Idiots Review “The Woman’s Bible”

Idiots Review “The Woman’s Bible”

This post was originally going to be a quick note about how much I like Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Not only was she an outspoken feminist during a time when women in the US couldn’t even vote, but she was also an outspoken critic of religion, despite the protestations of many of her fellow feminists. Scripture back then was often quoted to prove that men were better than women. Kind of like now. Only worse.

I was thinking about her yesterday while making buttons, and suddenly I accidentally made one ECS Deal with it Button:

And then I wanted to make ECS quotation buttons, which was very difficult because my buttonmaker only makes 1.5″ buttons, which are cool but not very big. Your options when buying a buttonmaker are “cool and small” or “very large and unbelievably dorky.” So. Anyway.

While looking up good ECS quotations, I realized that I had never read The Woman’s Bible, the seminal work she wrote along with a committee of badasses like Matilda Josalyn Gage. The Woman’s Bible was in part a response to women’s exclusion from Biblical scholarship, like when the Church of England produced Bibles revised solely by men in the late 19th Century. It was also a way to provide women with an answer to those who quoted the Bible in support of women’s continued subjugation. There were some on the committee who believed that the misogynist reading of the Bible was a deliberate misinterpretation of the text, while others (like Gage) thought the text was anti-woman in and of itself.

That complexity is what intrigued me, so I decided to try to get my hands on a copy. Because I live in a world of copyright, it didn’t occur to me at first that it was in the public domain, so I searched on Amazon. I was delighted to find this free Kindle eBook (if you prefer, here it is on Project Gutenberg), which I downloaded and started reading last night. So far, it’s a quick, easy, and interesting read.

The fact that it’s so good, and also free, made me wonder why on Earth it would be rated at just 2.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. I went back and had a look at the reviews, and there I discovered an absolute treasure trove of religiously inspired ignorance. You see, people were searching on Amazon for a study Bible with notes specifically for Christian women, no doubt describing in simple terms why they should happily submit to their husband as he does to God. Lured in by the positively Satanic freeness of The Woman’s Bible, they happily clicked, either not knowing who Elizabeth Cady Stanton was or not noticing the author name at all.

Upon reading Stanton’s introduction, they found ideas like this:

So perverted is the religious element in [woman's] nature, that with faith and works she is the chief support of the church and clergy; the very powers that make her emancipation impossible.

and

Others say it is not politic to rouse religious opposition.

This much-lauded policy is but another word for cowardice.

and

The only points in which I [ECS] differ from all ecclesiastical teaching is that I do not believe that any man ever saw or talked with God. I do not believe that God inspired the Mosaic code, or told the historians what they say he did about woman, for all the religions on the face of the earth degrade her, and so long as woman accepts the position that they assign her, her emancipation is impossible.

Those unsuspecting theists who bothered to read and understand the intro were horrified, while others thumbed past it blissfully unaware until eventually they gave in to the growing concern that something was amiss. The poor, poor dears. These are their stories.

(Author name links to the full post, which I have occasionally condensed to just the most entertaining part. Click the link to see some brave intellectuals defending women’s suffrage. Post title is in bold. All typos are [sic].)

Electronic Geek

DECIVER!!!
This is in no way a Bible. I only read the first few pages and I believe anyone who agrees with this blasphemy is NOT a Christian.

Wayne Schwartz

Worst piece of feministic sacriligeous piece of crap I’ve had the misfortune to read
If I could I would rate this book minus 5 stars. The fact that this author has the gall to call this piece of horsecrap a “bible” is a shame and disgrace. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but when you write a book calling the Word of God an “incomplete” and “imperfect” work, and calling it the Bible, you are false teacher, and should be avoided like the plague. I fear for the very soul of the person who wrote this drivel.

B. Olakan (in reply to above):

Many “Christian feminists” do not realize that rebellion against God’s clear instructions is witchcraft (See 1 Samuel 15:23), by the Bible’s definition. Just like Eve in the garden, they are never satisfied with the rules God has laid down, but they must push the envelope, and cause untold hardship to the human race.
Feminism is rebellion against God’s clear laws. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. 1 Samuel 15:23

B. Olakan (subsequent comment in response to pushback from others)

And those who have followed feminism are reaping the benefits. They are leading lonely lives and unstable marriages. Their carcasses lay all over the place.

Wendy Wingrove

Warning
This bible is a new age book and not the Word of God. Twists scripture to form untruths. If you are a Christian, this “bible” is not for you….dangerous

K. Johnson

This is not a BIBLE at all
Where do I begin? This should not be called a “Woman’s Bible” by any means. Instead it should read “A Specific Woman’s Misunderstanding of the Bible.” If the author had attended a bible study, or had theological training, or even been a Christian, this book would not exist. The author tried to explain spiritual truths with a carnal outlook…what a tragedy.

