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Men giving birth to women:

Mate Griffon To Mare
Yup, another gender thread.

Men giving birth to women is a common theme in mythology. A lot of cultures have a myth in which a man gives birth to a woman. For instance, Zeus gave birth to Athena, Adam gave birth to Eve, and Purusha gave birth to Virat. I'm wondering why this sort of legend is so common. In my opinion, there's a nice explanation for it, and a not-so-nice one.

The nice explanation is that it's symbolic of the circle of life. It completes/creates a cycle to say "man gave birth to woman, and then woman ave birth to man."

The not-so-nice explanation is that it's sexism or womb envy. Saying that women came after/from men could possibly be a way of implying that women are subordinate to men.

So which do you think it is? Any other ideas?
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Was?
Nitpick, but isn't the most common version of the Adam and Eve myth that God ripped a rib out of Adam and used that the make Eve, not him actually giving birth to her? Unless we count divine cloning as birth I suppose.

Zeus gave birth to Athena only because he ate her mother when she was pregnant.

 4 pvtnum 11, Mon, 28th Feb '11 10:59:29 AM from Kerbin low orbit Relationship Status: We finish each other's sandwiches
linkup
I like the nice explanation better, actually. If that was how it worked - males birthed females only, and vice versa, I bet our gender biases would - well, they'd be different. Not sure if they would be gone. Not even sure how that woudl even work. Bizzare sexual dimorphism or something? Or am I thinking of something else?

Although really, Mpreg is all sorts of biologically.... challenging.
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 5 Ratix, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:02:58 AM from Someplace, Maryland
My guess is it's symbolic of the supernatural aspect, but reflects the sexism surrounding the myths. Traditionally, men made a name for themselves and women were revered for giving birth to said men. This is seen as the natural order of things, so something like a man giving birth to a woman would be seen as a supernatural imitation of the same relationship.

 6 Tzetze, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:02:58 AM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
Wikipedia's article suggests that Purusha is ungendered, which would make the myth weirdly similar to Ein Sof's emanation of Barbelo, not that that's very related.
 7 Usht, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:07:27 AM from an arbitrary view point.
Lv. 3 Genasi Wizard
To be honest, womb envy sounds about as stupid as penis envy and simplifies gender identity problems. However, my guess at this is that like most of history, men got to do the writing, which meant sexism in favor of the men got through. Not a happy thought, but hey, lots of early history wasn't exactly a happy time.
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 8 Mark Von Lewis, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:07:34 AM from Somewhere in Time Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
KCCO
I think it's because in ancient cultures there was no taboo or legal sanction against getting high as fuck. Thus, my guess is people would get high as fuck and come up with crazy stories like men giving birth to women.

edited 28th Feb '11 11:08:03 AM by MarkVonLewis

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 9 Lady Momus, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:08:14 AM from My Own Little World
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The first two examples probably don't count as "giving birth", and I'm not familar with the third. I don't think that there really is a deeper meaning. If you want sexism, there's plenty of it in mythology, and they didn't bother being subtle about it. (Check out Hesoid, particularly the creation of Pandora.)
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"man gave birth to woman, and then woman ave birth to man"
IJBM: Using "man" (which is imho ungendered) instead of "a man" or "men"

I think the latter explanation is probably the more accurate one... men are the bosses, so they make everything of importance.
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 11 Usht, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:14:31 AM from an arbitrary view point.
Lv. 3 Genasi Wizard
I'm thinking more of how Zeus can screw every woman he saw and get away with it. That's true sexism right there.

Every time he had sex, it inevitably lead to war a few years later. Someone has got to stop that guy.
The thing about making witty signature lines is that it first needs to actually be witty.
 12 Mark Von Lewis, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:19:45 AM from Somewhere in Time Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
KCCO
Yeah if the poor woman said no, he'd flip shit and turn her into a donkey or something.

The guy was a real douche. He was the worst thing to happen to vaginas since yeast infections.
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 13 Pykrete, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:22:45 AM from Viridian Forest
NOT THE BEES
The Greek pantheon was more of a "try not to piss them off" flavor than a "paragon of virtue" one. I doubt that many of them had a thing for bull sex well okay, this being the Greeks it's honestly a bit hard to tell. tongue

edited 28th Feb '11 11:23:55 AM by Pykrete

 14 Usht, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:23:48 AM from an arbitrary view point.
Lv. 3 Genasi Wizard
Eh... the goddess of hearths was supposed to be a kind, caring woman.

Then again, she never showed up in any of the stories, ssooooo... neh.
The thing about making witty signature lines is that it first needs to actually be witty.
Athena, Hermes, and Hephaestus were usually nice.
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Azor Ahai
If nothing else, stories abut men giving birth to women are more unusual than ones about women giving birth to men.
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 17 Usht, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:30:41 AM from an arbitrary view point.
Lv. 3 Genasi Wizard
Last I checked, Athena was pretty vicious towards one of the women that just so happened to be picked by Zeus. Though I will admit, she was tragic character in the Greek mythology. The rest, I don't remember enough about them to say anything.
The thing about making witty signature lines is that it first needs to actually be witty.
[up]I don't remember that about Athena.

Hermes was the trickster god with the winged sandals. Hephaestus was the god who built robots.

edited 28th Feb '11 11:34:24 AM by silver2195

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 19 Pykrete, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:35:03 AM from Viridian Forest
NOT THE BEES
Athena still had a tendency to turn people who upstaged her into spiders and shit, but she was generally one of the nicer ones.

As I recall Hephaestus was pretty chill as his default state and it took a bit to annoy him as long as you avoided a few obvious Berserk Buttons. Hermes was a bit on the For the Lulz side but his douchebaggery was often more playful than malignant.

It's important to note that we're also dealing with a culture with very different accepted values. When I say the gods weren't always paragons of virtue that's not just by our standards — even Greeks who were a good deal more...straightforward about things thought some of them were pretty assholeish.

edited 28th Feb '11 11:37:24 AM by Pykrete

 20 Rottweiler, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:40:34 AM from Portland, Oregon
Dog and Pony Show
[up] I love the bits in The Iliad where Ares gets beat up and Homer has Zeus mock him for being an ass.
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 21 Fish 1, Mon, 28th Feb '11 11:48:56 AM from Lovecraft Country
2 Fish
Hephaestus doesn't get mad, he gets even: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hephaestus#Hephaestus_and_Aphrodite
Indeed.
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If such things like "penis envy" and "womb envy" can be wide spread and not mainly found only among transgender persons, I'd say this sounds an awful lot like womb envy.
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Mate Griffon To Mare
[up] I'd guess that some people have penis envy and womb envy, but it's not that widespread. Transgenderism, I'd guess, is a totally different phenomenon.
"All pain is a punishment, and every punishment is inflicted for love as much as for justice." — Joseph De Maistre.
[up][up][up]Wikipedia leaves out my favorite Hephaestus myths (the ones about him building robots).
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 25 Chagen 46, Mon, 28th Feb '11 3:23:43 PM from I don't really know
Adam didn't give birth to Eve, god made her out of his bone so he would have someone else to talk to so he wouldn't go psycho.
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