Gender and Religion: History of Study
GENDER AND RELIGION: HISTORY OF STUDY
Any consideration of the historical development of gender and religion as a field of enquiry over the late twentieth century and the early twenty-first century must acknowledge the central role of feminism. From the beginning of the feminist movement a strong connection was made between the status of women and the authorizing function of religion (specifically Christianity) in maintaining gender inequalities. At the same time, however, attention was paid to its emancipatory potential. For example, campaigns for the abolition of slavery and extension of political rights to women were motivated by Christian ethical teachings. Furthermore moves to improve the status of women within ecclesiastical hierarchies were made: in 1853 the Congregational Church in New York ordained the first female minister, the Reverend Antoinette Brown (1825–1921), and in the early 1840s Oberlin College in the United States enrolled a small number of women into its theological school, having started admitting women to higher education in 1837. As Ursula King has noted, "Women's admission to theological studies [was] the most important contributory factor in making women theologically literate, thus enabling them to contribute to theological debates on their own terms" (Ursula King, 1990a, p. 278).
Despite these positive initiatives, a number of prominent suffragists highlighted the oppressive role of Christianity in maintaining the inferior status of women. For example, in 1893 Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826–1898) published Woman, Church, and State, which is generally accepted as the first attempt to offer a historical account of the subordination of women within the Christian tradition. She was, however, viewed by many within the suffrage movement as dangerously radical and was marginalized in historical accounts of the movement. Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) suffered a similar fate following her publication of The Woman's Bible (1895–1898)—coedited by Gage and Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906)—a reworking of the Christian Bible in which all recognizably "antifeminist" passages were excised in order to demonstrate its marginalization of women. Despite the negative reception of her work among fellow suffragists, the significance of her contribution is seen by contemporary feminist theologians to lie in her initiation of a "long overdue process of biblical interpretation by and for women" (Isherwood and McEwan, 1993, p. 50). This work was taken up vigorously from the 1960s onward in the context of the women's liberation movement.
Feminism and Religious Studies: 1960–1990
The 1960s saw a number of rights-based movements emerge: black liberation and the Civil Rights movement, sexual liberation, gay liberation, the anti–Vietnam War movement, and the women's liberation movement or second wave feminism. Throughout the decade the women's liberation movement established itself as a major political force across Europe, North America, India, and elsewhere. Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1963) heralded the beginning of the women's liberation movement in the United States. Friedan identified what she called "the problem that has no name"—a "mystique" she defined as the sense of worthlessness that women experienced due to their financial, intellectual, and emotional dependence on men.
Context: The women's liberation movement
By 1970 women's liberation had come of age in North America. In the same year the first British conference on women's liberation was held in Oxford marking the founding of the British movement; Germaine Greer published The Female Eunuch, arguing that sexual liberation was the key to women's liberation; Shulamith Firestone published The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, in which she identified "sex class"—the condition of women as an oppressed class—and articulated a central tenet of radical feminism, that men's domination of women is the fundamental form of oppression; and Kate Millet published Sexual Politics, an analysis of patriarchy as a socially conditioned belief system that masquerades as the natural order.
The defining concerns of the feminist movement were quickly apparent. Firstly, feminists agreed that in every society that divided the sexes into bifurcated cultural, economic, or political spheres women were less valued than men. Secondly, key concepts like "patriarchy," "androcentrism," "sexism," and "misogyny" were formulated to explain the universal oppression of women. The idea of misogyny was a fundamental concept for the women's movement, seen as a lens through which all cultural and social practices, both historical and contemporary, could be viewed and explained, while patriarchy was viewed as the ubiquitous structure that enabled the elaborate expression of misogyny across a wide range of cultural, political, and intellectual systems. Thirdly, feminists critiqued the paradigms that placed men above women or represented them as the norm. Fourthly, feminists theorized an autonomous female identity where women's bodies and feminine activities were prioritized and represented as positive in contrast to the centuries-old portrayal of femininity as a source of danger, impurity, and evil. Finally, feminist activism was organized around the principle that women could collectively change their social position and identity by advocating equal employment and reproductive and sexual rights and by resisting all forms of gender-based discrimination.
However, despite broad agreement regarding the feminist assessment of the position of women, the women's movement was challenged by black feminists who experienced both sexual and racial discrimination (see Hull, Scott, and Smith, 1982; see also Ware, 1992, which shows that racism infected relations between white and black women even in the earliest stages of the feminist movement), and by lesbian feminists (see Myron and Bunch, 1975). Both groups argued that second wave feminism was overdominated by white, middle-class, and heterosexual agendas that were visibly unable (or even unwilling) to account for and challenge the multiple axes of oppression produced in the intersections between class, race, and sexuality. In other words, the plurality of women's material realities was mistakenly conflated with the universal and homogenous category "Woman," and this had the effect of erasing important differences between women. The failure of the leaders of the women's liberation movement to take the challenges of their fellow feminists seriously and to integrate their concerns resulted in the splintering of the movement.
If feminism was losing its way as a unified political movement, it was increasingly making its presence felt in universities as feminists recognized the powerful role of educational institutions in shaping cultural values and meanings. Women's studies departments and programs were established from the late 1960s onward as academic feminists sought to transform the androcentric basis of knowledge production and to challenge the omission of female perspectives. By the early 1980s women's studies had been an established field for over a decade, despite considerable hostility from those feminist activists who viewed it as a regrettable alliance with establishment values and a depoliticization of feminism. However, feminist theory did distinguish itself from mainstream academic scholarship by emphasizing its overtly political nature and its commitment to social, epistemological, and material change; feminist religious studies were no exception.
