The apple Eve ate had her evicted from Paradise. Atalanta ate an apple that saddled her with a husband she didn’t want. Aphrodite’s appetite for an apple caused the Trojan war; and Snow White’s apple sent her into a coma. It might be fair to say that apples are not good for women. The apple is the carriage of punishment, for curiosity, independence, vanity and beauty in each of these tales. The apple, as we know it today may not be to blame, it may have been a tomato, or a pomegranate (I would not presume to give dietary advice anyway.)

To be fair to the hapless fruit, until the 17th century the term ‘apple’ could have applied to any number of fruits.

May Rivers, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Eve’s apple, though worth mentioning, isn’t from the same tree. First and foremost Eve picked the apple herself, and she had fair warning that there would be consequences. Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t think she did anything wrong. I would have had the apple off the tree even without the serpents encouragement; I believe the benefits of eating forbidden fruit far outweigh the drawbacks. However, if you were raised in an environment influenced by Judeo, Christian, or even Islamic ideas, the meaning of this fable isn’t open for interpretation; it is Eve’s weakness that is responsible for the suffering of mankind.

The Fall of Man, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Marianne Stokes, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Snow White was punished because a mirror told the queen, her stepmother, that she was no longer the most beautiful, she had been usurped by Snow White. As with Eris’ apple of discord, it is not enough to beautiful, one must be the most beautiful to be considered to have any beauty at all. This dynamic itself is toxic, it is no wonder Snow White almost chokes to death on it. Of course her Paris comes along in the form of the prince and restores her to her rightful place as the most beautiful; and the wicked queen is punished for defending the crown that everyone says is the only one worth having.

The Judgment of Paris has a comparatively small mention in the Iliad, yet its significance is more deeply imprinted in our psyches than the war it is thought to have started.

Naples National Archaeological Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Paris, as an 18 year old boy/man choosing sex and beauty over wisdom or wealth is not surprising.The roles assigned to Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite and Hera are surprising. Zeus, by giving the power of this choice to Paris; and the three competing goddesses for willingly submitting to this judgment. It seems irrational that the judgment of Paris shapes our lives today. It is embedded in the lengths that women go to be beautiful; to complete for being the fairest. It is in the eagerness of being awarded the apple, and the dread of coming in second or worst, last. It is what men will do to possess the prettiest girl; and in the multi-billion dollar economy that hinges on our complicity.

What if we were not subject to objectification? What if we were beholders, active viewers instead of the view? What if we don’t want the goddam apple?



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