Feminism and the Future of Religion

… presented as a paper for the National Socialist Conference Sydney, 1990 – but if I didn’t tell you, you may think it was written yesterday … 🙂

Glenys Livingstone Ph.D.


By Glenys Livingstone

published in full at The Girl God blog

The essay begins:

Feminism/the uprising of women continues to chip away at patriarchal religions worldwide. Though the inroads may be small in some places, they are significant. The stone face of the Father continues to be chiselled into. Though there is backlash and resistance to it, it does seem that once a woman has begun the journey Home there is no turning back.

and continues later:

This is not to deny the very strong and often barbaric foothold that patriarchal religions still have in the lives of millions of women. Whereas in western christianity, misogynism reached its frenzied peak in the Burning Times of the Middle Ages; in other very powerful world religions today, misogynism is still peaking. That is, we must understand that in some religions the “Burning Times” are still in effect, and indeed it is carried out in this very country. Females today are being mutilated, incarcerated, and murdered as a matter of routine religious practice. And precious little is done to stop it, since it comes under the “sanctity” of religious “freedom”. These religions will require much more disruption from within before anything will change; and it does have to come from believers, those who understand the particular inner workings of their tradition and who indeed are sincerely motivated to move their religious tradition out of what they believe to be, the corrupt interpretations of their founder’s teachings and mystical insights. Whether in fact the original founding insight was “gender- wholistic”, or if this is just the pie-eyed hope of the reforming believers does not really matter. What does really matter is that the foot is lifted off women’s necks. The work and vision of the reforming believers is essential, if the religious consciousness of their group is to evolve, that is to broaden and deepen, to take into account the divinity of the female. Of course, feminism in religion does not mean merely reforming/changing rules and laws that will hold otherwise dominating forces and individuals in check. It is not merely concerned with changing outward practices, but in the cases of suttee, genital mutilation, the withholding of contraception, stoning, and the imprisonment of rape victims , such a change would go a long way.

© Glenys Livingstone Ph.D.

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