The most obvious theme in Daughters of Copper Woman by Anne Cameron is the idea of life and creation from women and the empowerment that comes from being a woman, but what l found to be interesting in that is how diﬀerent these ﬁrst few stories are from what l learned growing up in a conservative, Sephardic-Jewish household. The very first story, the creation of Copper Woman, The Creator is never announced as man or woman. Growing up going to Jewish day school, we were always taught that even though God had no gender, the scripts would always write down “He” and discussions would always address God as a man, referencing that historically, man is power and righteousness and enlightenment.
[n the story of Adam and Eve, man came ﬁrst, giving males a sense of importance in society. ln Daughters of Copper Woman, however, there was trial and error of creating the ﬁrst woman. When these women failed to follow instruction and care for themselves, mankind didn’t suffer and there wasn’t an ultimate punishment.
Stick Child, Grass Child, and Mud Child aren’t punished for the rest of their lives because of their mistakes, they passed on because there were errors in the was they were made and from that came Copper Woman, who ended up uperfect” or at least sufﬁcient enough to continue to create the rest of humankind. Then comes Snot Boy. We now know that water is a strong suggestion toward femininity, symbolizing the womb.
Even in Greek Mythology various female water spirits, nymphs, mermaids and Goddesses thrive in water or use water as sources for power and spirit. Although Snot Boy doesn’t come from water, the mucus of Copper Woman, the mussel shell, the horse clam, the sea urchin shell, the crab shell, the sea lion fur, are all water related items. This established the importance of woman and femininity in everything and everyone that is created in the world, because even masculinity was made for the essentials of what we see in femininity. From Snot Boy and Copper Woman first came Mowita. Even with Snot Boy there, Copper Woman was lonely and wasn’t able to find a true connection until a daughter was born.
“And Copper Woman looked at her daughter and felt the loneliness diminish until it was no longer than a small round pebble on the beach”. When Copper Woman gives birth to a son, there isn’t as much attention given to that relationship. The bond between the mother and daughter, especially the ﬁrst born, is something that isn’t felt or attended to again. This particular moment strikes me because of female artists I admire that either work with their mothers in collaborations or make work about mother-daughter dynamics. Although I don’t have any sort of close-ness with my own mother, this is something that I always tend to consider when making my own work that is having to do with femininity and womanhood. Right after is “Qolus the Changeable”. In these stories, man isn’t necessarily considered “complete”. Copper Woman’s son improve from the way Snot Boy is, however they never reach the level of “whole-ness” that women hold.
Going back to the Adam and Eve story, Eve is the one that lacked a sense of justice and intelligence. She was the one that was easily temped and the punishments mostly effected her. This differs from the understanding of what women are capable of in Daughters of Copper Woman. When Qolus transforms into Mah Teg Yelah, the ﬁrst man, he is only complete because he was originally a woman. He is not called a boy, but a man. Mah Teg Yelag was not totally happy as a man. Even as Mah Teg Yelag was fulﬁlling all of his duties, he was not happy and eventually became Qolus again. The Women’s Society is something unheard of from what I grew up learning, religiously. The society was open to all types of women, and the well being of every member was the responsibility of every member. Something that was notable to me was that things only went wrong when strange men showed up.
“Strange men arrived in dugouts with sails, dugouts that smelled terrible…the world turned upside down”. We often see blame being put on women for why things will often go wrong. Where there is a functioning society and then a woman will commit a sin or fail at a task so that there is no longer peace. Here it is evident that women were already in peace, but these men, who clearly have never been in interaction with women, are the ones destroying society. These men claimed the Society of Women as a society of witches. The freeness that the women in the society is something I was never taught. That breasts are not sexual organs and a body is not something shameful and that a menstrual cycle is something beautiful and sacred and spiritual. These women were teaching the young girls this, but man, now a reference to the evil in society, are teaching young girls to feel shame about their bodies and were considered sick beings.
The boys were taught that women were ﬁlthy, sinful beings and that they were the reason a man would go towards sin. Women were no longer taught self-love. The roles in everything I learned growing up are ﬂipped, but the end result of how women are viewed are very similar to what I had always been taught. There is always a need to rejuvenate these teachings and rebuild whatever is lost when we teach women to self-hate and men to continue embedding these ideas. “Women who must be respected. at all times respected. Women who Know that whish we must try to learn again. Women who provide a nucleus on which we must build again, women who will share with us if we ask them. Women ho love us”.