2. They do not celebrate the first blood of those who will bear life, nor do they return it to the earth. They have set aside the Opening, which is the sacred business of women, and permit men to display their daughters’ bloody sheets, as though even the pettiest baal would require such a degradation in tribute.
Leah speaks these lines in Part Two, Chapter Five, as she explains to Dinah why Rebecca has cast out her cousin Tabea. The women of her family have always honored the goddess Innana and her gift of monthly blood. When each young girl becomes part of their circle, they induct her with a ritual to give her blood back to the earth and the goddess by opening her womb (breaking her hymen). In this way, a girl’s “first blood” belongs to the female goddess Innana, rather than to the man who first sleeps with her. The women of Tabea’s family are from Canaan, where women are expected to prove their virginity and worth with the bloody sheets from their wedding night. By displaying the bloody sheets, the husband validates his “purchase” of a bride. The Canaanite custom gives the power of a woman’s blood to her husband. Diamant sets up an archetype in which women of a pre-modern age refuse to validate their worth by giving their virginity to their husbands and instead claim power over their own bodies. This quote is important because it helps Dinah realize how lucky she is to be a part of the traditions of the women of her family. Diamant has stated that she wrote novel to empower the female characters of the Bible. She endows them with this power by making women claim their virginity as part of this sacred women’s ritual, rather than giving it to their husbands on the wedding night.