claims they exist to serve a function
like a possession,
and are not
a unique expression
of the divine image,
of the stardust from which their atoms were formed,
of the breath God breathed into their lungs.

Treating men as merely
head of household providers
reduces them to a role,
like they are just a job,
and not a unique expression
of the divine image,
of the stardust from which their atoms were formed,
of the breath God breathed into their lungs.

And this binary trope treats anyone who is not
one half of husband-and-wife,
man-and-woman relationship,
as absent,
ignoring the truth that
there are spectrums of experience,
identity,
relationship,
and not everyone fits neatly
into boxes and roles,
nor wants to,
and they are each just as much a
unique expression
of the divine image,
of the stardust from which their atoms were formed,
of the breath God breathed into their lungs.

I can’t free that woman
and others like her
by railing against.

But there is a beautiful invitation,
a wild song,
a burden lifted,
out here where
Eve is not a condemnation
but our guide
to a vast, spacious wilderness
where we co-create with God
new ways of being
that don’t include
taking responsibility
for everyone else’s actions.

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