Thursday, December 13, 2007

Can God Be a Feminist?

(Warning: Rambling ahead that is almost guaranteed to offend somebody. These are definitely thoughts-in-process, intended to begin a discussion, not end one.)

A discussion over at Shakesville in the comments from a post Melissa wrote regarding some of the GOP's presidential candidates and their differences over religion has got me to thinking, once again, about the relationship between the sorts of feminism I ascribe to, and my own atheism. For me, feminism and atheism are inextricably intertwined, but I understand that I am most likely in the minority in that regard. When I look at the tenets of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, I see so much misogyny. Of course, different people (and different denominations) find ways around the misogyny that burdens their main religious scriptures, and many people of different faiths do their best to reform their religion along feminist ideals.

But you have to do so much work to do so, it seems to me. You have to do a really interesting interpretive dance, for instance, to explain how the idea that, if you think your daughter is whoring around, you ought to take her out so that everybody can stone her to death:
...then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. Deuteronomy 22:21

I'm sure you can come up with Xtian interpretations of this that don't seem as misogynist, but why do the dance? At what point does one's faith itself come under scrutiny, rather than one's interpretation of that faith?

Are there any readers out there who agree with some of my feelings here? On the other hand, are there any readers out there who have come to feminism through religion? In what ways do you find your religion to be compatible with feminist principles? Incompatible? (He said, sounding like the short essay question on a feminism and religion class...)
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