Little Tea Time Writings

Beth Brant’s „This is History“

This story may, at least to a westerner, seem like a story of native people about creation of the world, with the turtle representing the mother earth, the eagle representing the guiding and protecting spirit, Sky woman being the first person to walk earth and mother of human kind as she created the First Woman whom later gave birth to the two sons.

Compared to the traditions such as Christianity, it offers different account of the creation of human kind. In Christian tradition Adam was created first and from his rib Eve was created, in this story the Sky woman comes to earth because she is different from Sky people and too curious and she starts the human kind. According to this story the human nation was started with a woman and not a man, and this could also be taken as, say, a reference to modern culture.

One could say that it offers feministic point of view by putting women into the role of the first humans and creators and teachers of human kind, this could also be controversial, since, as was mentioned above, Christianity views this quite differently and Christianity is still a big part of the western society and its thinking, because for a long time it was passed from generation to generation and so it became part of the western culture and identity. In this sense this story could be seen as quite revolutionary, although one cannot say whether a native nation could have a similar story, since quite a lot of human communities were and still are  quite patriarchal.

But there is also a passage that could be described as erotic or at the least having erotic or homosexual themes, it is the passage where the Sky woman and First woman create love and passion (Brant,24). Although there are no openly sexual images in the story, this could be taken as a sign that there might be a romantic or sexual relationship between the women and there definitely seems to be a kind of acceptance towards this kind of relationship, almost as though the story is meant to show us that love in different forms is still part of human kind. This is another aspect in which the story is quite revolutionary, because it offers a view of creation of world that involves a gay couple, or rather lesbian couple and could be taken as part of queer literature. Something like this could again be controversial for western people because, as mentioned above, Christianity is part of western culture and it refuses this kind of relationship.

Another controversial moment is the birth of two sons, they are the first male characters and first male humans, but from the story one cannot be sure if their birth is good thing since one son will be good and will worship and pray to the spirits and the other will be bad and will create things that they do not know yet, we can only argue whether guns are meant by these things or whether it is supposed to be hate or something else that could be seen as threatening. But the end again brings back a little bit of Biblical or Christian images because even in bible there were two sons, brothers, Abel who is seen as the good one and Cain who is seen as the bad one for killing his brother out of jealousy. If we make this connection then the things that the creatures did not know at that time could well be murder or even jealousy.

The end could again connect the story to feminism since those who began the human kind were women and throughout the story one could say that they are viewed as good people, they worship the spirits, take care of the animals and learn from them but then are the sons, first male humans and at least one of them is seen as threatening. If the one son means threat and is supposed to created thing for which they do not know names then maybe those things might also mean that women and men will not be equal.

In many aspects the story is revolutionary and even controversial; in some aspects it shows us not only different approach to history of human kind but also different maybe more open view on sexuality and feminism.


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