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Helen Gilbert, masters in folklore and professor at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, speaking before the Spring Area Women's Conference at the Germain Hotel in St. Cloud. The title of the speech was "Women in Mythology."

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It seems to be unforgivable for a folklorist to start a speech without joke, so I complied and that tradition. It's not chosen particularly for his humor value. However, it seems he's to Suburban men were sitting in a bar and one of them says hey, I brought my bought my wife a new automatic garage door opener. All you did that really work. You better believe it. She doesn't even have to push the button when she comes driving up the driveway the doors fly open and sheer Terror. Well, that sounds like a pretty typical contemporary joke about Dad women drivers. One thing the folklore does to validate are stereotypes the group and one of the stereotypes of women. Of course, is it there an app to his mechanical devices? The little woman creating Havoc when she tries to operate something so complicated as a car. Is the folklorist business to try to look beneath the surface to find deeper meanings in humor for the people who people who tell it. This particular joke in the light of centuries of folklore is a particularly revealing example, I think of the bad driver type the steer up a woman out of control. When you put put a woman behind the wheel of a car you give her power if we're to believe Vance Packard the car for us Society is the ultimate symbol of power. How often do you hear men who are deploring women's livesafe women driving trucks, but a devastating thing a woman can do with all that power. The response is one as a joke Express. Is it of sheer Terror? I mentioned looking at that joke in the light of centuries of folklore. When you look at the folklore of the past a definite pattern emerges he bought about women woman as an evil principal as an object of fear who must be controlled if size Society is to continue to operate Alfred North Whitehead the modern flasker once wrote that when you're criticizing the thinking of a. Don't just direct your attention to the propositions that are being defended explicitly. There will be some assumptions and every system that its adherents unanimously presuppose such assumptions appear. So obvious the people don't know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them. one of those most basic assumptions of all is about the evil nature of woman and the need then from then on to dominate her Mary Daly the feminist Theologian points out that even if we get women equally in all walks of life that would be meaningless until we face and under my nose basic assumptions, but I called him if the feminine eagle Folklore because his non-institutionalized uncensored expression of traditional beliefs. It's sort of like the dreams of a whole culture reveals, the unconscious attitudes of people and continues to form our attitudes as it goes on through to the ocean. I saw a film last week the man in the glass booth in which one character referring to the stereotypes of Jews said you don't understand the significance of folklore when you say it enough times it becomes true. Well with that in mind I proposed to hop skip through the centuries looking at some of the significant forms of folklore. Remember that folklore isn't just the folklore of its. It has an enduring cumulative nature the ancient miss the Puritan witch hunts. These are all part of our current imagery in literature television our daily speech and the ways that we think and behave. So let's begin that at the beginning and that would be with he's right but know before Eve there was Lilith. Jewish Scholars noted that in Genesis. There are two creation stories one of course is about Adam's Rib, but the other one Janice want Genesis 1:27 says God created man male and female. He created them. In Hebrew, the word for man is not the same as the word for male as it has become in our language. The Jewish Scholars interpreted that there had been another woman before Eve. And that was Lilith supposedly. They were created out of dust as twins back-to-back this became important in the Middle Ages and both Jewish and Christian having been created at the same time as Adam refuse to be subservient to him and to be a servant so she left him and was turned out of paradise. Before creating meet God sent Three Angels after her to try to persuade her to come back, but she refused her punishment for that was it she was to lose 100 of her Offspring everyday? Well here we have the first woman out of control the archetype for North for Epson Sonora going out and slamming the door louder. I'll try. And for all those women of today who are leaving because they don't want to be servants anymore. Well lillis the independent woman became the embodiment of feminine evil. She was a legend thought to be the queen of the Demons. Sometimes the wife of the devil the Jews believe that she would steal babies. You can still in the Orthodox Jewish sections of New York by amulets to hang in the room with a small baby that say the names of The Three Angels. I won't try to pronounce them Adam N Eve buying Lilith in Hebrew to prevent to protect the child. Is also their belief that they shot him the evil spirits. We're born of Lilith after she slept with Adam again after the expulsion from Paradise. And Christians Legend. She was thought to be a succubus which is a kind of evil spirit that sleeps with men who are asleep. It comes to them in the night and then out of this she produces demon Offspring a man who woke up after nocturnal emission had to recite a charm to prevent her from him. So there you have the original morning after contraceptive. We'll get back to that concept little are discussing witchcraft, but for the moment, we really ought to return to Eve. What more is there to say about Eve Estelle Randy did a pretty good job on her? It was her seductiveness the let out Amanda send it's interesting. I think that Adam's fall is when is important to you logically as you would expect he was created with the nature to make the serpent come to