Stefanie (in reply to above)

Wow, you are very uneducated about one of the most important women in US history. Maybe you should learn a little about the woman before claiming she knew nothing of theology. You just don’t like the fact that after studying it she came to a different conclusion than you did on the worthiness of organized religion.

B. Olekan (in reply to above)

Are you kidding me? She might be important in US history. But as far as spiritual truths are concerned, she is a nonentity, and definitely unqualified to pen any book with the word “Bible” in its title. What foolish arrogance!

Linnie Robinson

Heresy
This “bible” is not a bible at all, but is authored by Satan,the father of lies, and is the heretical imaginations of a deceived mind, who, in pride, has re-written portions of God’s Word to suit her carnal pride. The title of the book is deceptive, and could lead people into the deception that she has fallen prey to. She is very deceived, and is not “born again”, otherwise she would recognize the truth about the Trinity, and also she is not Biblically well-read, or she would recognize that Jesus Himself said “I will send the Holy Spirit and HE WILL LEAD YOU INTO ALL TRUTH.” NOT “SHE”!!! Poor woman…may God have mercy on her soul, or she will go where all unbelievers go…to the lake of fire.
Linnie Robinson (a Christian)

Pat Georgia (in reply to a reply to a reply to the above)

My point was that [Elizabeth Cady Stanton] was “biblically well-read”. Which one is the “REAL BIBLE”? I guess you mean one of the many versions that have been translated and edited by men?

Linnie Robinson (in reply to above)

Yes, Pat, Such as the King James version, or the New American Standard. In both versions the Holy Spirit is referred to as “He”, by Jesus. He is the final authority on who and “what” the Holy Spirit is, so I rest my case. And Jesus was a MAN, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!

Wendy (A++ use of uppercase, here)

Do Not Read
This is not a true Bible, The auther takes certain excerpts from the Bible and illistrates her DILUTED opinion.

Yolanda Clyburn

womens bible by stanton…..no stars
i was under the impression that i was downloading a womens bible and all i received was a lie.

A. Hinojosa “Addicted to my Kindle”

No functionality whatsoever
This reads exactly like a book…if you want access to Revelation…it’s going to take you a long time to get there.

I’ll just leave this here as a pick-me-up: there was at least one person who was searching for the Bible, ended up with this, and liked it:

qntparadise “Qiana ~ A Work in Progress…”

Kindle Download – The Woman’s Bible
Not quite what I expected, not the KJV; great historical facts included; free item – no complaints there! Thanks, Amazon!

And call me optimistic, but I think this person probably got a lot to think about, despite the 1-star review she gave, and the comments on her review are mostly great:

Danielle

I too was decieved
I believed I was getting a devotional as well and as I can appreciate the importance of the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. I certainly don’t believe this book has any purpose today. I began reading it and made it about a quarter the way through, feeling very uncertain of it from the very beginning. I tried to appreciate it as a piece of history, but eventually deleted it. As a Christian I believe that you cannot pick and choose pieces of the Bible to suit your purposes. Faith in God is believing THE TRUTH in it’s entirety without material proof. I pray that none take this book for more than it really is.

Following the publishing of The Woman’s Bible, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was pushed to the fringes of the movement she helped inspire. Susan B. Anthony took center stage in her place – she, too, was skeptical of religion, but I suppose she wasn’t nearly as uppity about it as Stanton.

So I hope that if you haven’t, you read and enjoy Stanton’s work, and maybe even give it a nice review on Amazon. Here’s what I’m thinking of writing:

Rebecca Watson

[5 stars] Great replacement for women’s devotional
I originally bought this to aid in my devotional, and I wasn’t sure it was for me after reading the first 50 pages or so. But trust me, the ending is worth it! Praise Jesus.

Okay, not really.

BTW, I did eventually make two quote buttons: one for ECS and one for Susan B. Anthony, even though I had to condense a bit. I think they still work well enough to wear to women’s Bible study on Sunday.

ECS quote button

SBA quote button

And one final happy note: I just saw this link for a free download of Feminism is for everybody by bell hooks. Enjoy!

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

41 Comments

  1. Two free feminism texts! And stupid Amazon reviews! Hooray for Internet®!

  2. The Danielle person’s comment… Wha… What church or Christian denomination DOESN’T pick and choose from scripture to serve their purposes? Bring up not eating meat on Friday and they’re like “Oh, no, that was just a mandate by the Pope because fishermen were doing poorly at the time.” or whatever their excuse is.

    My favorite version of this picking and choosing is when I see someone tattoo’d with the Leviticus “man shall not lay with man” since Leviticus also clearly states not to ink your skin.

    Unfortunately, I don’t own a Kindle or anything to be able to download this.

