It’s that apple again

Episode II of hypocrisy and misogyny in…well, you name the time period. This is using the Cranach painting of the Judgement of Paris for the NaPoWriMo prompt.



Later, she says, looking flirtatiously at the painter,

your interpretation will be debunked.

You painted us, the three harlots of antiquity,

Hera, Athena and me, Aphrodite,

exposing our charms,

bribing a harmless shepherd god with promises of power and wealth.

You made us shameless whores,

but you stripped us naked and you revelled in it.

They say I was the one who offered him Helen

in exchange for the apple, the prize,

(funny how that apple crops up

wherever women and their wiles are at work)

but it was you, men like you, painter,

imbued with the self-righteous sanctity of Christian teachings,

and like the paragons of manhood idolised by warlike primitives,

who made the world where women were judged for their beauty

and nothing more, and could be offered as prizes.

You made the world where a wife could be stolen,

(from the husband foisted on her in the first place)

given to another man, then blamed for the war to get her back.

Because she was beautiful.

Because you stripped us all naked

and made us nothing better than wet dreams of concupiscent child-bearers.

Later, she says, one day, women will turn around,

(like me, now, go on, look)

and they will tell you and all the lecherous contemptuous men

who peep and touch, promise monts et merveilles

and leave you with the kids—

just kiss my ass.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

78 thoughts on “It’s that apple again”

    1. 🙂 In this painting it’s Paris lying there asleep (in his armour) and having to be woken up that I find surreal. Who’s the one with the beard and the feather skirt?
      There must be some symbolism in that painting, more subtle than what it looks like

      1. Ha ha! No, I think the horse is disguised as a tree, also getting an eyeful of the naked women. There’s another version of the painting with the same horse but it’s out in front minus disguise posing with the women in fact (?). Cranach must have had strange ideas about more than anatomy!
        If you look at the unknown with the feather skirt, you see what looks like a peacock’s tail spread out behind his head. He’s woken up Paris who seems to be asking: Where am I?

      2. I have to say, the horse seems to have the most “with it” expression in the other version. 🙂 What is that peacock thing? Wow–so bizarre!

  1. “just kiss my ass.” – wow! Why so angry? I agree 100% with what you say. Always wondered if epics were written by women how males would have been depicted.

    1. Methinks, if an antique world shaped by women could have existed, there wouldn’t have been epics. Those men who figure in epic stories and poems would have stayed at home, helped bring up their own children and mend the roof, bring in the harvest etc etc

      1. 😂😂😂My wife resents that she has to work for me to indulge in stuff that I like. Luckily for her, I don’t have any expensive habits (she compensates for my non-materialistic view of life) 😂

      2. I was working till couple of years back and realized that if we were not rich after nearly four decades of work, not going to be in the next ten years. Chances were that I would have gone straight to the crematorium from work. At least now we have fresh cooked dinners on weekdays than when both of us were working. And writing allows me to keep my mouth shut😂

      3. It sounds like a very sensible and enriching arrangement. We do what is best at the time, regardless of social mores and expectations. Good for both of you 🙂

      4. Maybe the women would have grand stories to tell of their own. And the view of past would have been so much richer (Notice how many of the Canterbury Tales included women – women in a positive light -All have right to write!)

      5. There were some trades open to women in the Middle Ages but they were very restricted and policed. Inheritance was the problem. Women couldn’t dispose of their property as they wanted, even supposing they had any. The Church hated working women and especially independent women. Not many married women were burned at the stake…

      6. Yep – respect and independence was difficult and only achieved by few…usually carrying weapons and strong wills
        Some cultures still. In some, when the father travels, the oldest son assumes control of the household ..even if only 10 or so…which causes difficulties for schools who are trying to have student conferences with parents about a child having problems…and the “child” shows up as head of household – with mom walking several paces behind..Honestly, lady, he’s short, you can take him (but you’d have to flee, change appearance and live in fear the rest of your life)
        Really not funny.
        Change is slow, but it happens

      7. No, it isn’t funny. There is a case for respecting cultural differences, it’s what makes society colourful and interesting. But there is such a thing as a dominant ethos, like republican democratic values, equality and all that, and you can’t have one lot deciding they don’t like the equality part, or the democratic part. There has to be some kind of a yardstick or anything goes.

      8. There’s a lot of fine words but the reality is darker. Women don’t protest enough either, not about the right things. The right to have a bum as big as Beyoncé’s etc etc is NOT feminism.

