In “What is the Woman’s Desire?” By Susan Foh, the question about the meaning of the word “desire” is answered:
“What Young considers an obviously impossible meaning for “desire,” the meaning which “desire” has in the same syntactical setting only 15 verses away, is not impossible. The woman has the same sort of desire for her husband that sin has for Cain, a desire to possess or control him. This desire disputes the headship of the husband. As the Lord tells Cain what he should do, i.e., master or rule sin, the Lord also states what the husband should do, rule over his wife. The words of the Lord in Genesis 3:16b, as in the case of the battle between sin and Cain, do not determine the victor of the conflict between husband and wife.
These words mark the beginning of the battle of the sexes. As a result of the fall, man no longer rules easily; he must fight for his headship. Sin has corrupted both the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband. The woman’s desire is to control her husband (to usurp his divinely appointed headship, and he must master her, if he can. So the rule of love founded in paradise is replaced by struggle, tyranny and domination.
Experience corroborates this interpretation of God’s judgment on the woman. If the words “and he shall rule over you” in Genesis 3:16b are understood in the indicative, then they are not true. As Cain did not rule over sin (Genesis 4: 7b ), so not every husband rules his wife, and wives have desires contrary to their husbands’ and often have no desire (sexual or psychological) for their husbands.
As we have stated earlier on the basis of context, the woman’s desire does not contribute to the husband’s rule; the opposite is the case. The two clauses, “and your desire to control shall be to your husband” and “but he should master you,” are antithetical. The presence of the personal pronoun xvh (htx in Gen. 4:7) supports this understanding of the relationship of the two clauses. ”
Before Foh pioneered this meaning for the word desire in 1975; the main school of thought was that ‘desire’ referred to a woman’s sexual desire for her husband; though Calvin thought that it meant that a woman will desire what her husband desires and will have no desires for herself. Some thought that women will be plagued with desire itself bordering on a disease. What wasn’t up for debate was that whatever it meant, men had to rule over women as a result of desire.
So if you believe that a man is the head of his family, that the curse on women was to be in rebellion against her husband’s headship because her desire was to be contrary to his headship and the man would rule over his wife, your Biblical belief is somewhat older than I am. Ain’t that something?