Feminist Perspectives on Religion: Karen Armstrong

Feminist Karen Armstrong argued that women were central to many spiritual traditions in early history.

She pointed out that in early history, there were very few effigies of male gods, while symbolic representations of the ‘Great Mother Goddess’ were numerous. In the Middle East, Asia and Europe, for example, archaeologists have uncovered numerous symbols of the Mother Goddess. One common representation is of the mother goddess as a naked pregnant women, which seems to place fertility as central to early spirituality.

Armstrong argues that female figures began to be written out of religion with the acceptance of monotheism. She suggests that this process originated with Yahweh, the god of Abraham, and writes…

‘[this] God of Israel would later become the God of the Christians and the Muslims, who all regard themselves as the spiritual offspring of Adam, the father of all believers’. 

Evaluation

This type of Feminist analysis seems to suggest that it is not necessarily religion itself that is patriarchal. Thus, unlike Marxist perspectives,  we do not need to eradicate religion in order to achieve female liberation. Rather, we, need to ‘get back’ to more female centered spiritual traditions and develop a female-focused spirituality.

 

 

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