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UConn WGSS 3403 - The Feminine Rebirth

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1 Lauren Tougas Professor Humphrey Women and Religion 2 December 2019 The Feminine Rebirth “Conception, labor, and birthing- metaphors thick with the image and experiences of women- offer a body parable of the process of awakening” (Kidd, 11). A woman’s spiritual development is a journey in which she bridges the gaps between nature, the Divine Femine, and her soul. She is rebirthed, with a new perception and grasp on what it means to be herself, as a female and a creation of nature. Society has strived to hold the feminine back from spreading its wings along regular life and practices of health. As Sue Monk Kidd states, it is not a surrendering of yourself, but a coming to self, and that means something different for each female. A woman’s spiritual development is a pinnacle part of her life so that she is able to be the greatest connected with herself, and no woman will have the same journey as all the others. In order for a woman’s spiritual development to take place, she must first let go of all preconceptions, and then define what her spirituality and coming to self represents to her so that she can cross thresholds throughout her future. Through a feminine spiritual journey, the female can find her inner peace. It is “not about finding light but about going into the darkness and befriending it. If we remain there long enough, it takes on its own luminosity. It will reveal everything to us” (Kidd, 93).2 Carol Christ said a woman’s awakening begins with an “experience of nothingness.” From the very beginning, our paths have been paved for us, leading us in one, predestined direction where our concerns and wellbeing have been neglected. It was decided that woman was to blame for the fall of man; No woman can be the perfect woman as we cannot be a virgin and mother. Not only have our voices been neglected, but they have been written over, putting words in our mouths so that the strong spiritual connection the feminine has with nature and the sacred world is hidden, forgotten, and left behind. Sue Monk Kidd discussed the need for women to let go of all things they know as reality in order to begin their spiritual awakening in her book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. This relates to an experience of nothingness in that if one neglects all prior teachings, one is left with such an experience. Kidd first emphasizes the ideal of being born tainted, or the original sin of being called female. We must first begin with releasing this view of the female or one’s self. She then discusses the power of perspective. “Patriarchy is neither men nor the masculine principle; it is rather a system in which that principle has become distorted (Kidd, 59).” All females, those embarking on a spiritual journey or not, should remember throughout their lives that the patriarchy is only one way of viewing reality and is not reality itself. Those that see no hope in humanity because of the current state of affairs around the world must keep in mind there are other ways in which society can be organized. This is an example of how she can set aside her unquestioned loyalty and look critically at the tradition and convention that has made up the world around her. One of the largest and most necessary steps in the journey of a spiritual awakening is stepping back from reality, especially if that reality is delved into all things patriarchy. “Patriarchy had created a world where spirit is split from body, humans from nature, and natural from divine” (Kidd, 96).3 Kidd reflects on feeling those splits within herself. When she “leaves” patriarchy, she is left abandoned to her own self for the first time. This is why many feel as Kidd felt, wanting to regress in her journey and go back to simpler times where she saw many women, still, in her everyday life. In order to bridge those gaps that patriarchy strives to lengthen, she must separate herself from all she knows so that she can see all she has yet to learn. The decision to be a reformer or a revolutionary is one of the biggest aspects to one’s spiritual awakening. It will define the future of her journey and where it shall take her. Judith Plaskow and Carol Christ discuss their theory of the Reformer vs. Revolutionary in their book, Goddess and God in The World. A reformer is one who works within patriarchal structures to allow for more female-friendly interpretations and practices, and a revolutionary is one who leaves such structures to begin anew. In Faithfully Feminist by Messina-Dysert, Zobair, and Levin, they claim that it is a feminist act to leave, and a feminst act to stay. There is no one correct answer. Both efforts aim to do the same thing, give the feminine room to be respected, with just different methods in how to achieve such a goal. Plaskow and Christ examine the views on both decisions. Some argue that the oppressive passages of many religions are misinterpreted, but others say a liberation is useless since you cannot separate the oppressive passages from the liberating ones. For example, theologians speculate that God made Eve an equal to Adam as the language used is all-inclusive, but the passage was interpreted to oppress and bring women down as subordinates. There is no way to know which passages and traditions are those of divine production and which are of human invention. A revolutionary believes we must decipher with a feminist eye which traditions we want to embrace and which we do not. A reformer believes there is no way to separate the liberating aspects from the oppressive ones, so she must work4 within those traditions to transform it. It is necessary for a woman going through a spiritual development to decide whether she wants to be a reformer or a revolutionary, both with equally difficult and rewarding tasks. Imagery is a very influential part to not only the spiritual journey one takes, but also to the important decision one makes on whether to be a reformer or revolutionary. A topic commonly discussed is God being portrayed as a male. Despite there being language that allows for God to be interpreted as either gender, or neither, the image in most people’s mind when they hear the word is a male figure. Sallie McFague said, “God is she, he, and neither.” In both Goddess and God in the World and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, the authors take approaches and discuss this issue many women struggle with within their faith. Christ and Plaskow talk


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