Womanspirit Still Rising? Some Feminist Reflections on ‘Religious Education’ in the UK


Jasper A (2015) Womanspirit Still Rising? Some Feminist Reflections on ‘Religious Education’ in the UK. Feminist Theology, 23 (3), pp. 240-253.

It is a complex and sometimes frustrating business to effect change that is in accordance with recognizably feminist principles in the world as it is and we inevitably risk confrontation, misunderstanding and compromise. In this paper I consider some of the complexities and obstacles to effecting feminist-friendly changes in educational spaces with specific reference to the field of teaching most familiar to a majority of us – Religion/Religious Studies or Theology and Religious Studies (TRS). I suggest an approach to change based on the mobilization of spirituality – characterized as becoming – as one metaphor that has been grasped to effect in the past by pioneers such as Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow to bring about changes in the western theological academy. This imaginative work has itself generated resistance and critique from scholars of religion and some feminists, but remains, I believe, one fruitful starting point for thinking through what needs to change in educational spaces identified as ‘religious’, and how to avoid the gendered traps that are laid for us in the process. Primarily these are traps that frustrate our abilities to explore the widest possibilities of difference/s and lead us back into the constrictions of sameness – here, that state of being tied either to a historical view of Christianity that privileges a disembodied, masculine, monotheistic God or to a post enlightenment view that privileges a disembodied, so-called ‘secular’ masculine rationality that just as fearfully excludes the Otherness of the feminine and all she represents.

Feminism; religion; spirituality; teaching religious studies

Feminist Theology: Volume 23, Issue 3

Publication date31/05/2015
Date accepted by journal01/06/2014