Obviously, many snakes and spiders are highly venomous and potentially could give humans fatal bites. To what extent are these fears evolutionary and cultural constructs?
Is it possible that the fear of these particular animals has been heightened by not only their cultural construction but also the heigtened fear of death in many modern/industrial Western cultures?
A little while back, lisa @ Sociological Images made a post on the use of arachnids and spiders in safer sex PSAs to represent sexually transmitted infections.Interestingly, the snake--a mythologically feminine animal--here is associated with men (for obvious reasons). The spider, of course, is often associated with women (think about the Greek myth of the spider as well as other Spider woman myths around the world) as well as the film noir notion of the black widow who lures in men with her sexuality and murders them.
While the spider is an acknowledgement of female sexual agency, the symbolism represents it in a fatal way in which the archetypes of womb and tomb are resurrected in our conciousnesses. Women's sexuality (at least in many Western cultures) has thus been associated not only with procreation but also with the destruction of life--as is "the animal" or animality. Thus, the intersections between sexuality, women, animality, and mortality.
Are these intersections with mortality partially responsible for the loathing of women, sexuality, and animality in Western history?
ASLO: See more STI PSAs from Europe and the linking of sexuality to (male/phallic) violence: 1, 2
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