Have you ever read a book that put all your jumbled thoughts into concrete statements for you? Well that is exactly what this book did for me. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter is, as the subtitle puts it, the story of a women's journey from the Christian tradition to the sacred feminine. I have been wanting to read this book for over four years now and I am really grateful that I didn't read it until now. If I would have picked this book up four years ago, I wouldn't have resonated as deeply with its message of feminine spiritual awakening as I did reading it in 2016. Four years ago I was just in the painful beginnings of waking up to my unique and valuable feminine self and I think the message in this book would have been overwhelming and perhaps a little frightening. With that being said, I highly recommend this book to those who are curious to know more about how being a feminist and a Christian can be a thing. However, I will recommend this book with caution; please try and read it with an open mind, open heart, and an honest look at where your theology comes from (*cough* mostly from a male dominated culture).
A quick disclaimer: I am not really one to be gentle in my views of feminism and I have little patience for those who need to be babied into the idea that women and men should be treated equally. To me, feminism is not something that is "up to debate;" it is an issue of justice, and, quite frankly, one of the only ways we will find peace in this world.
I bought this book at Powell's in Portland from their feminist theology section. I walked past six or seven tall cases of "regular" theology until I found the small, two shelf long section of feminist theology. Interesting how half the sky only has two shelves of a say in the study of the Divine. When I approached the teeny tiny section, two older women passed by and said "Feminist theology? How can that even be a thing?" Case in point. It is a thing because women are human beings who reflect the Divine, just as much as men do. It is a thing because women have minds and bodies and souls and a sexuality and pains and struggles and hopes, just as men do. It is a thing because in order for true gender equality to be actualized, the Divine must be symbolized as female as well as male.
A phrase I have found myself saying from time to time when I see how deeply embedded patriarchy is in the church:
"If I could have put the feeling into words, I would have said, 'God, how could you?'"
"Exclusive male imagery of the Divine not only instilled an imbalance within human consciousness, it legitimized patriarchal power in the culture at large. Here alone is enough reason to recover the Divine Feminine, for there is a real and undeniable connection between the repression of the feminine in our deity and the repression of women.”
“The question occurred to me: Well, if that's so, if the Divine is ultimately formless and genderless, what's the big deal? Why all this bother?
The bother is because we have no other way of speaking about the Absolute. We need forms and images. Without them we have no way of relating to the Divine. Symbol and image create a universal spiritual language. It's the language the soul understands.”
“. . . in the end, Goddess is just a word. It simply means the divine in female form.”
How the patriarchy contributes to not only the oppression of women, but also the earth:
"The word mother comes from the Latin word mater, which means matter, Mother and matter are both the stuff out of which everything is composed... both women and earth have been abused, raped, and disregarded... [Francis Bacon] said that the earth was a harlot and must be controlled. In other words, 'That's how I liked to see Mother Earth, on her knees.'
“But benevolent patriarchy is still patriarchy.”
Buy the book here
A few suggestions of other feminists readings:
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a great intro book and very short.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit is also a shorty but a goodie.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay is a good intersectional feminist read.