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Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "The Woman's Bible": Exodus

If you will remember, in 1895, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other noted feminist writers published The Woman's Bible, which reexamines the Bible from a 19th century feminist perspective. It is the shit.

The second book of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, and something Christianity has in common with Judaism) is Exodus. Exodus has the story of the Israelites fleeing Egypt, Moses parting the Red Sea, the creation of the Ten Commandments, and the journey to the Promised Land. Basically it's this movie:

80-year-old Elizabeth Cady Stanton once again comes out swinging with:

The question naturally suggests itself to any rational mind, why should the customs and opinions of this ignorant people, who lived centuries ago, have any influence in the religious thought of this generation?


Women have had no voice in the canon law, the catechisms, the church creeds and discipline, and why should they obey the behests of a strictly masculine religion, that places the sex at a disadvantage in all life's emergencies?

I mean. Daaamn, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Is this 1789, 'cause I sense a revoLUTION. 

Something I hadn't even thought about is how -- obviously -- only men can be circumcised, which meant only men could be consecrated to God. Way. to. leave. out. half. the. population. Stanton points out that women were "permitted to violate the moral code of laws to secure liberty for their people, but they could not officiate in any of the sacraments, nor eat of the consecrated bread at meals."

Another truly excellent point is that men will rarely violate something they have been trained to respect. Because women are essentially not on the list, but are in fact consciously and unconsciously seen as lesser, they are attacked all the time. As she says, "Males are the race, females only the creatures that carry it on."

At every stage of his existence Moses was indebted to some woman for safety and success. Miriam, by her sagacity, saved his life. Pharaoh's daughter reared and educated him and made the way possible for the high offices he was called to fill; and Zipporah, his wife, a woman of strong character and decided opinions, often gave him good advice.

Hell yeah he is. 

What was that? You wanted a longer quote that involves ECS sticking it to Revolutionary War men? DONE.

So tired were the children of Israel waiting at the foot of Mount Sinai for the return of Moses, that Aaron to pacify them made a golden calf which they worshipped. To procure the gold he took the jewelry of the women young and old, men never understanding how precious it is to them, and the great self-sacrifice required to part with it. But as the men generally give it to them during courtship, and as wedding presents, they feel that they have a vested right therein for emergencies.
It was just so in the American Revolution, in 1776, the first delicacy the men threw overboard in Boston harbor was the tea, woman's favorite beverage. The tobacco and whiskey, though heavily taxed, they clung to with the tenacity of the devil-fish. Rather than throw their luxuries overboard they would no doubt have succumbed to King George's pretensions. Men think that self-sacrifice is the most charming of all the cardinal virtues for women, and in order to keep it in healthy working order, they make opportunities for its illustration as often as possible. I would fain teach women that self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.

Who thinks about that! No one thinks about that! No one but Elizabeth Cady Stanton! I'm mad FOR you, women of the 18th century. That is some bullshit.

Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice. We are still having a hard time with that one as a gender. Because we're still subtly taught to be helpful and self-effacing and yes, sacrificing. Self-development makes you a person who is able to give more. It can sound selfish, but fuck. that. noise. Elizabeth Cady Stanton says you should work on yourself, so you work on yourself. Not even work on! That's not positive enough! You develop yourself. Becoming awesomer each day, except some days when you just wanna sit back and watch old episodes of 30 Rock, and that's okay too

...that's okay too.


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