Eve’s apple had her evicted from paradise, Atalanta’s saddled her with a husband she didn’t want, Aphrodite’s apple started the trojan war and Snow White’s apple sent her into a coma. Using these examples it might be fair to say that apples are not good for women, at least the folklore of apples is not good to women. In each of these tales the apple is the carriage of punishment, for curiosity, independence, vanity and beauty.
To be fair to the hapless fruit, until the 17th century the term apples could have applied to any number of fruits, so the apples we know today may not be to blame and I would not presume to give dietary advice anyway.
Eve’s apple, though worth mentioning, isn’t from the same tree. First and foremost Eve picked the apple herself and 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 think the benefits of eating forbidden fruit outweigh the drawbacks. However, if you were raised in an environment influenced by Judeo, Christian or Islamic ideas, the meaning of this fable isn’t open for interpretation; it is Eve’s weakness that is responsible for humanities suffering.
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; the wicked queen is punished for defending the crown that everyone says is the only one worth having.
The Judgement of Paris has a comparatively small mention in the Iliad, yet it’s significance is more deeply imprinted in our psyches than the war it is thought to have started. Paris, as an 18 year old boy/man choosing sex and beauty over wisdom or wealth is not surprising. What is surprising are the roles assigned to Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite and Hera. Zeus, by giving the power of this choice to Paris; the three competing goddesses for willingly submitting to this judgement. When we stop to think about it, it seems irrational and yet it is a judgement that shapes most of our lives today. The lengths women go to to compete for the prize of being the fairest, the eagerness of being awarded, the dread of coming in second or worst last. 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?