her he knew where to go and of the nature to make her try to seduce Adam. She is our archetype of the woman who is evil but is also irresistible the punishment of course for their sin was a division of labor his labor in the fields her labor and childbirth. That division of labor was necessary the kind of primitive Society out of which that story group. But it's become immoral directives that has lasted long after the necessity has been diminished. Black culture has two important strands in the Heritage the judeo-christian and the Greek. So that's the early Greek contribution to the evil, Miss. In the Greek pantheon of gods there were female goddesses and they were strong and wise nobody worried about giving them good characteristics. There was Artemis the hunter Pallas Athena the goddess of wisdom. He was respected enough to have the Parthenon built in her honor, but with human beings the story is quite different. In the first stages of Greek prehistory according to myth. The only humans were men and they got along famously. Nobody says about how they reproduced. Prometheus one of the race of Titans and older group of guys liked men and he wanted to help them. So he stole fire for them from Olympus and he also worked out Trick in regard to sacrifices. So that Zeus chose the extra parts of the animal for sacrifice and left a good meat for human being so they can carry on their sacrifices that way from that time on was it was having only recently is it send it to the throne of the Gods was very jealous of his authority and he resented Prometheus undermining it so he wanted to punish Prometheus and the worst way and he figured that the way to do this was by hurting mankind because for me to get scared so much for them. So he ordered his fastest who was the blacksmith God to create a woman out of Earth. The guys gave her all kinds of gifts. Her name Pandora means the well-endowed. She was sweet and lovely Maiden Lee and irresistible. Epimetheus the brother of Prometheus have been warned not to accept any kind of a gift from Zeus, but he just couldn't resist Pandora when she was offered. The Greek source that tells the story ends from her the first woman comes the race of women who are an evil to man with a nature to do evil. And that's all there is to the story that we are familiar with the version which Pandora comes carrying a jar or box? And she's just too curious to leave the top on even though she's been ordered to so she opens it and all the bills that have plagued mankind ever since come flying out. She closed it in X leave behind Only Hope which is our only compensation will that version I think is better known to us partly because of the analogy to the story of Eve and her curiosity about the Apple. partly because of our proverbial use of Pandora's Box but the other version is the earlier one and Closer probably to the method it was believed rather than to the literary version. And that one is the woman herself. Not only her curiosity who causes all the ills of mankind. It's giving the woman to man that constitutes the punishment simply by being woman. She brought evil into the lives of men. Man's weakness laying his attraction to her physical charms. And here I think lies the essence of the traditional view of woman's nature man wants to see himself as powerful. So he hates his weakness and giving into her sexual term that gives up some power to her. This is essentially and symbolically the fear of castration which is portrayed quite literally sometimes in our presence in the motif of the vigina dentata the vagina with teeth. Just realized into a weak weeping figure who is harmless and not fearful because she has no more power than a child. With only her beauty going for her. She's totally dependent on the man to make her real by responding to her beauty. So she can't risk wielding any power. This is the same of the mutable romances and ethics one of the archetypes of women in the folktales. The second portrayal of woman is as the sheer figure of Terror. When they're not controlled by their dependence on men women get out of control their evil nature is free to assert itself and they become frightened inspectors. Are two forms of this type one is the ugly old witch or the old hag. The other is the beautiful lustful seductress as Circe in The Odyssey La Llorona in Spanish tradition one story. I collected around here about a Norwegian story about a beautiful seductress it that stands behind the trailer and lures man cave when they get there. They find out that she has a tail of a cow, which is the symbol of evil. this woman is believed to be seething with an insatiable carnal lust Psychologically, I think that's the projection onto them of men who hate their weakness and not being able to resist them. Example of the second type first. Let's look a little bit at witches and with witchcraft in the Middle Ages. The first witches were women real women to follow the totemistic religions of ancient Europe. These were fertility Cults who worship nature sexuality and the creative and regenerative power of women. It's not hard to see I think why women chose to remain faithful to that religion. Some of the Celtic practices involve dancing in the woods fertility rituals all kinds of magic and the use of natural herbal drugs for say you could use for healing for poisoning and for hallucinogenic purposes. probably where the belief in flying came from They would take some some of their hallucinogenic drugs before their rights, and then they believe they can fly to. They had a very extensive knowledge of herbal medicine affect. These women were used as midwives as medical practitioners by other people who needed them, but also fear them for their occult knowledge There's some evidence that I find fascinating that the fairies are real people that there was a real race of small people in Europe not unlike the Africa. they lived in the woods and their homes were small dirt Mounds that were partially underground love the women who communicated with the fairies were thought to be witches that's part of the of the lower, but it may be true that they got some of their knowledge of Woodcraft and herbal medicines from the fairies. The word which etymologically has the same root as the words wit and wisdom meaning to know. Thurston was the same as he's wanting to know beyond good and evil wanting to know too much. That's what gets women in trouble. Bunch of 1484 The Witches were not persecuted by the Christian Church. They were thought to be heathens, which is non-believers rather than Heretics which is wrong Believers, and that was much worse. 