Content: Feminism and religious studies
Ursula King has noted the invisibility of religious studies within feminist and women's studies curricula and anthologies, and this can be attributed to the prevalent assumption among feminists that religion had little to offer women (Ursula King, 1990a, p. 275; 1995, pp. 219–220). Nonetheless some scholars working in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by the insights of the women's liberation movement, began to examine religious traditions critically, at first in confessional contexts and then in the secular study of religions. June O'Connor has summarized their efforts as "rereading, reconceiving, and reconstruction" informed by questions regarding "women as subject," "sensitivity to and criticism of the manner in which [religious] traditions … have been studied and … formulated," and a concern with "our scholarly angles of vision, our research methods and approaches" (O'Connor, 1989, pp. 101–102). Accordingly four main preoccupations characterized work in the field during this period:
- scholars exposed the androcentrism and misogyny of the Christian and, to a lesser extent, the Jewish traditions;
- women were identified as a legitimate category of analysis as well as active agents of religious practice and study, with women's experiences being promoted as a credible and corrective hermeneutical tool;
- new forms of female-centered religiosity were explored;
- epistemological and methodological tools were developed in order to challenge the androcentric bias of mainstream scholarship in theology and religious studies.
Scholars began theological reflection from an engaged, although expressly critical, stance and initiated a movement away from the presentation of divinity as male within Christianity and Judaism. The quest was initially a personal and religious one: a question of finding, reshaping, and transforming symbols of divinity that would legitimize women's experiences and produce a positive sense of female identity.
Mary Daly's The Church and the Second Sex (1968) was a milestone, inaugurating a new era of feminist theological reflection marked by the systematic critique and reformulation of Christian doctrine from the perspective of women's experience. Following Daly, writers like Rosemary Radford Ruether (1983b, 1985), Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (1983), and Judith Plaskow (1990) contributed to a lively and wide-ranging discourse based explicitly around the spiritual needs of contemporary women and the need to reform Christianity and Judaism from the standpoint of feminism.
However, Daly quickly moved to question whether or not Christianity was capable of reform or in fact irredeemably sexist. In 1971, as the first woman preacher at the Harvard Memorial Church, she spoke on the theme "The Women's Movement: An Exodus Community," inviting women in the congregation to leave the church together as a way of symbolically rejecting women's subordination within the church:
We cannot really belong to institutional religion as it exists. It isn't good enough to be token preachers. It isn't good enough to have our energies drained and co-opted. Singing sexist hymns, praying to a male god breaks our spirit, makes us less than human. The crushing weight of this tradition, of this power structure, tells us that we do not even exist. Let us affirm our faith in ourselves and our will to transcendence by rising and walking out together. (Daly, 1972, p. 335)
Daly followed this up in 1973 with Beyond God the Father, marking the start of a protracted debate among feminist theologians regarding the extent to which religious commitment could be compatible with feminist goals and beliefs. Those who, like Daly, suggested that the only feasible option for Christian feminists was to abandon the tradition and create a new one based on women's contemporary religious experience were described as post-Christian feminists or as separatists (see Hampson, 1996). Other feminist theologians responded to Daly's work by offering their own critiques of the Christian tradition but, rather than rejecting it, affirmed that it was capable of reform (see Ruether 1974, 1981; Trible, 1978). They worked to produce new models that could act as correctives to oppressive ideologies and were broadly characterized as reformists. However, as with the broader women's movement, the issue of how to define women's experience became a contested area with the emergence of the distinctive voices of black and Womanist, Asian, Latin American (mujerista), and lesbian feminist theologians, which, while present from the beginning, began to find fuller expression in the 1980s.
The analysis of misogyny as well as the forms and conceptual underpinnings of patriarchy were related preoccupations in the area of feminist religious studies in the 1960s and 1970s. Feminist writers maintained that women had been deprived of their history (conceived of as originally matriarchal), that their unique religious contributions had been excised through a series of patriarchal interventions, and that the promotion of God as male in many religions had damaged women's relationships to both divinity and each other. A feminist project, known broadly as the Goddess movement or Feminist Spirituality, aimed to re-create and reimagine women's history and religious experience utilizing myth, folklore, and the archaeology of material culture. It was predicated on the conviction that what was lost in history could be recovered and would create a space for a feminine spirituality that centered on the Goddess and women's experience. Writers within the movement attempted to redefine the relationship between masculine and feminine aspects of deity by inverting their relative status so that the feminine was viewed as more originary and relevant to women's spiritual expression.
The Harvard archaeologist Marija Gimbutas's work provided a scholarly framework for the Goddess movement's account of matriarchal prehistory, giving it both an imprimatur of authenticity and a credible historical genealogy. She focused on the prehistoric cultures of Southeast Europe, featuring discoveries in "old Europe" of numerous "female" statues in stone, bone, ivory, and clay (some with pregnant bellies, large, exaggerated breasts, and stylized vulvae), as evidence for matriarchal societies in the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras (Gimbutas, 1982; 1989). The Goddess movement as well as Gimbutas's work have been severely critiqued from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, all of which have challenged the historical verifiability of its claims and have leveled charges of essentialism and reversed patriarchy (see Wood, 1996; Goodison and Morris, 1998; Eller, 2000).
