Friday, February 1, 2008

Dangerous Question...

At least for someone whose head has been and is infested with a rather Gnostic sense of reality. (And Gnostics and Manicheans are difficult to kick out of your head, which is why Western Christianity is infested with everything dysfunctional about Manicheanism, with none of the more interesting insights -- thank you, Augustine!)

"Are bodies and sexuality essential parts of being human--or are we, perhaps, merely souls inhabiting bodies?"

So that's this week's topic for the reading response journal thing we have for Feminist Theology. It's also one of my personal, philosophical hang-ups. The issue of embodiment. What does it mean to be embodied? Why am I embodied in the body I'm in? Why do people confuse the body I'm in with me? (Yes, I'm still mad that I'm barred from many monasteries.)

Incidentally, the accompanying reading is Dawne Moon's God, Sex, and Politics -- which is a fascinating and though-provoking study of two United Methodist Churches and their responses to gays and lesbians.

In related news -- sky burial is more awesome than I had previously thought.

Monday, January 28, 2008

This is what a Post-Feminist looks like

I think I'm disillusioned with feminism.

No, not in that way. Patriarchy is bad. Sledge hammers should be taken to it with gusto, preferably on a frequent basis. Castrate the idols, already!

Here's the sit.

I'm currently in a redux of Feminist Theology. Which means I'm reading roughly the same texts as I was two years ago when the class had a different number and was taught by a different professor. In some cases, the texts are just as delightful the second time around as they were the first. (Ada Maria Isasai-Diaz's Mujerista Theology remains highly recommended.) But coming back to intro-level Feminist discussions after having read Judith Butler is somewhat painful. (We're talking very intro-level here. Rhodents can apparently make it to their junior or senior year, not know the first thing about feminism, and be "concerned" about taking a feminist theology class.)

For instance, during a class discussion of creating feminist religious rituals to embrace womanhood and womanliness, I was sitting in the back corner of the room (in a gray vest and a matching gray fedora of gloriousness!) twitching a bit, and wanting to throw out the question -- does it really do any good to create feminist rituals, if the only thing you are accomplishing is reinforcing the boundaries between the constructed categories of gender? Couldn't this just be adding to the problem and continuing to force individuals into categories that are not based in their experience and so not adequately describe them? Does this lead to liberation?

I did not do this. I felt it would be rude (this was a student led discussion). Also, it would have been completely unproductive. I might have managed to engage three people out of the class of 25 or so. The rest would have been staring at me, thinking, "constructed categories of gender, buh?"

See, I wouldn't mind reading texts that I find to be outdated and essentialize the idea of some essential (non-biological) difference between the sexes, if I felt I could actually pull off getting a discussion going about possible critiques and so on and so forth. But I'm in a class that may very well suggest that Womanist and Mujerista theologies are excluding (silencing might even make an appearance, who knows?) white women. I mean, the class did decide that a feminist rereading of Genesis 2-3 was too anti-male in tone. (The exegete, Phyllis Trible, was using narrative theory and analyzing the characterization of Adam and Eve. She argued that the narrative presents Eve as far more curious than Adam, who's far more passive in the text. At no point did she suggest that this was a reflection on the male portion of the population -- her point was that traditional readings have not paid attention to the actual narrative, because they were too busy reading in the patriarchy.)


So, I have both an example of why feminism remains a necessary movement, and an example of why I may well be post feminist at this point.

Or not.

Darned categories. If I had a hammer, I'd smash the categories. And then the patriarchy would fall into the abyss.