    Generally, I don’t understand how women can stand to be part of a patriarchal system that stresses their obedience and subservience. I guess it’s just easier to receive orders than think for yourself.

    • Unfortunately, most christians completely ignore the necessary cherry picking they do. After all, not eating shrimp or mixing fibers on clothing would be kinda difficult. And about downloading the books, you can try the kindle for PC application.

    • Just a heads up: you can download them both on your computer and view them as PDFs.

    • @Elly

      You don’t need a Kindle device to read it. You can read it via Kindle Cloud Reader on your Internet browser or Kindle for PC/Mac/iPad app.

      Or check it out on Project Gutenberg.

  3. We did a similar experiment in a psychology class in college. We took major stories from the Old Testament reversed the sexes of the stories making the men the brunt of yahweh’s idiocy for whatever contrived sin they committed. It was interesting getting the feedback from the class on how it made them feel. Most men felt that it was unfair and didn’t see the logic in the punishment that was being dealt out, but women felt a sense of confidence, stemming from the feeling (we felt) that some omnipotent power always had your back. They also felt it was somewhat fair, perhaps because they live in a world the deems religious reasoning to be ok. This was not at all scientific, and was strictly observational, but I really wanted to pursue this idea and never had the time. Imagine being raised by a Bible with all the sexes reversed, and generation upon generation had been raised that way. What would the world be like then? Its very hard to imagine, I would love to take a secluded population and try this experiment, but that’s probably illegal.

    • That’s an awesome experiment. And while it would be illegal and unethical (and completely unfeasible) to carry out the larger scale experiment I don’t think the results would convince anyone committed to the patriarchy of anything at all.

  4. The two quotes on the buttons are wonderful.

    • The “Deal with it!” button is great. Stanton’s hairdo makes it look like a colander like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster recommends as standard devotional headgear. :)

  5. Rebecca said it all except one thing… zOMG Buttons FTW!!!!! :)

  6. Great post. I lol’ed at Deal With It.

    What stood out to me in the reviews were the people raging that the Holy Spirit was a MAN not a icky WOMAN. It reminds me how, when I was a kid, I always wondered why the Holy Spirit was referred to as a male. How can it be a man if it’s just a spook with no body or brain? What would happen if he came to America and wanted to marry a woman? Or a man?

    I also remember being told that after Jesus returned to earth and all was well, the Holy Spirit would be given a body. And then I wondered what ethnicity the Spirit would be.

  7. Fabulous stuff.

    Stanton is arguably the top atheist of all time, as measured by quantity of productive ass-kicking performed in the service of major justice causes.

    • This makes me wonder if we should have a March Madness-style table to determine the top atheist of all time.

  8. May I also suggest Anne Royall? She was extremely outspoken about the necessity of separation of Church and State, and recognized by some sources as the first female journalist in America. She was incredibly influential, but we’ve mostly never heard of her because of the very strong backlash she received. She was actually tried and found guilty of being a “common scold” for her outspoken views on religion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Royall

  9. DILUTED opinion.

    What is this I don’t even.

    [5 stars]
    Great replacement for women’s devotional
    I originally bought this to aid in my devotional, and I wasn’t sure it was for me after reading the first 50 pages or so. But trust me, the ending is worth it! Praise Jesus.

    Devious and awesome. :D

  10. The Christian theory of the sacredness of the Bible has been at the cost of the world’s civilization. Whether we regard the work as custodian of the profoundest secrets of the “ancient mysteries,” a spiritual book trebly veiled, or as the physical and religious history of the world in its most material forms, its interpretation by the Church, by the State, and by society has ever been prejudicial to the best interests of humanity. Science, art, inventions, reforms of existing wrongs, all, all have been opposed upon its authority. That even the most enlightened nations are not yet out of barbarism is due to the teachings of the Bible.

    Matilda Joslyn Gage. (L. Frank Baum’s mother-in-law)

  11. Ha. When I volunteer tutor, a guilty little pleasure of mine is putting the seeds of free thought and critical thinking in the minds of Children with religious parents.

    What sweet joy it is to see bigots like this contradicted by their own children.

  12. All I can say is brilliant, wonderful, fantastic! Once again you’ve scored a bullseye with an intelligent and insightful post as well as providing me with another book to read.

  13. ROFLMAO … ECS wrote a New Age book?

    I should download it and read it again. I did a book report on it for 8th grade English. I don’t think the teacher was ready for it.

  14. I haven’t read a lot of that book. But what I have read I love. I’m all for the empowerment of women. Which is what, I think, this book sets out to do. Because I don’t believe for a minute that Elizabeth Cady Stanton agrees with any of the shite in the bible.

  15. You think we could talk PZ into unleashing the cepholophiliac horde onto amazon to get the ratings up a little? (And also add a few amusing reviews?)