1484 Pope Innocent reverse this decision and made it a heresy punishable by death. He commissioned to monks to write the malleus maleficarum and Latin which means the hair or against evildoers, which is a huge work that defined witchcraft describe their practices and standardized trial procedures about witchcraft for all of Europe. Is estimated that in the next two centuries until the end of the seventeenth Century there were nine million witches executed. Almost entirely women there were a few men, but most of the evidence from the records shows that these were political enemies are people who are getting a little too ambitious in the wrong place. The Amelia says that men were protected by virtue of superior intellect and faith. And because Christ died to preserve the male sex from so great a sin. It says that women were more likely to become witches because they were more credulous and impressionable. They have slippery tongue so they can't keep their evil secrets to themselves. They're weaker and body and spirit and especially because they're insatiably lustful. Witches were believed to have the powers of divination. Transforming themselves and others in the different forms line various kinds of enchantments and power over other people through charms and spells you can identify which buy a scar that she received during one of the rituals in the woods and women were often shaved all over to see if there were any stars hiding under the hair. They also were unable to We Three Tears at the very most and they carry a staff usually have Hazel or a rod of some kind. We have witch hazel in our current Cosmetics is little survival of that. Another survival is the use of the divining Rod to find water. Usually Hazel stick and that sometimes called water witch. Well liked lillis they married they visited sleeping men and often for a man to have a dream about a woman ended up in a slow burning at the stake for her. The fertility Cults worship the horned God represented as a goat and that became identified with the Christian devil. Their fertility rituals under the oppression of Christianity changed into a debased parody of the Eucharist, which we know it's the Black, Mass. What are antacids on sexual license and the worship of the natural creative power of women made the witches a powerful symbol of evil specifically the evil of the feminine nature? Many women were persecuted in the witch fever who is Chief crime was being female. The which is the symbol of famine and evil as woman out of control has become an important character in folklore since that time and legendary and in what we call the Fairy Tail. Folklorist call American to avoid the fairytale thing, I guess because they're not very often about fairy. It was a witch, of course who cotton wanted to read Hansel and Gretel a witch who locked Rapunzel in the tower a witch who gave Sleeping Beauty to spend all the prick your finger. I wish they gave Snow White the Apple And maybe an old witch and ugly old hag or simply an old woman in the stories who is the villain her evil feminine nature and disguise by any youthful Beauty? Will the other feminine type is the tender sweet young thing? depth in the mountain for example Rapunzel Cinderella Snow White The prince is so delicate. She could feel pee through 28 mattresses. The maiden without hands the fluttering Swan Maiden The Virgin who's going to be sacrificed to the fiery dragon with the widest hands or the tiniest feet. Please represent idea Womanhood in the eyes of men innocent for which we ignorant contained controlled childlike. Sometimes I wonder how you get from one to the other, you know how and the happily-ever-after did those young virgins change into old hags? I think it must have happened instantly. Right, that's exactly. I think it must have happened instantly when they lost their virginity and gained a sexual knowledge. Well so far been talking about European folklore. What about specifically American views of women in the folklore? Actually, there isn't very much. Most of our folklore is about men. Of course the witches came over on the Mayflower. And the Puritans may have had more horror of the medieval then did the monks in the Middle Ages, you find a few scattered Tales of witches in the current oral tradition. I've collected one in this area about a cat who was running around loose at night and someone cut off his paw and the next day a weird woman in the town was seen walking around with a bloody bandage over her stump of a wrist. Of the European folktales. There are only two cycles that have made their way to America. What is call the Jack will in time Tales or just the Jack tales that are found in Appalachian the Ozarks cumming mean obviously from the name of the cycle. It's the males who are the main characters Rapunzel and Cinderella and those didn't make it an oral tradition in America. Those have the usual old hags and young virgins when the necessary for the plot. The other cycle is bear rabbit and those stories are primarily concerned with male characters. and Anglo American ballads most of which deal with star-crossed lovers find some women of character Francis Barbara Allen one of the most universally known and loved those signs. At least one male folklore. I said that her wide appeal comes from the fact that she represents the strong American castrating female. If you look at our folk Heroes Davy Crockett, Paul Bunyan, John Henry Mike's Bank. You don't find any women. Let's maybe you want to talk about Calamity Jane the bitch goddess of the Western frontier. I think it's in jokes the most pervasive American folk form. Anyway that we see the American view of women a startling percentage of the jokes put down women. literally on their backs or figuratively they can't balance the checkbook. They talk incessantly have headaches a