Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Proverbs, Chapters 30 & 31: The biblical roots of women's fashion magazines

Chapter 30

Someone named Agur takes over the writing of the book here. No word on how many wives he has or whether he's ever tried to cut up a baby. He does admit to being somewhat of a bad boy, neither educated nor a believer. He then goes on to say the same banal, repetitive things as Solomon about wisdom, lying, and being kind to the poor.

Like every old person ever in the history of the world, he criticises the young, saying they mistreat their parents, that their shit don't stink, they're arrogant, they're mean to poor people.

Then he gives us a Zen Koan about leeches and dissatisfaction. Apparently, leech suckers are never satisfied, which Agur informs us is true for four other things things: the grave, a barren womb (rich, in a culture that tells women their value comes in producing sons), a desert and fire.

If you disrespect your parents, ravens will come and peck your eyes out. Four things Agur thinks are awesome: eagles, snakes, boats, men wooing women. That's a pretty random list. Adulterous women will always deny it.

Four things the earth hates: slaves in charge, fools eating, bridezillas, maids who become mistresses. Ooh, someone doesn't like Hagar! Four wise things: ants, badgers, locusts, spiders. Four things he thinks are sexy: lions (rawr!), greyhounds, billy goats and powerful kings.

Chapter 31

Agur can't think of any more groups of four, so he passes the spirit stick over to someone called King Lemuel, who wants to share what his mother taught him. First, don't give your balls to a woman to keep in her handbag, no matter how warm it is inside there. Second, no drinking. Poor people may drink to forget their sorrows.

Be an advocate for the downtrodden. There are no virtuous women. Of course he says nothing about what happened to their virtue. Here's how you tell if you have one of these rare gems: she works hard, spins flax and wool, goes out to gather food, gets up early to cook, plants a vineyard despite the fact that only poor people are allowed to drink, works out, stays up late despite rising early, gives to charity, shovels the snow, makes warm clothes for her family and is a fashion plate.

Her husband, of course, is to be found sitting around the city gate drinking tea and gossiping with the other men.

The virtuous woman is an entrepreneur who sells her weaving. She's well educated and kind, is never idle (unlike her husband), and her children praise her. The one thing she doesn't have to be is beautiful.

So, even then women were constantly told they could never measure up.

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