In spite of the work highlighting women's historical subordination within religious traditions, feminist theologians as well as scholars of religions also drew attention to women as active agents and religious innovators in their own right. Within the context of feminist theology, this concern was a response to the contemporary controversy over the role of women in the church, particularly over the ordination of women. Much early scholarship was therefore concerned with women's leadership in the church in different historical periods. An important example was Women of Spirit: Female Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (Ruether and McLaughlin, 1979), which argued that although women had been excluded from institutional leadership roles, in the past they had held important positions. It was thus important to present women's involvement in the history of the Christian tradition as a way of contributing to its reformation. Studies exploring exceptional religious women, such as Clarissa Atkinson's Mystic and Pilgrim: The Book and the World of Margery Kempe (1983) and Elizabeth Dreyer's Passionate Women: Two Medieval Mystics (1989), also appeared.
Cross-cultural studies in the field of feminist religious studies also kept pace, investigating the relationship between the treatment of women within religious traditions and their position in wider social systems, demonstrating how women's strategies of resistance and innovation emerged within a multitude of religious traditions, and assessing the ambiguity of feminine symbolism within many religious systems. Notable among these were Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow (1979), Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Ellison Banks Findly (1985), Clarissa W. Atkinson, Constance H. Buchanan, and Margaret R. Miles (1985), Caroline Walker Bynum (1987), Judith Plaskow and Carol P. Christ (1989), and Ursula King (1989).
A further trend was scholarship that addressed the neglect of women's perspectives and data within religious studies. The first of these—Women and Religion, edited by Judith Plaskow and Joan A. Romero—appeared in 1974, followed by Denise Lardner Carmody's Women and World Religions (1979). The first truly cross-cultural, nonconfessional volumes were published by Nancy Falk and Rita Gross (1980) and Ursula King (1987). Falk and Gross aimed to locate women's religious lives in a variety of traditions at the center of their study rather than the periphery, as was traditionally the case in religious studies. Numerous publications rendering women's participation in religious traditions more visible quickly followed (for example, Sharma, 1987). Studies focusing on the position and roles of women within single traditions were also produced (for example, Paul, 1979; Jacobson and Wadley, 1977; Al-Hibri, 1982).
The field of "Women and Religion" now gained limited recognition at the institutional level. Harvard Divinity School established a women's caucus in 1970, preparing the ground for the introduction of the Women's Studies in Religion program in 1973; the American Academy of Religion (AAR) introduced the "Woman and Religion" section to its annual conference; the Fourteenth International Association of the History of Religions (IAHR) Congress in Winnipeg in 1980 included a panel on "Femininity and Religion"; the British Association for the Study of Religion (BASR) titled its 1989 conference "Religion and Gender"; and Lancaster University established the first master's program in Women and Religion in the United Kingdom in the same year (Ursula King, 1990a, pp. 279–280). Although this work was vital for the recognition of female agency within religious traditions, it was generally ineffectual in challenging the androcentric bias of religious studies. Instead, a women-centered approach was seen within the field to be of concern only to women and with little to contribute to broader methodological debates. This was clear from the lack of integration of feminist perspectives in core syllabi, the comparatively low volume of publication in the area, the unsatisfactory profile of the subject at international conferences, the struggle to encourage university libraries to stock copies of relevant publications, and the underrepresentation of academics researching women in university departments (see Ursula King, 1990a; 1995a).
Feminist scholars in the study of religions thus began to offer methodological reflections in order to confront the androcentrism of the field. Rita Gross's pioneering article "Methodological Remarks on the Study of Women in Religion" (1974) and her book Beyond Androcentrism: New Essays on Women and Religion (1977) were the first to promote a feminist methodology in religious studies. Rosemary Ruether contributed her article "The Feminist Critique in Religious Studies" (1983a) to a volume on the impact of feminist studies in academia, and the Encyclopedia of Religion (Eliade, 1987) commissioned two articles on the topic: "Women's Studies" by Constance Buchanan and "Androcentrism" by Ruether (however, see King 1990b for a critique of the encyclopedia's failure to integrate feminist perspectives and for presenting an androcentric view of religion).
It was because of the entrenched marginalization of female perspectives at the empirical and institutional levels that the inclusion of feminist theory in the mainstream development of religious studies began to be framed in terms of offering a paradigm shift. Carol P. Christ (1987; see also 1989, 1991) was the first to suggest that the integration of feminist scholarship could ensure conceptual change and renewal within the discipline and would provide a necessary corrective to its androcentric foundations. Randi Warne (1989) also characterized the growth of women's studies in religious studies as "a brave new paradigm," drawing attention to the epistemological significance of the feminist challenge to the foundational premises of religious studies. Warne further made a connection between institutional structures, the feminist study of religions, and the status of women working within the field, suggesting that religious studies "must ensure that its departments are materially constructed in such a way that the presumption of male privilege is not maintained" (Warne, 1989, p. 43).
Gender and Religion from the 1990s
The analysis of "male privilege" had of course been a central preoccupation of much feminist scholarship from the 1960s onward. However, a shift in emphasis emerged as scholars increasingly recognized the need to consider critically not only constructions of femininity and female identity but also the way they interacted with notions of maleness, especially insofar as they were articulated and promoted in social systems. The development of gender studies as an adjunct to women's studies was a result of this recognition. Feminist scholars from the 1970s onward thus theorized gender as a system of signs or signifiers assigned to sexually dimorphic bodies that acted to distinguish the social roles and meanings those bodies could have. They argued that gender was a social construct configured, enacted, and maintained in social systems and institutions rather than being biologically innate. Peggy Reeves Sanday and Ruth Gallagher Goodenough, for example, signaled discomfort with the decontextualized study of women found in much feminist work. They preferred instead to examine "gender meaning and gender representation" in order to draw out the "contradictory and variable views of maleness and femaleness" in different cultures (Sanday and Goodenough, 1990, p. 5). It also became problematic to discuss female and male relations and roles without taking into consideration the influence of cultural and social variables such as class, race and ethnicity, and sexuality as well as the colonialist distortion of knowledge production in the West.
Context: Gender theory
The emergence of gender studies in the 1990s as a separate field of enquiry was also the result of an increase in epistemological reflection informed by the critiques of poststructural, postcolonial, and queer theory, each of which problematized the dominant (European) humanist presentation of identity as homogenous, universal, and self-evident. Feminist scholarship was not exempt. For example, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, keen to develop a culturally contextualized "formulation of autonomous, geographically, historically, and culturally grounded feminist concerns and strategies," offered a powerful criticism of the "colonialist move" in some Western feminist scholarship on women in the third world, particularly insofar as it appropriated the "production of the 'third world woman' as a singular monolithic subject" (Mohanty, 1991, p. 51).
Another intervention in gender studies was signaled by Judith Butler, who sought to unmask the ways binarized gender categories supported inequitable gender hierarchies and compulsory heterosexuality. She asked, "What new shape of politics emerges when identity as a common ground no longer constrains the discourse on feminist politics? And to what extent does the effort to locate a common identity as the foundation for a feminist politics preclude a radical inquiry into the political construction and regulation of identity itself?" (Butler, 1999, p. xxix). Butler's work was instrumental in the foundation of a new area of inquiry, queer theory, that attended to the social construction of normative and deviant sexual behavior. Queer theory followed feminist and gay-lesbian studies in rejecting the idea that sexuality was determined solely by biology. Instead, sexuality was seen as a complex array of social codes and forces, individual activity, and institutional power-shaping ideas of sexual normativity or deviancy (see Sedgwick, 1990; Jagose, 1996; Warner, 1999).
Another significant shift that contributed to the move from women's studies to gender studies was the emergence of critical and self-reflexive masculinity studies that historicized and analyzed dominant constructions of maleness and was attentive to the differences among men. Pioneering studies were by Harry Brod (1987a, 1987b); Michael S. Kimmel (1987); David D. Gilmore (1990); William G. Doty (1993); and Roger Horrocks (1994).
Content: Gender theory and religion
The study of religions was certainly, if belatedly, influenced by the emergence of gender studies, and studies emerged that embraced the shift from a women-centered approach to the consideration of gender as a central category for critical reflection. The first scholars to acknowledge the potential of gender theory to illuminate the complex interrelationship of male and female roles within religious traditions were Caroline Walker Bynum, Stevan Harrell, and Paula Richman (1986). Studies exploring the connections between gender and religion, with a new theoretical sophistication, rapidly appeared, most notably by Bynum (1991), Leila Ahmed (1992), Grace M. Jantzen (1995), and Ursula King, whose groundbreaking edited volume Religion and Gender (1995) offered wide-ranging critiques of the gender-blindness of religious studies, reflections on the gendered nature of research, gender-critical perspectives on the empirical study of women in a variety of religious traditions, and reconsiderations of feminist spirituality.
Critical studies of masculinity and religion were inaugurated by Stephen B. Boyd, W. Merle Longwood, and Mark W. Muesse, who offered a comprehensive and provocative insight into masculinities and male experiences as specific and varying sociohistorical and cultural formations. The editors acknowledged their "tremendous debt to the influence of feminist theory," and the essays were built on the assumption that the construction of dominant forms of masculinity within religious traditions was problematic and in need of revision (Boyd, Longwood, and Muesse, 1996, p. xiii). Several other notable books in the area followed (Capps, 2002; Raines, 2001; Putney, 2001; Moore, 2001; Monti, 2002), and it is likely to prove an increasingly fruitful area of research in the coming years.
Issues regarding sexuality and religion also received attention, building on the earlier work of gay and lesbian theologians. Richard Hasbany's Homosexuality and Religion (1989) was a pioneering work exploring the dilemmas institutional religion posed for gays and lesbians. In the late 1990s studies of sexuality developed a new heuristic cogency as explorations were extended to issues of embodiment and corporeality (Coakley, 1997; Grovijahn, 1998; Carrette, 2000), the insights of gay-lesbian and queer theory (Schippert, 1999; Neitz, 2000), the place of homosexuality within religious traditions (Bouldrey, 1995; Stuart, 1997; Shallenberger, 1998; Rogers, 2002), gay-lesbian perspectives on the study of religions (Johnson, 2002; Althaus-Reid, 2001; Gill, 2004), and the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender (Carrette and Keller, 1999; Hayes, Porter, and Tombs, 1998).
Theoretical reflections on the conceptual underpinnings of the study of religions from the standpoint of gender theory were another influential trend. Marsha Aileen Hewitt (1995), Grace Jantzen (1998), and Pamela Sue Anderson (1998) offered impressive epistemological reflections on the discursive ideologies operating within the study of religions. Attention was also increasingly paid to the theories of the poststructural "feminist" scholars—Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, and Luce Irigaray among others—as a means of reflecting on and critiquing the gendered nature of religious discourse (see Crownfield, 1992; Joy, O'Grady, and Poxon, 2002, 2003).
The most important and timely theoretical perspectives to emerge, however, were those of postcolonialist scholars critical of the ethnocentrism of the field of gender and religion. Their interventions have paralleled broader debates regarding the colonialist legacy of the study of religions (see McCutcheon, 1997; Flood, 1999; Richard King, 1999; Fitzgerald, 2000) and have led to accusations of the complicity of gender-theoretical scholars in the social, political, and epistemic violence exercised by the West toward non-Western cultures. Research challenging Western gender-critical scholars to reflect upon the relationship between scholarship and the ethics of representation from the perspective of non-Western "others" has proliferated (see Durre Ahmed, 2002), and Western scholars are beginning to respond to these critiques. Ursula King and Tina Beattie's volume Gender, Religion, and Diversity (2004) testifies to a new willingness to engage in dialogue, to challenge core assumptions, and to learn from the perspectives of non-Western gender-critical scholars. It is clear, however, that much work remains to be done. As Chandra Mohanty has suggested, "Western feminist writing on women in the third world must be considered in the context of the global hegemony of western scholarship—i.e., the production, publication, distribution and consumption of information and ideas" (Mohanty, 1991, p. 55).
Gender-critical scholars are therefore faced with the daunting task of dismantling and reforming the certainties of key feminist insights in order to ensure that the perspectives of postcolonial theorists are heard and acted upon. Given the scope and passionate engagement of gender scholarship in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century, it is to be hoped that the task is taken up with the same commitment to social justice and transformation that has guided the field from its beginning.
Androcentrism; Feminine Sacrality; Feminism, articles on Feminism, Gender Studies, and Religion, and French Feminists on Religion; Feminist Theology, overview article; Gage, Matilda Joslyn; Goddess Worship, article on Theoretical Perspectives; Gynocentrism; Human Body, article on Human Bodies, Religion, and Gender; Masculine Sacrality; Men's Studies in Religion; Patriarchy and Matriarchy; Stanton, Elizabeth Cady; Women's Studies in Religion.
Ahmed, Durre S., ed. Gendering the Spirit: Women, Religion, and the Post-Colonial Response. London, 2002. This book discusses in detail the particular devotional subcultures of Asian women as well as postcolonial perspectives on the religious traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.
Ahmed, Leila. Women and Gender in Islam. New Haven, Conn., and London, 1992. Offers a history of Islamic perspectives on women and gender, situating current debates within their historical frameworks. It is comprehensive, ranging from the ancient world to the present day, and examines the relationship of Middle Eastern women to discourses of imperialism, modernization, and feminism.
Al-Hibri, Azizah, ed. Women and Islam. Oxford and New York, 1982.
Althaus-Reid, Marcella. Indecent Theology: Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender, and Politics. London and New York, 2001. A remarkable and vigorous study that combines liberation theology, queer theory, post-Marxism, and postcolonial theory to examine the sexual experiences of the poor and to unmask the sexual ideologies of systematic theology.
Anderson, Pamela Sue. A Feminist Philosophy of Religion: The Rationality and Myths of Religious Belief. Oxford, 1998.
Atkinson, Clarissa W. Mystic and Pilgrim: The Book and the World of Margery Kempe. Ithaca, N.Y., and London, 1983.
Atkinson, Clarissa W., Constance H. Buchanan, and Margaret R. Miles, eds. Immaculate and Powerful: The Female Sacred Image and Social Reality. Boston, 1985.
Bouldrey, Brian, ed. Wrestling with the Angel: Faith and Religion in the Lives of Gay Men. New York, 1995. This collection examines the struggles of faith of twenty-one gay male writers. Each contributor reflects on the troubled relationship between spirituality and sexuality.
Boyd, Stephen B., W. Merle Longwood, and Mark W. Muesse, eds. Redeeming Men: Religion and Masculinities. Louisville, Ky., 1996.
Brod, Harry, ed. The Making of Masculinities: The New Men's Studies. Boston and London, 1987a.
Brod, Harry. "The New Men's Studies: From Feminist Theory to Gender Scholarship." Hypatia 2 (1987b): 179–196.
Buchanan, Constance. "Women's Studies." In The Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Mircea Eliade, vol. 15, pp. 433–440. New York and London, 1987.
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990). London and New York, 1999.
Bynum, Caroline Walker. Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women. Berkeley, Calif., and London, 1987. An original and provocative examination of women's ascetic practices, linking body, spirit, food, and the sacred together to demonstrate medieval women's creative appropriation and reemployment of religious symbolism.
Bynum, Caroline Walker. Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion. New York, 1991. An exemplary collection of essays exploring a number of medieval texts to draw out women's hidden voices and to demonstrate their strategies of resistance. Bynum offers an innovative interpretation of the role of asceticism and mysticism in Christianity.
Bynum, Caroline Walker, Stevan Harrell, and Paula Richman, eds. Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of Symbols. Boston, 1986.