lot. Spend money like it's going out of style and deny their husbands the pleasures of life. you examples just When's it happened to turn out for the last few days? This was in the Reader's Digest. My wife talks to her plants for 3 hours every day. I want to ask the geranium. How do you stand it? The geranium said who listens? A man and his wife were walking along with the soup when the gorilla reached out grab the woman and pulled her into his cage. He began tearing off her clothes getting more excited by the moment. She's screaming her husband. Help me help me. What can I do? And he's just telling you have a headache. This one's really I think kind of cute three white men are in the waiting room for expectant fathers. And the nurse comes out carrying a little black baby. She asked the first man is this yours and he says no way the second man is it yours know it's not. Mine. Is it yours? Well, it might be my wife burned everything else. What Americans have done with the myth of famine and evil is to trivialize it in jokes? The woman is not so much an object to fear as of contempt incompetent and Powerless kept in her place by the humor of Riddick ridicule. She's not frightening. Maybe the joke's accurately reflects what we have let ourselves become. Women play a part in this whole thing by accepting the humor ridicule to how many of us have never been put in the position of either having to laugh at a joke that puts down women. Or not laughing and being told the trouble with women is they don't have any sense of humor? recently, the women's movement has begun to develop some folklore of its own and I do want to mention that Some of it consists of parodies Harry Truman's favorite proverb. If you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen has been changed to if you can stand the heat stay out of the kitchen the model of the political women's caucus. the one about to all women are like if you put a bag over their head has become all men are the same if you turn them upside down. the Revolutionary song We Shall Not Be Moved is now we shall not be screwed. There are new jokes popping up. I got someone who comes back from the dead and everybody anxiously says did you see God? Yeah, she's black. The women's movement had got a new words for vocabulary some of the workshops yesterday. Was those sexism male chauvinist big consciousness-raising Etc. Their slogans on buttons and bumper stickers. No one was wearing a wonderful hat yesterday. I don't see it with the buttons all over it things like don't agonize organize Liberty equality, Sisterhood. They're even a couple of folk dramas coming out of the women's movement in America is very very short on folk dramas these consist a little skit. One of them is a man in the position of trying to hold a job and also run a household with several children and it's just an improvisation on the kinds of things that he gets into and the other is a man. He's told us he's pregnant. And take your marks. Well, these folks are still reflex separateness isolation. Fighting back. It may be a necessary transition for a phase. But I guess I hope that someday that kind of folks won't be around either maybe when we all get together the folklore will vanish there are. Boonton this one folklore Theory the esoteric exoteric theory for my suit superhero. There are few. Which says that conflicting folklore of folklore from about one group by another tense to develop when three conditions are present isolation and maybe geographical or maybe isolation in terms of lifestyle or parents are dress. The kill your knowledge and the fact that one group generates all or fear, but I think that when people get together and get to know each other when the sexuality the other becomes less of a mystery that that kind of folklore will disappear. Perhaps the ideal age of equality will produce a new kind of folklore along that lines of the story of Atalanta on the record free to be you and me. I hope that most of you have heard that and if you haven't I see the record and the Book of for sale downstairs in the Gold Room. This is a really folklore, but it's a reworking of an ancient Greek myth. Animation vs. Atalanta is a beautiful courageous and independent half goddess and she can run faster than anyone. She had many suitors one book that I was reading on this says it may be surprising that such a woman would have suitors but true. But she didn't want to marry. She finally agreed that you would marry any man who could beat her in a foot race. Well one man one man, which Aphrodite and was given three golden apples and in the race, he kept his cool and as they were running along she was ahead of him. He threw down the golden apples one of us one at a time and she couldn't resist stopping to pick them up. So that was her undoing and he want her. When the modern reworking this Atalanta is a completely mortal woman a king's daughter. She's clever and her beauty is never mentioned. She agrees to marry the man who out raises her and then she practices every day until she can run like the wind. Well young John has seen her and he's very interested. So he practice is also no tricks this time in the race. He pulled ahead of the other man and catches up beside her. Then the record says with a man and woman's voice reading together until he ran as her equal side by side with her for the golden ribbon that Mark the Finish. Smiling with the pleasure of the race at Atlanta and Young John reach the Finish Line together and together. They broke through the golden ribbon that marked it for the king wants to give his daughter to John cuz he's come closer than anyone to winning. The John Atlanta agree that they want to become acquainted and to be friends first. They want to go out to see the world and maybe later decide to marry or maybe not in any case they are both living happily ever after. Well, maybe that doesn't have the pizzazz of the old romances and maybe it'll never sell but personally I get Shivers every time I hear the description of that race. I feel like that's the way it oughta be both of them giving it all they've got going in the same direction and smiling with the pleasure of it.


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