I knew from the first thought of doing the challenge this year that I wanted to do the word vessel for the letter V.
Women being thought of as vessels is a problematic, but common concept. I suspect it is one of the most harmful iconic visualizations of women in the world.
I do not want to disparage any belief, if it is a loving belief or a fact-based belief. I will not honor hateful or demeaning beliefs. Simply referring to women as a vessel is demeaning, it is akin to referring to men as tools. If you want to take the verse from 1 Peter about weaker vessels as some sort of justification for misogyny, please read and comment over at The Myth of the Weaker Vessel. As that article states,
It says as, not is. The misquoted version leaves out the terribly important word as (Gk. hōs.) The Bible doesn’t say, “The women is a weaker vessel.” It says, “Show her honor as a weaker vessel.” Those little letters make a big difference. It’s not an equivalency but a comparison.
Once humans figured out that sperm had something to do with pregnancy, men seemed to want to take possession of their erratic projectiles to which eggs allowed entrance, though had they known about eggs perhaps much turmoil and subjugation might have been avoided. Put quite bluntly women are not vessels for men’s genetic materials. Like everything related to humans, male and female must increasing act together in collaborative action if we are to continue to live and thrive on Earth.
I truly love the notion that there was once a matrifocal society. We do not know that however. The myth of the ancient peaceful matriarchy is just that, a myth. We have no evidence of that. We do have artistic evidence of women being pretty damn important to early, prehistoric, cultures around the world. Fertility and the ability to bring forth new life is freaking impressive! It was most likely held in awe until a prescientific worldview by some Mesopotamian folks realized the concept of paternity when they began breeding animals for traits from mother and father, and decided to create a patriarchal conceptualization of the world that justified ownership and control over other living beings such as livestock and women.
I’ve often thought about writing an alternate history where a feminist time travels back to Biblical times and offs Abraham or perhaps Zoroaster and reroutes human culture away from the big three patriarchal religions. If I ever knock off all the books lined up waiting to be written in my brain, I will get around to it. I have to get my damn medical abuse memoir written and published, even it self-published so I can get on to the fun stuff!
In any case, I do not believe that domestication of a few animals that happened to be amenable to human manipulation (all herd animals) needed to create the notion in some men’s minds that women could be controlled too, and owned along with children. Someone back then, (Sarah maybe?) should have noticed the passing on of both sexes traits in offspring and not allowed the one-sided story of children somehow being generated solely by the father with the mother just being a container. If only mitochondrial DNA had been understood back then! We would have actually known that women contribute more DNA, via mitochondria, than men, and so much heartache might have been avoided. (See my post Xes, Sexes, and Mitochondrial DNA for a fun post from an A to Z challenge a few years ago for the challenging letter X.)
If women are to be thought of as vessels then we should work to include men in this conceptualization as we are both vessels for some of the best and worst traits in our species. Let’s work on becoming vessels of love and light, shall we?