A weekend away; and, more thoughts on that feminism and religion post

I have a very short, rather impromptu weekend away planned with daughter Alison. We are headed back over to the coast and a nifty little cabin on Saturday. I really wanted to plan an entire family outing to this little beach community, but coordinating that, along with the senile cat who can’t be left alone, nor who would travel at all well to be plunked down into a foreign home, led me to place those plans on hold for now. It’s supposed to rain all weekend, but we have a fireplace so it should be cozy and relaxing. I’m giving my husband the opportunity to deal with senile old cat for a few days. I imagine that I will take you all along, as I think I would miss reading my daily blog updates, and I may be inspired to write a post or two.

Now, remember this post from a few days agoย Feminist Friday: Discussions of feminism, atheism and religious belief.

I am fascinated by this topic, specifically how feminism addresses women and religious belief. In that first post, I was trying to remain open to delving into feminist views on all belief systems. Minimal research up to this point causes me to believe that I need to stay within feminism and Christian religion. Feminists most likely have their opinions about other beliefs, or at least how those beliefs affect women, but I am feeling as if this entire notion is going to be a struggle as it is. I really don’t want to turn this into a research project of great magnitude. I mostly want to satisfy my curiosity regarding current feminist viewpoints on the oppressive nature of religion, if that is how feminism defines Christian religion.

After checking my texts on theory, gender, and also one that I have on transnational feminisms, I’m rather disappointed that only one addresses religion at all. I’ve been checking here and there on the web, and while feminists address religious views that employ their dogma under the guise of ‘God’s word’ to attempt to regulate women’s bodies and behaviors I’m not really sure that this is the road I had planned to take. I realize that I’m rambling here, which leads me to believe that I need to construct a specific thesis statement to lend focus here…see what I mean…research paper in the making.

So bear with me for a moment as I ramble and wander a bit more.

I know that for the majority, many feminists included, faith and belief in God is a central tenet of their existence. It is something that defines them.

I can only believe that Christian faith and belief, centered on patriarchy and passed down from male viewpoints and teachings, has to cause issues with some feminists.

How then, do these feminists reconcile their faith when it presents as judgmental, repressive and possibly even misogynistic toward women.ย 

If feminists cannot find adequate (and I don’t even really know what would be adequate) means to come to terms with the dichotomy between a patriarchal Christian system and their lived feminism, do they step away from their faith, and how then, do they define themselves if at all in conjunction with religion

If the definition of atheist is a person who lacks a belief in gods, I must ponder if feminists who define themselves in terms of being against all forms of patriarchal oppression, come to repudiate their belief in God

What are the emotional and psychological ramifications (if any) to a feminist who has been raised with a familial background in religious belief who comes to deny fundamental aspects of their lived experience in faith

There are just some of the points that I’ve been pondering, inspired in part byย an article that was shared with me from a Christian blog. The particular article voiced opinion on how a wife could remain ‘godly.’ It was…interesting… I truly lack a better word at this moment and I’m not sure that putting the words I want to use to describe the article will be beneficial to any open dialog if this all moves forward.

So while I feel as if this topic is dangling precariously over the great void that is my indecision in how to approach the subject coherently, I will take the text with me this weekend, plus any of the newly purchased used books that arrive prior to Saturday, on this topic.

I feel myself wanting to simply link the article mentioned above, go off on a tangent and rant to my heart’s content about conservative, fundamental Christians and their oppression of women and be done with this. But I also want to know why it seems, in light of the small amount of information on feminism and religion that I have come across, that some/many feminists seem to take issue with specific aspects of religious oppression, but perhaps overlook the big picture. That picture being their place within that same oppressive system as followers and faithful themselves.

Does their own faith lead them to overlook some acts of oppression, and act on others. Are they hypocritical, or so conflicted that turning to radical disdain and abject denial of their faith, such as Mary Daly did, is too difficult…sorry, I ramble again.

If anyone has been able to make heads or tails of this post, please comment and set me in some sort of forward direction if you are able. Share info if you have it. Tell me to drop the whole thing if you think that’s the direction I need to go.

And if you made it through all that and reached this point, this is for you.



20 thoughts on “A weekend away; and, more thoughts on that feminism and religion post”

  1. Gonna throw my one cent in the pot here (religion is not really my area — hence I’m not offering up the standard “my two cents”). The first people who came to my mind reading your post were Kate Kelly, the Mormon feminist excommunicated for her advocacy work, and many US women religious (such as the Nuns On A Bus), who are in the midst of a long power struggle with the Vatican over the way they approach social justice issues, including women’s rights within the Catholic Church.

    What strikes me about all of these women is how they are working for a third path — neither abandoning their religions nor adjusting themselves to fit into the more patriarchal aspects — but fighting for change from the inside. I see it as similar to my choice to train my attention almost exclusively on contemporary issues within the US: because for good and ill, I experience my position as a citizen of this nation as perhaps my most profound identity. As the central axis that grounds me. And I am as much a part of this polity as the people who would perpetuate the very worst in our nation. It makes sense to me that women who have felt deeply connected to their faith their whole lives would find it as unthinkable to not be a Mormon/Catholic/Southern Baptist/etc. as I would to be not an American, and thus they refuse to yield ground on who gets to say what that faith is.

    Look forward to seeing where this line of inquiry leads you!