  16. Well, I don’t know if it will actually get posted, but I’ve just written a review of the Shooter’s Bible that expresses deep disappointment at its failure to include any scripture.

    • Probably the most disappointed I have ever been was when I started reading a book called The Engineer’s Bible then realizing that it not only didn’t include any scripture but also had nothing to do with trains.

  17. That picture works so well with the sunglasses. It’s perfect.

    In general, I’d like to see more people learn about the abolitionists and freethinkers and feminists from Stanton’s time. There were all sorts of kick-ass people who have been kind of forgotten by history, and it’s just not right.

  18. Great idea. I “bought” the free Kindle version of this book and added a glowing review. Looks good. I tend not to read classics… a habit I acquired from University when keep up with current stuff started to become enough of a challenge without reading all that old historical stuff :) I notice that the average rating on the book has already gone to 3, so let’s all add our reviews.

  19. The only women praised in the Bile are essentially walking uteruses. And there is the other one who refuses to surrender her faith despite public vilification of her – what was her name again? Oh yes, Jezebel.

  20. They have several of her other books available for free as well — I had no idea Amazon had historical source texts for free! I’ll have to figure out how much room I have left on my Kindle.

  21. “As a Christian I believe that you cannot pick and choose pieces of the Bible to suit your purposes.”

    I loved this bit since picking and choosing from various bits of scripture to suit the church’s purposes is precisely how the bible as it exists today came about in the first place.

    • Nuh-uh!

      goddidit

  22. I think the comments actually make it a more appealing read to the atheist audience! Must be good, if it’s making some angry comments.

  23. Any man who has ever really loved his mother, daughter, wife, lover (or all four) should be a feminist along the lines so compellingly advocated in this book. Hopefully some of the religion-addled readers of this book will look up the references in an effort to refute the irrefutable points made by ECS and her committee only to find them confirmed by the Bible itself. I suspect the biggest factor in keeping religious dogma as influential as it still is, is that people don’t take the time to actually read the whole thing with an effort to actually try to understand what it is trying to say. The example of Dan Barker’s honest efforts at biblical scholarship as detailed in his book “Godless” is but one of many honest preachers who have seen the error in their faith in this way. I don’t believe people “lose” their faith. That implies that maybe it got stuck in the cushions on the couch and can be found again. Clearly that is not the case. Once you look at a “holy” book honestly, you will find that it just doesn’t have a coherent, believable story. This applies equally to all the world’s religions.

  24. I was disappointed to find out this wasn’t a review of a women’s devotional by a cyborg Elizabeth Cady Stanton from the future. Very disappointed.

  25. I’m someone who has recently taken to reading the Bible just to find out what it actually says (as opposed to what various know-it-alls claim.) If anyone one wants to try it, I suggest getting a good scholarly “study bible.” Although the comments will still have a particular religious slant, if they’re honest, they will discuss the ambiguities and the cultural contexts and (where relevant) what is known from other sources about the events, and you can simply filter out the religious spin.

    I downloaded the HTML version of the Women’s bible, and, assuming that that is, in fact, the whole thing, I can understand that some people might be a bit disappointed. If they were looking for a new translation, or a full bible with notes, or a rewriting or recasting of it in either traditional feminine (i.e., sexist) or in feminist terms, that isn’t what you get. What I saw is a collection of excerpts, along with commentary on them.

    The commentary looks to me to be pretty much like any other biblical commentary, except with a feminist slant. It also looks like some of it is responding to interpretations that are probably no longer current among biblical scholars.

    I have the impression that the people who call this blasphemous would probably be unhappy with _any_ scholarly studies of the bible. It sounds like they have the idea that the bible has an unabiguous message about What God Wants that should be clear to anyone, whereas even the most religiously orthodox commentators have to deal with lots of ambiguities and contradictions in the text.

    I don’t know biblical Hebrew or Aramaic, but I am told that gender, in particular, presents problems when translating. English requires gendered pronouns and nouns in situations where the original text doesn’t actually express gender.

    I can’t help wondering if there has ever been a group of feminist biblical scholars who have tried to do a new translation of the Bible from scratch, remaining as true to the original as any translation can ever be, but resolving the ambiguities in a more feminist direction. Even if you’re not a feminist, it would be very interesting.

  26. Don't mind me!

    I'm just testing this out.

    Here's a pic!

    image!

  27. Coincidentally, a similar thing happened to me. I also downloaded a copy of "The Woman's Bible" and noticed a couple of the reviews by people who had mistakenly thought it was a devotional Bible for women. It astounds me that people who have benefited from feminism, who have greater equal rights now due to feminism, attack some of the people and books that lead to those greater equal rights and defend a book that advocates horrible discrimination.
    I started reading The Woman's Bible, but I'm way at the beginning. I really look forward to reading the rest of it.
    -Ani Sharmin

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