One symbol that is damaging to women is snakes as a symbol of female sexuality because of snakes association with sin. This symbol is one that permeates throughout society and has its roots in the bible. The symbol has its origin in the story of Adam and Eve is where the devil in the form of a snake tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. In the modern-day context, however, this association can perpetuate the cycle of subconsciously slut shaming because female sexuality is associated with snakes, and therefore sin, while male sexuality is not. Never do you see a man’s sexuality degradingly depicted with a snake.
Associating snakes with female sexuality is seen throughout works of art. Some artists, such as Kara Walker, use this symbol in their art as a critique and to embrace female sexuality. Walker portrays a woman intertwined with a snake while she participates in self-penetration. This particular artist turns the symbol that many may find degrading into a powerful image of female sexuality. Walker is critiquing this symbol and the negative connotation of expressive self-sufficient female sexuality by embracing the degeneration. She embraces this stereotype and makes it the forefront of her painting, which many may find graphic. By making a detailed and expressive image she is desolating the stereotype and embracing female sexuality.
The association of female sexuality with snakes can perpetuate the stigma that a woman’s sexuality, whether it be promiscuous or monogamous, is sinful. Woman’s sexuality, both women who are cis and trans, should be celebrated instead of viewed as somewhat sinful or scandalous. Perhaps the decreased use of symbols such as snakes would help end the cycle that views sexual activities of woman as sinful or slutty while men doing those same acts are simply men and those actions go unquestioned.