focus of gender in light of current challenges
about feminism and theology may seem like a contradiction, which isn’t
surprising given the inequality between men and women: the structural
oppression of women, femicide, divorced couples, and discrimination against
homosexuals among others.
the fact that for decades women have been doing theology in our churches and
theological spaces, most of these spaces remain highly patriarchal, if not
downright misogynistic. The identities of women are fixed, formed around
constructions of gender and sexuality justified by a religious and theological
discourse which promotes the ideal woman as: virgin, submissive and servile.
From this dichotomy of macho men and servile women a whole system of inequality
and oppression based on gender has been constructed and continues to be maintained
in some ways to this day.
seems to be a field of men, despite the fact that women have been doing
theology for decades, and it is because within the pyramidal structure of the
Church we are outside the positions of power and decision making. Changing or
questioning the structures and ideologies of this system is not in the
interests of some male pastors, priests and theologians because it would weaken
the power they want to maintain. That is why we find so much resistance and
rejection to gender theories, because it is an approach that shows the unjust
inequalities and offers help to overcome them in order to build communities of
it emerged in the 1980s, feminist theology has been a theology articulated from
the marginalized experiences of women and at the same time a critique of the
patriarchal character of Theology. Based on realities and concrete experiences
of women, feminist theology was part of the feminist movement, sharing the
struggles for a social and political transformation, for equality, and
dignified conditions for all. Therefore, feminist theology is not a theology
only of women and for women, but is a theology that problematizes 'gender' and
therefore should be important to all.
Clarification of feminism and why it is important to
continue talking about feminism
Declaring oneself a feminist puts you in a position of
suspicion accompanied by images and prejudices such as being a macho dressed as
a woman, a lesbian, a woman who hates men, etc. However, national and
international news indicate that misogyny, oppression and violence against
women continue to be one of the biggest problems today at the global level.
times of capitalist expansion, new excluded groups are spreading with greater
speed and brutality, and among them are women. Social, political and economic
interests have created structures of inequality throughout the centuries. And
although thanks to the struggles of so many women - which have occurred
throughout history – there have been some changes achieved, there is still a
long way to go to have societies and communities of equals.
Women still belong to the most disadvantaged
group. They are the most affected by
violence, poverty and discrimination as well as by the ecological crisis. They
suffer from the effects of climate catastrophes, land grabbing and the
destruction of life's foundations. Faced with this situation it is imperative
to ask for new forms of solidarity including regional, national and
How can we, in these struggles for better living
conditions, dignity and equal rights, connect and share among all women, who
from different local contexts are organizing to promote processes of change
(for example, the 'Ni una menos' or Women's March)? How can we and should we be
part of this work as Christians?
Latin America, religion has sold itself out by having an important role in the
construction of gender legitimizing a patriarchal, capitalist and
heteronormative social and economic system. Therefore, doing a social analysis
we cannot leave out a religious analysis and a critical theological view.
It is also important to see the variety and diversity
of experiences of oppression, recognizing the same structures of inequality and
power behind them. Because at the core of talking about and analyzing gender
relations is talking about power relations.
conception of gender does not depend on an a-cultural biological determinism,
but rather on each culture and worldview, “in that sense, every society, every
community, every group and every person has a particular gender conception,
based on their own culture.” We learn from childhood to identify with
the worldview and conception of gender roles in our culture. Because in the
nation we live, as Simone de Beauvoir one of the first great women's rights
defenders said, “One isn’t born a woman, one becomes a woman.”
According to theologian Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza,
theology always has to do with dreams and visions of a more just and united
world; an issue that deeply touches humanity. For this reason, it is necessary to
articulate a de-patriarchicalization and decolonization from and with the women
who, in their daily struggles, face colonial, capitalist and patriarchal
are peasant women, indigenous, from popular urban sectors and also women who
question - from their individual and collective experience - colonial and
patriarchal relations; who fight together to overcome all kinds of oppression.
In this way “... feminism is not just another theory, it is a theory, a
conception, a worldview, a philosophy, a politics born from the most rebellious
women against patriarchy,” says
Bolivian Aymara, Julieta Paredes. Practically, feminism is a way of life, “a
new way of understanding life and human relations,” as theologian Ivone Gebara puts it.
reality of our world, challenges us to permanently relocate in different
senses, to leave the offices, the classrooms, the parishes, and place ourselves
in the 'street'. Displacement impacts us, we will have to move from traditional
spaces of religion and oppression and search for new spaces where more integral
and equal spiritualties can be lived.
the pluralities we have to construct new forms of heterogeneous and inclusive
communities of coexistence with all people, with nature, and between countries
and continents, and break down the mental as well as social, economic and
political barriers and hierarchies.
nourishes us is a spirituality of resistance and rebellion fueled by the sharing
of realities and daily struggles, of solidarity and sisterhood. This
spirituality is made real through action, a collective and diverse expression
that seeks to build new relationships and another world of which we all dream.
This is the only way we will we be able to offer
relevant contributions to the questions and problems that people live today.
Because the discipleship and following of Jesus requires us to be part of the
processes towards equality and justice.
Questions for reflection:
· What would it mean to decolonize and
· What does it mean to do theology from our
context, our social and pastoral commitments?
· For what would I want to make a
Lassak holds a Doctorate in Theology