      9. That’s right. As an Egyptian activist for human rights (male) said when asked what a change in regime would mean for women’s rights: Why do you think the Egyptian male is going to suddenly change his attitude towards women because the leadership changes? Why would men give an inch to women? What’s in it for them? Nothing. There will be no voluntary change.

      10. We’ve had honor killings of daughters here. One father escaped to Chicago and the community there won’t give him up. Another involved the father, sons, mother and sister…and they all staunchly say “Your laws do not apply to us. We have religious freedom” Trials in progress ( and also for their medicare fraud operation)
        Beyonce ( who we remember when she was just little, belting out songs, and looked different) on stage assumes the persona “Sancha Fierce” – it’s all about money. Sex sells – and the sad thing is her female fans buy into that image and pattern after her.
        Tough battle. Has to be a balance between harpy and obedient lesser creature.
        Society should emphasize strong, self confident, self reliant individuals – sex identity should be as important as maybe hair color or number of toes.
        Nothing is easy., So many manipulate for their own purposes. Too many only want personal power – not progress

      11. Yes to all of that. As the child of immigrants who just kept their heads down and made their schools the best and got their children ahead by beating the English on their home pitch, AND facing discrimination which was not prescribed by law as we were the wrong colour—white—I am sick to the teeth of hearing these people complaining. They have left countries with one culture, been accepted into another and they won’t abide by the rules. They shout civil liberties, religious freedom, the right to be bigoted intolerant obscurantist misogynists. Yet woolly-minded do-gooders encourage them to hold out for their rights to be different, even when it means breaking the law. Just because you excise your daughters back home doesn’t mean you can do it here! Progress means stamping out obscurantism not encouraging it! Sorry, but I get cross.

      12. We had a kid from a youth programme (for delinquents basically) who went on a rampage and among other damage tried to kick our door in. The group leader apologised and we suggested it was maybe up to the lad who did the damage to apologise. So they brought him round, coached him on what to say which was basically yes, I did kick in your door and busted the lock but I had a broken childhood so it isn’t my fault if I misbehave. If you’re looking for the guilty party, blame society. Right.

      1. An old quote comes to my mind…”pen is mightier than the sword.”
        While many cultures still treat women as depicted in this painting, they have come a long way and the path may be thorny ahead, nothing is going to stop them now.

      2. I hope you’re right, Balroop. If only we could get rid of the military with their guns and the old men with their beards, we might stand a chance.

    1. It’s about time we threw off the blinkers and looked ourselves firmly in the eye. Honesty and reality is what we’re sadly lacking, still away with the fairies, and the old men with beards ruling the roost from their cloudy cuckoo land.

      1. Are you an American? If so, I’d like to nominate you for POTUS. If not…. well, I’m nominating you anyway. 😊

      2. No, I’m not 🙂 But there are several poets of the right nationality I exchange with who would do the job very well. Nobody would vote for me anyway, Barry. Politics is about compromise, horse trading. I don’t compromise. I’d just get a bullet.

    1. It’s funny how the end result is much the same for the Ancient Greeks and the Christians. Both mythologies depend on an overwhelming patriarchy, warlike aggressive menfolk and completely subservient womenfolk.

  2. Yes, yes — this is the kind of Ekphrasis we need to lay bare the truths behind much of our art and mythology. These patriarchal renderings have controlled the narrative for long. It’s poems like these as well as the instances in modern popular fiction, where the womxn are reclaiming their spaces by being the teller of their own mythical tales, which I find so significant today. These myths and legends are a part of our pop culture lexicon as well as a part of academic studies, in that context, I admire the emergence of womxn’s perspectives and narratives.
    I was actually inspired for the prompt by the retelling and narration of the stories of Draupadi and Sita (Hindu mythical texts) in our times. It certainly breaks the core of traditional archetypes and godly wonders by pointing out how problematic they were and still are.

    1. They are ALL problematic, Anmol. Every single major religion is based on patriarchy. Women figure in a religion when it has a pantheon of gods but they always play second fiddle to some super male god. In the monotheistic religions, women are relegated to the cleaners and bottom-wipers. They have to be either mothers, wives or faceless, pure (virginal) nun type figures. I don’t see how societies can ever advance in human and equal rights if they persist in giving credence to these arbitrary superstitious stories written by men to keep their world exactly as it suits them. Organised, big scale religion is more than brainwashing it’s dangerous divisive indoctrination.

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