    1. Thanks! I may have run across the name Kate Kelly somewhere, at the very least the topic of Mormon feminism is sounding familiar…perhaps in one of the essay’s that await me…
      I think as I go along that I am going to find more and more the agreement among faithful feminists that it is more the norm to change from within as you and others have suggested, rather than to abandon all belief. If I really wanted to take on a major project, I may have to look at atheism itself for some answers as to how atheists came to their decision- meaning is their lack of belief purely scientific, were they led to atheism from disillusionment, etc., and I think digging for those statistics, then the analysis on top of that, plus the addition of feminist choices and place…sounds like a Master’s thesis to me ๐Ÿ˜‰


      1. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: you can take the girl out of the academy, but you can’t take the academic out of the girl!

        This is why I stick to memoir: easier to do a large number of investigations if you always restrict your research data to a case study of one. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought of a couple of blogs /writers you might find useful in this project, in case you don’t already know them:

    Libby Anne has a blog at Patheos – she’s an atheist now, grew up evangelical, and blogs about feminism and *leaving* religion. e.g. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2011/12/feminism-explained.html – a bit different from what you want but it’s about the conflict anyway.

    Anne Lamott – she doesn’t have a blog to my knowledge, but writes for various venues (and on FB: https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott). She’s a liberal feminist Christian.

    Rachel Held Evans, who says she became a feminist *because* of Christianity – http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/accidental-feminist

    … I know there are one or two others I can’t think of right now, but I’ll get back to you if I remember. It’s an interesting line of thought, I look forward to hearing what you learn.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. One more: I couldn’t remember her blog name, and then a new post popped up today: http://accidentaldevotional.com/ She talks mostly about Christianity, and I don’t know whether she would explicitly identify as feminist, but she shares many feminist perspectives (see, for instance, her videos under the ‘I’m in charge of my own body’ tab).


  3. I think people reconcile their beliefs with their religion by modifying the tenets of their religion, in practice. Look how many people condone legal killing or wartime killing when God said ‘thou shalt not kill’. I guess feminists must do the same – god after all is created by people, so people can change god as the times demand. Said as an atheist, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “…god after all is created by people, so people can change god as the times demand…” Well, why couldn’t I have said that ๐Ÿ™‚ Most straightforward explanation yet and one I am in total agreement with.


  4. “do they step away from their faith, and how then, do they define themselves if at all in conjunction with religion”

    I think it’s important in this discussion for there to be a delineation belief in a god and one’s role within a religious social structure. Now, the two often go hand in hand, sure, but I think there’s plenty of room for a belief to be held without necessarily agreeing with the religious structure with which you are affiliated.

    Let’s use Christianity for example, since it seems that’s where you’ll be focusing. If one is involved with a certain Christian denomination, but finds that they do not agree with this specific domination’s views on women – or just its social tenets, in general – then this does not need to negate one’s belief in God, per se. One may explore other denominations, or even just transform their own views within the denomination.

    Point is, there is a distinction to be made between personal beliefs and involvement in the social structure we call religion.


    1. Agreed. And I think historically that is what has led many females, feminist or not, plus others who question doctrine, to seek different denominations, and even entirely different belief systems in the hopes that they will still have a connection with their faith in a god. My thinking simply leads me to then wonder about those who try to find a meaning within a new religious group, and are still confronted with doctrine that they simply cannot accept. Do they keep going until no more options are left…or do they really start to question themselves on a deeper level and attempt to define why and how they feel compelled to hold onto their beliefs, especially if they are unable to rectify within themselves the teachings and doctrine presented as truth.


      1. I suppose it depends on the person and why they believe. I can see it going both ways: one slowly loses their faith and others will re-define themselves to maintain their belief systems. I don’t think you’re going to find simple answers


  5. The Bibile is full of stories that would shake you up as a feminist. Remember, it was written (a long time ago). Our concept of democracy comes from Greece and yet they didn’t allow women the vote. I like to think that our society has moved forward in many respects. Women can vote. Our concept of the Divine has also changed. You simply can’t ignore the input and thoughts of 50% of the population and think all is well with the world.


    1. I tend to think that we are more still in a one step forward, two steps backward momentum in many ways regarding society and the place of women. Sadly, I also think that there are quite a large number in society that are trying desperately to ignore that female 50% and stick to their claims that the world is just fine thank you very much ๐Ÿ™‚


      1. Believe me it was much worse in my grandmothers’ day. Yes there are many places still in the dark ages, and even we have more to learn, but it is much better now.


  6. I think you are on the right track… But as you no doubt know, dealing with Christianity is a very broad thing with varied interpretations of women’s roles ranging across a very wide spectrum. I can bet I know what was in that “godly” article. I like my faith in a higher power. It lends beauty and reason to my world, something I need in order to maintain a high level of compassion day in and day out. Not everyone needs that. I do. So despite the deep rooted feeling that what I was taught growing up about women in Christianity had to be fundamentally wrong, I could not ever completely leave it behind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I think that this very concept that seems right for you may be something that some feminists also live…and so I go back to that whole conflicted notion and wanting to know from others (maybe not just feminists though?) about dealing personally with deep faith in a divine while finding teachings contradictory…Perhaps this is a topic best served within a philosophy course or some such outlet. I so appreciate your response here, I hope that I can find more insight as I go through some of the resources I have.

      Liked by 1 person

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