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Did the Patriarchy Steal Friday the 13th From Women?

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Sorta transcript:

Last Friday was Friday the 13th, meaning that dark forces from distant universes compelled people to be a bunch of fucking idiots. This also happens during full moons and superbowls.

I read a particularly charming example on Broadly, the subsection of Vice dedicated to women-people, who would otherwise not read Vice because it hurts their women-people brains. The article in question was titled “How the Patriarchy Stole Friday the 13th from Women and Made It Evil” so I’m going to need all of you to take a moment to prepare yourselves for the utter bullshit that is to follow.

The post’s thesis is, conveniently, it’s first sentence: “Before Friday the 13th became associated with bad luck and the horror movie franchise that refuses to die, it used to be considered a powerful day for celebrating feminine energy.” For evidence, Broadly contributor Kimberly Lawson reaches out to expert historians who have extensively studied the history of women’s rights and superstitious practices.

Ha ha, just kidding! Lawson interviewed two people:  Gina Spriggs, “a North Carolina-based futurist and holistic intuitive,” and Tanaaz Chubb, “an LA-based intuitive.” Wow, two intuitives in one article! For those who don’t know what an intuitive is, it’s an old-school psychic fraud with a fancy name that lets the person in question charge substantially more than the $10-a-pop palm reader on the corner.

The “intuitives” tell a remarkably gullible Lawson that before Christianity, Friday the 13th was considered a day to honor the “Divine Feminine.” But once Jesus had a party with 13 people and then got himself murdered the next day, a Friday, everyone thinks Friday the 13th is evil. That’s a popular rendition of how Friday the 13th got its reputation, though it’s not necessarily true. Friday has long been seen as an unlucky day in Western cultures, and 13 as an unlucky number. So they’re also just two evil tastes that taste evil together.

Friday the 13th wasn’t even a thing until the late 19th century, a long long time after patriarchal Christianity was born. And no, prior to that it was not considered a day to celebrate how magical and mysterious women are, despite the intuitives’ evidence-less claim that it was. In fact, prior to Christianity there wasn’t much of a standardized calendar at all — even the Greeks had a number of different calendars they all used concurrently, some of which had no names for the months, let alone the days. Most of them were purely numerical, meaning the idea of a Friday the 13th would have been completely foreign to them.

The intuitives claim Friday the 13th was a “Day of the Goddess” was because women on average have 13 menstrual cycles each year, which may be true but doesn’t actually describe why Friday would be super important. If anything, it should be Monday, the day of the Moon, right?

Speaking of the moon, my favorite quote from the article is this one, spoken by Spriggs. She says that 13 “is also the number, too, of annual cycles of the moon—viewed by earth-based religions as ‘female.’”

“Earth-based religions” you guys. Earth-based. Neptune-based religions see the Earth’s moon as more of a dude, while Jupiter-based religions don’t even recognize it as a valid person with an identifiable sex.

The intuitives also take time to long for the good old days when women’s periods were worshipped. It’s true that some cultures thought of menstruation as magical and powerful, but that wasn’t always exactly a good thing, since it could result in women being accused of witchcraft and hanged, or in women being relegated to shame huts for a few days every month. And that’s still happening today, as evidenced by the teenaged Nepalese girl who died in a menstruation hut just this past week.

The insipid article ends with the intuitives urging women to celebrate Friday the 13th by buying pink shit, like pink underwear and flowers and power tools I guess. This, too, is completely inane considering that the idea that pink is for women is a concept less than a 100 years old and has been repeatedly used in our patriarchal culture as a way to code things as weaker or for women.

In conclusion, fuck all that bullshit. Continue to celebrate Friday the 13th the way it was intended: by making fun of dummies who think things are unlucky that day, and by watching terrible horror films. Hey, there’s lots of blood in those things, right? And blood is totally feminine. It’s even pink! -Ish. It counts.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. 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+.

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6 Comments

  1. January 18, 2017 at 7:41 am —

    Frustrates the heck out of me when I see a link to a site like this, which subscribes to the idea of, “Let us put up what ever bloody BS we want, then force everyone to comment on it some place else, because.. why would anyone, at all, even historians, or doctors, or anyone else, for example, ever *want* to comment on the insipid nonsense we just posted!” And, even sadder, its sometimes liberal sites doing it…. Sigh…

    • January 18, 2017 at 5:27 pm —

      It’s not just that, but they have a whole Lewis Henry Morgan-style Universal Cultural History when we only really have evidence of the transition from polytheism to monotheism (i.e., El, Baal, and Yahweh became one god, while other gods were removed from the pantheon).

      • January 19, 2017 at 7:28 am —

        You forgot Chemosh in that list. One of the descriptions I read basically had the great god of peace, Yahweh, basically tricking his two brothers, then killing them, having had the military might to do so, which the money man, Baal, and the agriculturalist Chemosh, didn’t, then turning around and committing patricide, by going after El, their father, once he had the other’s kingdoms.

        But, yeah, I get a good laugh, all the time, out of the silly, “All gods are really one god, even the ones that appose each other (or have totally contradictory theological views), hate each others guts, or even murdered each other.”, which some people seem to embrace.

        • January 19, 2017 at 6:40 pm —

          Yeah, but I was referring more to the “monotheistic goddess becomes polytheism becomes monotheistic god” version of history. Of course, what mythological beings do isn’t the same as what real people are allowed to do. (If they were, every trickster figure ever would indicate total anarchy.)

          Another one I’ve heard a lot from radical centrists is that women have a special mind for business. This is why microloans are specific to women. You know, where they loan you $5 or $10 to start a business. (You may note that you probably need at least four zeros after those figures to start a business.) The real-world effect is basically payday lending goes international; most microloans are used to buy food or clothing or fuel, things that, if you need money for them, you need charity, not a loan. But because they tie it to women, they can pretend it’s feminist.

  2. January 18, 2017 at 8:18 am —

    When I saw the title to this article I was like, “What? From SKEPTICS?!!!?” Then I read it and I was like, “Oh…”

    :-)

  3. January 18, 2017 at 9:45 am —

    To be fair, Scientology does claim to have off-world origins. Not sure of Xenu’s position regarding the gender of the moon, however.

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