Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Satanic Verses

Coming at #1 on a website I just googled is Countess Elizabeth Bathory, some notorious serial-killer from Hungary. Never heard of her. Shoot, I taught a course in Holocaust literature a dozen years ago, read a shelf of books, but never once heard of Irma Grese (above) or Ilse Koch, two horrifying brutal female guards at the prison camps at Belsen and Buchenwald; they came in within the top ten also--the top ten of evil women.

I got to thinking yesterday about evil women--I mean, really evil women--because a line from Ruth Suckow's "Memoir" made me laugh. When she was a girl, little Ruthie and her friend were talking about real characters, including, of course, Bible characters, a pastime that came easily to Suckow, the daughter of a Congregationalist minister. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she said something to her little friend about "Mrs. Satan."

Never in my life had I even considered that there might be such a character, I suppose because Satan is of no clear gender, which is not to say he is not male. I can't even begin to think of Satan as female, nor can I begin to imagine any "Mrs. Satan."

All of which made me put the book down and got me thinking about really bad women. Jezebel came to mind immediately, sidekick of the most wicked of the wicked kings of Israel, Ahab. But what I remember best about her is the dogs that lapped up her death. Nobody names their daughter "Jezebel"--well, never say never; but no one in his or her right mind names their daughter Jezebel.

And then Lady Macbeth, the hand-wringer, who manipulated her husband into murder, then couldn't redeem herself or bask in the largesse their heinous acts gained for them. Still, all great actresses want to play the bloody Lady.

But that's about it, and neither are anywhere near Satanic, really. So I went to the internet, found a website for top ten evil women, and quickly noticed the only one I knew on the list was Mary, Queen of Scots, who did in countless Protestants. Hmmm. Not bad.

The fact is, it's impossible for me to think of some female as "Mrs. Satan," maybe because Satan himself is something else altogether, not human, not even gigantically human.

Nevertheless, he is male, at least in my mind. While some feminists (and others) might be fond of substituting the female "she" in reference to God Almighty, I don't think I've ever heard the equality argument for the Devil; no one refers to him as her. And, to coin a phrase, that's not fair. Women can be diabolical, just not that diabolical, I guess; Satanic levels of evil are reserved for men.

Anyway, little Ruthie Suckow was talking with her friend about Mrs. Satan, her eyes, I'm sure, full round. And here, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story. "When describing this new character--with embellishments--to the other little girl, for the first and only time I suffered the terrible discgrace of being sent home."

End of story. Maybe, like Ruthie, I too have spent too much time with Mrs. Satan.


Satchel Pooch said...

Ack! Mary, Queen of Scots is NOT Bloody Mary! That would be Mary I of England (1516-1558), daughter of Henry VIII and half-sister to Elizabeth I, who succeeded her. Mary I was indeed responsible for burning as many as 300 Protestants at the stake.

Mary I of Scotland (1542-1587), commonly known as Mary, Queen of Scots, was also a Catholic but was hardly ever in power long enough to light a candle, let alone a pyre.

J. C. Schaap said...

Oops! If I had a historian's license, it would be revoked.

Satchel Pooch said...

Naw, you'd probably be let off with a warning. :-) By the way, "Mrs. Satan" made me laugh.