buttered gender rolls

What is the origin and significance of the two circular gender symbols (downward cross for women and upward arrow for men)?

My SAWAG (Smart-Asses WAG) is one is a arrow, the other a target.

They are the astrological signs for Mars and Venus.

The female or Venus sign has always reminded me of an ankh. Is that the origin?

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Wait, let me clarify (in case that was confusing), I mean is the female symbol patterned after or meant to resemble the ankh?

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

The Ankh is a symbol of regeneration and long life. The Venus symbol is more along the lines of fertility and new life. The Egyption counterpart of this concept is the goddess Isis whose symbol is that of a disk set inside of a pair of cow horns. I don’t recall there being much connection between Isis and the Ankh symbol.

I read that the Venus symbol comes from the shape of the mirrors the Greeks/Romans used; like one of our handheld mirrors, but with a crossbar. She was the goddess of love/beauty, so a mirror was her symbol. The Mars symbol was supposed to be a spear/shield.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

Gaudere is correct. Mirror for vanity, and Arrow/Sheild for strength and power. Then there’s the Prince symbol (yes, I called him price. Let him sue me.) which is kinda half/half. Go figure.

That is a funny coincidence that it should bear so close a resemblence to an ankh. I always assumed (being more into Egyptian mythology than Greek) that the resemblence was intentional: women = life.

I wonder if anyone has ever posed that the ankh could also be based on a mirror? The only two hypotheses that I’m familiar with are: 1.) it’s meant to resemble a sandle strap, with the loop at the top going around the ankle, the cross-bar going around the foot, and the long bar going down the top of the foot between the toes, or 2.) the top loop represents the female genitalia, and the cross represents the male genitalia because sex = life.

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

I think it is possible that the shape of the mirror came from the ankh. There may have been some cultural exchange. Maybe Eqyptian mirrors were shaped like ankhs too? I will try to find out more.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

This is from memory, so don’t jump all over me if I’m wrong.

I think the Ankh as a symbol was taken from the letter in the Hebrew alphabet that later evolved into the Greek letter Tau.

if sex = life, i must be dead.

my theory was always that the female symbol seems more permanent, like something firmly planted into the ground, and the male symbol’s upward arrow denoted mobility and action. these would correspond, i thought, to the traditional (note that i say “traditional,” i’m presenting this neutrally and expressing no opinion) roles of woman as being more domestic and men going out and hunting, conquering, and (pardon the pun) building things. i suppose this loosely fits into the venus and mars roles described above.

i do find it interesting that they opted for beauty as opposed to fertility for the quintessential female goddess. i know there was a fertility goddess in greek mythology (ceres or demeter, maybe; it’s been a while). there must have been a counterpart in the roman pantheon.

sorry, there was no pun there. “building” was originally “erecting,” but i wasn’t feeling quite as mischievous as i thought.

Yes, the ankh was originally a sandal strap. How it came to be the symbol for life, I have no idea.

Nevermind. I just tried to confirm that theory, and looking at the Greek and Hebrew letters (tau and taw) that theory makes no sense.


But you had to post something anyway, didn’t you, PB. Very noble.

Sex = Life in that, without sex, no new life is created. And of course the fundamentalist sites, like CAP alert, cling on to the genitalia theory as proof how pagan and satanic the Egyptians were, which really ruffles my feathers. For pity’s sake, I know they’re portrayed as the heavies in the OT, but if Joseph’s brothers had just thought a little more carefully before tossing him in a pit and selling him into slavery, the whole Jews enslaved by the Egypitans, plagues, exodus, wandering the desert for 40 years incident could have been avoided :wink:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Huh? Is that a flame?

When I was at an exhibit of Egyptian artifacts last year, I noticed one of the goddess statues holding an ankh in each hand. Remember that the ankh is an almond shaped loop with a bar extending down and a cross-bar. The goddess statue was holding the ankh with the top of the loop in her hand and the ankh extended to between her knee and ankle, which would discredit both the mirror and the sandle strap theory to me. My theory from this statue is that the ankh was originally some type of seed drill and became associated with life from the advantages that agriculture gave to the Egyptians.

I dunno… just because it’s patterned after a sandal strap or mirror doesn’t mean it couldn’t come in all sizes or be carried by the top loop.

BTW, CAP Alert does have a page of symbols to be wary of, including the ankh, the yin yang, the eye of Horus, abracadabra, and the pyramid with the eye that’s on the back of $1.00 bills, all with appropriately satanic descriptions of their uses and “powers.” It’s disgustipating.

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy