Women become genuinely human with the ending of patriarchy
Contemporary feminist theology finds its historical roots with those who question authors of sacred texts and those who challenge theologians who defined what it meant to be a human being from the perspective of patriarchal, male experience. Women, it is argued, will only become truly human, with the ending of patriarchy. Surveying the field of academic theology, many would argue that it is and has been a male-defined project. Theology means study of God; the word Theo is a masculine form. Some feminists today prefer to speak of study of Thea – feminine form – hence theology. They regard themselves as continuing a prophetic tradition of calling believers back to authentic religion in this case a renunciation of sexism. Others view the Christian tradition as so hopelessly compromised that the only solution is an exodus out of patriarchal religion to the older goddess tradition of pre-Jewish/Christian paganism. Such thinking was adapted from Germanic romantic anthropological theories that imagined matriarchy as a universal state of civilization before patriarchy
The nineteenth century saw the beginnings of feminist theology, as part of the natural outworking of the feminist movement. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Woman’s Bible was published in 1895 and 1898. Just as equal rights for women were demanded in terms of education, employment and the law, so also equal rights were sought in the Church. By the time of Vatican II, many people argued that because in many sections of the Church women could not be ordained the Church was sexist and should reform. The feminist biblical theologians of today are from a liberal reformist feminist tradition – which historically minimised the differences between the sexes and argued for equal opportunities in the Church. Feminist post-biblical theologians are more likely to feel affinity with radical romantic feminists, who are comfortable celebrating the differences between the sexes. Many would argue for gender neutral language to be used in translating the Bible, and some would maintain that there is mutual subordination within the Trinity.
‘Feminist theology is not limited to the Christian tradition. Jewish and Islamic feminist theologians also examine the patriarchal assumptions that support the subordination and oppression of women’
reference: Feminist theology – Encyclopedia of Science and Religion
image: Adam and Eve – Lucas Cranach the Elder 1528, The Creation of Adam – Michelangelo 1511