Capps, Donald. Men and Their Religion: Honor, Hope, and Humor. Harrisburg, Pa., 2002. An insightful Freudian analysis of men's engagement with Jewish and Christian religious traditions that provides insights into the rapid rise of men's religious organizations such as the Promise Keepers.
Carmody, Denise Lardner. Women and World Religions. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1979.
Carrette, Jeremy R. Foucault and Religion: Spiritual Corporality and Political Spirituality. London, 2000. Carrette shows how Michel Foucault offers a twofold critique of Christianity by placing the body and sexuality at the center of religious practice and by offering a political spirituality of the self.
Carrette, Jeremy, and Mary Keller. "Religions, Orientation, and Critical Theory: Race, Gender, and Sexuality at the 1998 Lambeth Conference." Theology and Sexuality: The Journal of the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality 11 (1999): 21–43.
Chitgopekar, Nilima, ed. Invoking Goddesses: Gender Politics in Indian Religion. New Delhi, 2002.
Christ, Carol P. "Toward a Paradigm Shift in the Academy and in Religious Studies." In The Impact of Feminist Research in the Academy, edited by Christie Farnham, pp. 53–76. Bloomington, Ind., 1987.
Christ, Carol P. "Embodied Thinking: Reflections on Feminist Theological Method." Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 5 (1989): 7–17.
Christ, Carol P. "Mircea Eliade and the Feminist Paradigm Shift," Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 7 (1991): 75–94.
Christ, Carol P., and Judith Plaskow. Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion. San Francisco, 1979. A classic anthology on feminist spirituality.
Coakley, Sarah, ed. Religion and the Body. Cambridge, U.K., 1997. A useful collection of essays on the ways diverse religious traditions understand and treat the "body" and problematize contemporary attitudes and assumptions.
Crownfield, David, ed. Body/Text in Julia Kristeva: Religion, Women, and Psychoanalysis. Albany, N.Y., 1992.
Daly, Mary. The Church and the Second Sex. New York, 1968.
Daly, Mary. "The Women's Movement: An Exodus Community." Religious Education 67 (1972): 327–335.
Daly, Mary. Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation. Boston, 1973.
Doty, William G. Myths of Masculinity. New York, 1993.
Dreyer, Elizabeth. Passionate Women: Two Medieval Mystics. New York, 1989.
Eliade, Mircea, ed. The Encyclopedia of Religion. 16 vols. New York and London, 1987.
Eller, Cynthia. Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America. New York, 1993.
Eller, Cynthia. The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future. Boston, 2000.
Falk, Nancy Auer, and Rita M. Gross, eds. Unspoken Worlds: Women's Religious Lives in Non-Western Cultures (1980). San Francisco, 1999.
Firestone, Shulamith. The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution. New York, 1970.
Fitzgerald, Timothy. The Ideology of Religious Studies. New York and Oxford, 2000.
Flood, Gavin. Beyond Phenomenology: Rethinking the Study of Religion. London, 1999.
Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York, 1963.
Gage, Matilda Joslyn. Woman, Church, and State (1893). Watertown, Mass., 1980.
Gill, Sean. "Why Difference Matters: Lesbian and Gay Perspectives on Religion and Gender." In Gender, Religion, and Diversity: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, edited by Ursula King and Tina Beattie, pp. 201–211. London and New York, 2004.
Gilmore, David D. Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity. New Haven, Conn., and London, 1990. A useful cross-cultural survey of the culturally enforced norms of manhood.
Gimbutas, Marija. The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, 6500–3500 bc: Myths and Cult Images. London, 1982.
Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess. San Francisco, 1989.
Goodison, Lucy, and Christine Morris, eds. Ancient Goddesses: The Myths and the Evidence. London, 1998.
Greer, Germaine. The Female Eunuch. London, 1970.
Gross, Rita M. "Methodological Remarks on the Study of Women in Religion: Review, Criticism, and Redefinition." In Women and Religion, rev. ed., edited by Judith Plaskow and Joan A. Romero, pp. 153–165. Missoula, Mont., 1974.
Gross, Rita M., ed. Beyond Androcentrism : New Essays on Women and Religion. Missoula, Mont., 1977.
Grovijahn, Jane M. "Theology as an Irruption into Embodiment: Our Need for God." Theology, and Sexuality: The Journal of the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality 9 (1998): 29–35.
Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, and Ellison Banks Findly, eds. Women, Religion, and Social Change. Albany, N.Y., 1985.
Hampson, Daphne. After Christianity. Valley Forge, Pa., 1996. Hampson examines the conception of God within the Christian tradition and the consequent production of woman as other and argues that the understandings of sin, salvation, sacrifice, and covenant are specifically masculinist. Hampson argues that Christianity is based on a myth that must be discarded if women are to achieve full humanity.
Hasbany, Richard, ed. Homosexuality and Religion. New York, 1989.
Hawthorne, Sîan. "Rethinking Subjectivity in the Gender-Oriented Study of Religions: Kristeva and the 'Subject-in-Process.'" In Gender, Religion, and Diversity: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, edited by Ursula King and Tina Beattie, pp. 40–50. London and New York, 2004.
Hayes, Michael A., Wendy Porter, and David Tombs, eds. Religion and Sexuality. Sheffield, U.K., 1998.
