I'm reading Tikva Frymer-Kensky's book, Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories. Every chapter gives me a different look at a passage about one of the women of the Bible. I'm very much enjoying the reading, and have had lots of "blog thoughts," although I haven't written any of them down. Yet.
The chapter I'm reading today is about Dinah. Genesis 34:1 says, "Out went Dinah the daughter of Leah whom she bore to Jacob, to see the girls of the land."
Out went Dinah....
This is the only phrase in the story in which Dinah is the object of the verb. Even though the rest of the story is about what happened to her, and the responses to it, it is not about Dinah herself.
My first reaction was that we should all follow suit. Go out. Meet people. Develop relationships even among those we do not understand.
The author writes that the phrase "out went Dinah" might have another implication for those who originally heard the story. The culture in which Dinah lived -- and not just the Israelite culture, but much of the world's culture at the time, was patriarchal. When a woman "goes out" in a patriarchal society, she leaves the protection of her family. She is vulnerable, but the family is also vulnerable. What happens to her could have a poor impact on her family.
"The laws of Hammurabit demonstrate this attitude" when they speak to the idea of divorce. A woman who is seen as a "gadabout" (which literally means 'the woman who goes out') and who wants a divorce, is thrown into the river. The word had such a negative connotation that "an Old Babylonian word list equates it...with prostitute." They walk the street. They have gone out.
Even today, remnants of this attitude exist. Think for a moment about the word "streetwalker."
I go out. I am not, of course, a prostitute, but each day, I leave my home and I "go out." Sometimes I encounter resistance because of it, even though I'm sure no one considers that I am selling s*x. (avoiding odd search engines -- sorry). I wonder if the idea of "going out" -- the woman leaving the protection (and authority, perhaps) of the patriarchal family and going out on her own has impacted our society's unconscious response to women who work outside the home. Or who "go out" from the submissive role of wife to impact the world.
Is what we do seen as wrong -- even subconsciously -- because we are "going out"?