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Feminist spirituality - Enough For Us All - Dr. Dorothy Riddle

Feminist spirituality

Feminist spirituality became a particular focus in the 1970s as feminists began to question the patriarchal structure and imagery of traditional religions. What does feminism have to do with spirituality? I would argue that feminism, in its essence, is an analytical lens. Its purpose is to expose attitudes, beliefs, and practices that imprison us within dualistic gender role stereotypes and that result in sexism and misogyny. If we are to shift attitudes and behaviors, we must identify and change the fundamental beliefs that hold those attitudes and behaviors in place – and they are embedded in, or ultimately justified by, the worldview formed from spiritual teachings. So it becomes critical to examine our underlying belief structure regarding the nature of reality, our relationship to a larger cosmos or deity, and our purpose on this planet – and to do so through a feminist lens.

The following are eleven questions that can provide a feminism analytical framework of spiritual teachings, ranging from the very obvious to the not so obvious:

  1. Are legal rights mandated as equitable among all adults?
  2. Is the language used inclusive, non-theist, and respectful of all persons?
  3. Are the experiences of all groups represented equitably in the teachings?
  4. Are women viewed respectfully as mature adults with a mandate to address the actual inequities and discrimination that exist?
  5. Which personality traits are valued?
  6. What is the ideal working relationship portrayed and reinforced?
  7. Who is described as responsible for nurturance and emotional and domestic support?
  8. Are valued skills assumed to the gender-neutral or gender-linked?
  9. How is “creativity” defined and ascribed?
  10. How are same sex relationships viewed?
  11. Is the Transcendent assumed to be external to individuals (thus reinforcing a basic dualism)?

Articles by Dorothy I. Riddle:

  • What Is Feminist Spirituality, and Why Should We Care?” (January 2008)
  • Language and Unity” (Sharing, 1974, 10-11)
  • “New Visions of Spiritual Power” (Quest: A Feminist Quarterly, 1975, 1, no. 4, 7-16)
  • “Politics, Spirituality, and Models of Change” (in The Politics of Women’s Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement, Charlene Spretnak (ed.), 373-381, Garden City: Anchor Press, 1982)
  • “Spirituality and Politics” (WomanSpirit, 1976, 2, 10-12)