Hewitt, Marsha Aileen. Critical Theory of Religion: A Feminist Analysis. Minneapolis, 1995. This volume discusses key critical themes in the work of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Mary Daly, and Rosemary Radford Ruether and shows how their work offers a point of departure for a feminist critical theory of religion.
Hiltebeitel, Alf, and Kathleen M. Erndl, eds. Is the Goddess a Feminist? The Politics of South Asian Goddesses. New York, 2000.
Horrocks, Roger. Masculinity in Crisis: Myths, Fantasies, and Realities. New York, 1994. This study provides a psychotherapeutic analysis of masculinity, arguing that many men feel devalued and fractured but are nonetheless expected by society to fulfill roles that require ruthless violence and self-reserve. He explores the consequences for men of these expectations and suggests a psychological approach to gender analysis as a way of resolving the crisis of identity that many men acknowledge they experience.
Hull, Gloria T., Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith, eds. All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies. Old Westbury, N.Y., 1982. A groundbreaking collection of essays that combines personal narrative, literary criticism, and empirical analysis to argue that black studies and women's studies do not sufficiently address the complex levels of discrimination faced by black women.
Isherwood, Lisa, and Dorothea McEwan. Introducing Feminist Theology. Sheffield, U.K., 1993.
Jacobson, Doranne, and Susan S. Wadley. Women in India: Two Perspectives. New Delhi, 1977.
Jagose, Annamarie. Queer Theory. Carlton, Australia, 1996. Offers a historical survey of attitudes toward same-sex sex and makes insightful connections to the AIDS epidemic and poststructuralism and other contemporary theoretical movements to argue for the relevance and importance of queer theory.
Jantzen, Grace M. Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism. Cambridge, U.K., 1995. A brilliant deconstructive analysis of mysticism in Western Christianity showing the role of political and social power in determining the limits of the category "mystic" and the mechanisms through which women were excluded or marginalized as participants.
Jantzen, Grace M. Becoming Divine: Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Religion. Manchester, U.K., 1998.
Johnson, Jay E. "Searching for Religious Eroticism: The Solitary and the Ocular in Gay Religious Studies." Theology and Sexuality: The Journal of the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality 16 (2002): 45–53.
Joy, Morny, Kathleen O'Grady, and Judith L. Poxon, eds. French Feminists on Religion: A Reader. London and New York, 2002.
Joy, Morny, Kathleen O'Grady and Judith L. Poxon, eds. Religion in French Feminist Thought: Critical Perspectives. London and New York, 2003.
Kimmel, Michael S., ed. Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity. Newbury Park, Calif., 1987. A useful collection of essays exploring what was once new research on men and masculinity within academic disciplines. It contributes to the demarcation of the new field of men's studies and to the analysis of masculinity within traditional academic disciplines. It addresses methodological issues and suggests future directions for men's studies.
King, Richard. Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India, and "the Mystic East." London, 1999.
King, Ursula. Women and Spirituality: Voices of Protest and Promise. Basingstoke, U.K., and London, 1989. A wide-ranging account of women's contradictory and creative relationship with a broad range of religious traditions.
King, Ursula. "Religion and Gender." In Turning Points in Religious Studies, edited by Ursula King, pp. 275–286. Edinburgh, 1990a.
King, Ursula. "Women Scholars and the Encyclopedia of Religion. " Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 2 (1990b): 91–97.
King, Ursula, ed. Women in the World's Religions, Past and Present. New York, 1987.
King, Ursula, ed. Religion and Gender. Oxford and Cambridge, Mass., 1995.
King, Ursula, and Tina Beattie, eds. Gender, Religion, and Diversity: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. London and New York, 2004.
Langland, Elizabeth, and Walter Gove, eds. A Feminist Perspective in the Academy: The Difference It Makes. Chicago and London, 1983.
McCutcheon, Russell T. Manufacturing Religion: The Discourse on Sui Generis Religion and the Politics of Nostalgia. New York and Oxford, 1997.
Millet, Kate. Sexual Politics. Garden City, N.Y., 1970.
Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses." In Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres, pp. 51–80. Bloomington, Ind., 1991.
Monti, Alessandro, ed. Hindu Masculinities across the Ages: Updating the Past. Turin, Italy, 2002.
Moore, Stephen D. God's Beauty Parlor: And Other Queer Spaces in and around the Bible. Stanford, Calif., 2001. Examines themes of masculinity, beauty, homoeroticism, and violence in the Bible, particularly the Song of Solomon, the Gospels, Romans, and Revelation.
Myron, Nancy, and Charlotte Bunch, eds. Lesbianism and the Women's Movement. Baltimore, 1975.
Neitz, Mary Jo. "Queering the Dragonfest: Changing Sexualities in a Post-Patriarchal Religion." Sociology of Religion 61 (2000): 369–391.
O'Connor, June. "Rereading, Reconceiving, and Reconstructing Traditions: Feminist Research in Religion." Women's Studies 17 (1989): 101–123.
Paul, Diana Y. Women in Buddhism: Images of the Feminine in the Mahāyāna Tradition. Berkeley, Calif., 1979.
Plaskow, Judith. Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective. San Francisco, 1990. A feminist critique of Judaism and an examination of the increasing role of women in shaping Jewish tradition.
