The Book Of Genesis And The Effects It Has On Women In Society

Genesis was the first book containing biblical scriptures of Christianity, such as the Christian belief on how the world and humanity was created. This essay will specifically focus on first nine chapters of Genesis, in which emphasises how God created the world we see today, and how this fits within the cultural and historical context of Christianity. Much of the arguments will be seen via the perspective of feminism, and will argue that much of what was established in Genesis, as well as what was already established in society at the time of Genesis, influenced how women were expected to behave and the lasting effects it had on women in society to this day.

It is common knowledge that Christians are one of the most populous religious groups, and had many influences on history, politics and societies all over the world. Statistics from 2010 show that there are two billion two hundred million Christians around the world, for scale: thirty one percent of the entire world’s population. While it may not be the sole reason, or a very impactful one at that, this still implies regardless how at least a third of society sees women, possibly playing a small role in societal history, such as the reason women historically have had lesser rights and why they are portrayed a certain way (in other words weaker and less superior to the male species).

While there’s no way of every truly knowing, it can be assumed that when Genesis was written in 900–700 bce, with men being biologically stronger, women were obedient and compliant to what they wanted. To put it simply, the concept of the survival of the fittest was and will always be applicable. This meant Genesis painting men as the superior species of humankind.

In Genesis 1:26, the book depicts God creating man by making ‘man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth’. The choice of diction in which ‘man’ was very specifically stated gives the impression that men are superior. This is emphasised with the noun ‘dominion’, almost implying that men have control which allows for almost a God complex in believing they are comparable to this immortal larger than life spiritual being, especially given the fact that there is mention of how men are essentially in control of sea, air and land.

While subtle it can also be noted that Genesis 1:27 states ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them’. God created man as a reflection of himself seen in ‘God created he him’, again, implicating a God complex as mentioned prior, and females are only described as ‘he them’ within this extract, giving the impression of the female species coming only as an afterthought.

Women in society have always been always been seen as the person behind man, the silent assist. This specific argument can be seen in Genesis 2:18 in which God states ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.’

In addition, Genesis 2:22 exemplifies the concept of the male species playing a more significant role in society than women is seen the aforementioned stanza ‘And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man’. Not only does this give the impression that a woman isn’t as whole as a man but also that she was made for men, as seen in ‘brought her unto the man’. This can still be reflected in current society, where women are expected to be nurturing and motherly.

Furthermore, this quotation could be broken down even more explicitly, in which a possible interpretation regards God creating woman out of different material (Adam’s rib) as opposed to clay because women and men are intended to be different. Women, in this case, can be depicted as an extension of man, intended to be a companion and hence made from man, explicitly told by Adam when he says ‘This at last is my bone of bones, and flesh of my flesh’ in Genesis 2:23. This is mirrored in modern day societal expectation for women to be more dependent than men.

Women are also seen as more naïve and gullible, as well as almost a weakness for men, hence in Genesis 3:6 ‘And when the woman [Eve] saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband [Adam] with her; and he did eat’. Eve is seen as the cause and catalyst for both her and Adam to be damned by God, because she listened to the snake with the knowledge and memory that God explicitly told them not to eat the fruit from the tree. She almost plays the role of a femme fatale when tempting Adam into eating the fruit. This particular quotation highlights what is assumed of women: that they tend to be more emotional and unstable, following her desires without logical thought, requiring a man to give a sense of direction in what is right or wrong.

In conclusion, Genesis shows little distinction between man meaning “humankind” versus man meaning “the male of the human species”. While Christianity and, more specifically, Genesis can only be held partly accountable to women’s position in society, this essay has at least most definitively argued that many subconscious ideals of what women are expected to be in society can be traced extremely far back into history: even all the way back to Genesis.

Works Cited

  • “Christian Population and Statistics: GRF.” Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, 
16 December 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now