Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gilgamesh, Book 1 Moodle

Shamhat is even less than a prostitute; she is not even paid or recognized in any way. She is simply EXPECTED to allow herself to be used for men's sexual pleasure, because it is just a thing she is "supposed" to do according to the rules of her society. She is described as sort of a prostitute for religion -- she's supposed to give herself up as a service to the gods -- again, simply because she's supposed to, not for any reasons for HERSELF. She is serving as Enkidu's gateway into the human, or civilized, world; the relationship has absolutely nothing to do with her, just what she means to Enkidu. She is called "one of the priestesses who give their bodies up to any man, in honor of the goddess" (77). I fail to see how something so degrading can be in "honor" of any FEMALE. Also, in the description she gives of Uruk, she speaks of "the lovely priestesses standing before the temple of Ishtar, chatting and laughing, flushed with sexual joy, and ready to serve men's pleasure" (81). This shows that the society is clearly about hedonism for men, and that even the women themselves have been taught to feel that they exist for men's pleasure.

Another unrelated thing I found interesting was that after having sex, Enkidu "knew things now that an animal can't know" (79). I thought it was strange that they were basically saying that sexuality is a trait specific to human beings, when it seems to be in fact one of the most animalistic things about humans. However, they could be really talking about the "longing for a true friend" (80) that he feels when he sees another human, the realization that he wants human companionship.


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