Plaskow, Judith, and Carol P. Christ. Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality. San Francisco, 1989. Follows up the successful Womenspirit Rising with an impressive collection of essays that demonstrate the breadth of feminist theological scholarship.
Plaskow, Judith, and Joan A. Romero, eds. Women and Religion. Rev. ed. Missoula, 1974.
Putney, Clifford. Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880–1920. Cambridge, Mass., 2001. Charts the relationship between Protestantism and sports in the United States and surveys a variety of attempts to make Christianity seem more manly from 1880 to 1920.
Raines, John C. Justice Men Owe Women: Positive Resources from World Religions. Minneapolis, 2001. Examines ten purportedly patriarchal world religious traditions to reflect on gender injustices, showing that each of the traditions has a strong commitment to social justice, and argues that these used to advance equitable relations between the genders.
Rogers, Eugene F., Jr., ed. Theology and Sexuality: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford, 2002. Draws on a wide range of resources and brings together a collection of essays by leading scholars to examine debates about theology and sexuality. Material is drawn from a variety of ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary texts to provide readers with a broad perspective on sexuality in the Christian tradition.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford. To Change the World: Christology and Cultural Criticism. New York, 1981. Ruether offers reflections on Christology as a critical lens through which to view contemporary culture, viewing Christ as an iconoclastic prophet whose teachings elicit a commitment to the eradication of poverty, anti-Semitism, and gender-based oppression.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford. "The Feminist Critique in Religious Studies." In A Feminist Perspective in the Academy: The Difference It Makes, edited by Elizabeth Langland and Walter Gove, pp. 52–66. Chicago and London, 1983a.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. London, 1983b. Presents a revision of theological themes from a feminist perspective, including the use of male and female images of the divine in worship; the relationship between images of women, the body, and nature in Greek, Hebrew, and Christian thinking; and a new woman-centered look at images of both Christ and Mary.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford. "Androcentrism." In The Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by Mircea Eliade, vol. 1, pp. 272–276. New York and London, 1987.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford, ed. Religion and Sexism: Images of Woman in the Jewish and Christian Traditions. New York, 1974. A classic collection of essays that show the role of the Jewish and Christian traditions in shaping the social and cultural norms that have degraded and suppressed women.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford, comp. Womanguides: Readings Toward a Feminist Theology. Boston, 1985. A classic collection of readings from Jewish, Christian, Greek, Gnostic, Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian religious literature that seeks to contextualize ideas about gender in the Christian tradition and to show alternative models that could empower women.
Ruether, Rosemary Radford, and Eleanor McLaughlin, eds. Women of Spirit: Female Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions. New York, 1979.
Sanday, Peggy Reeves, and Ruth Gallagher Goodenough, eds. Beyond the Second Sex: New Directions in the Anthropology of Gender. Philadelphia, 1990.
Schippert, Claudia. "Too Much Trouble? Negotiating Feminist and Queer Approaches in Religion." Theology and Sexuality: The Journal of the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality 11 (1999): 44–63.
Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. New York, 1983. Traces the origins of Christianity through the lens of contemporary feminist assumptions and is aimed at challenging deeply embedded assumptions about biblical texts, and religious authority. Schüssler Fiorenza compares the letters of Peter and Paul, which insist on the submission of women, to the writers of the Gospels, who emphasize love and service as the essence of spiritual life. The picture that emerges is one in which women played active and important roles during the early stages of Christianity.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley, Calif., 1990. Offers a literary analysis of some of the classic texts of European and American literature, mapping the historical moment in which sexual identity became as important a marker of subjectivity as gender identity was. Sedgwick shows how the categories of "homosexual" and "heterosexual" continue to shape almost all aspects of contemporary thought.
Shallenberger, David. Reclaiming the Spirit: Gay Men and Lesbians Come to Terms with Religion. New Brunswick, N.J., and London, 1998. A useful study based on interviews with twenty-six gay men and lesbians from Chicago who discuss their family backgrounds, their early religious and spiritual experiences, and how identifying themselves as gay or lesbian impacted their spiritual lives.
Sharma, Arvind, ed. Women in World Religions. Albany, N.Y., 1987.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. The Woman's Bible: The Original Feminist Attack on the Bible (1895–1898). Edinburgh, 1986.
Stuart, Elizabeth. Religion Is a Queer Thing: A Guide to the Christian Faith for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People. London, 1997. An accessible introduction to queer theology that is aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people who are either new to Christianity or who are interested in investigating theology from a queer perspective.
Trible, Phyllis. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Philadelphia, 1978. A study of important biblical themes, through careful textual analysis of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, that are of special interest to feminists.
Ware, Vron. Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism, and History. London and New York, 1992.
Warne, Randi R. "Toward a Brave New Paradigm: The Impact of Women's Studies on Religious Studies." Religious Studies and Theology 9 (1989): 35–46.
Warner, Michael. The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. New York, 1999. Warner argues against the heterosexual status quo that promotes marriage as the ideal, suggesting that gay marriage and other moves toward normalcy simply serve to reinforce social norms that ensure that gay and lesbian sexualities are marginalized. Instead, he offers a new model of sexual autonomy that seeks to change the way people think about sex, shame, and identity.
Wood, Juliette. "The Concept of the Goddess." In The Concept of the Goddess, edited by Sandra Billington and Miranda Green, pp. 8–25. London, 1996.
SÎan Hawthorne (2005)