Presentation on theme: "Perverse Piety: Criticism of Christian Extremism in The Handmaid’s Tale, The Gate to Women’s Country, and The Fifth Sacred Thing Whitney Scott Honors Thesis."— Presentation transcript:
Perverse Piety: Criticism of Christian Extremism in The Handmaid’s Tale, The Gate to Women’s Country, and The Fifth Sacred Thing Whitney Scott Honors Thesis Ferrum College April 28, 2011
Roadmap Project Thesis Disparity between feminism and Christianity Historical context Extremism Extremism in novels
Presumed World vs. Proposed World (Wilson 77)
Perverse Piety: the Thesis Religious values and political agendas Perversion of something intended to be pious Oppression of subordinates Oppression of leaders
(Gallagher 458) Disparity between feminism and Christianity
(Gallagher 459) Disparity between feminism and Christianity
(Steiner-Aeschliman and Mauss 254) Disparity between feminism and Christianity
Are feminism and Christianity mutually exclusive? Denise Carmody Virginia Mollenkott Leah Gcabashe Time frame
Historical Context: Backlash Women’s movement, 1960s Feminist legislate victories, 1970s Rise of anti-feminism, 1970s By 1980s: New Right Silent Majority Moral Majority (Chafe) (Harris) (Wilcox) “periods of anticipation and anxiety” (Bartowski)
Tendencies of Political Extremism “An impulse which is inimical to a pluralism of interests and groups, inimical to a system of many nonsubmissive centers of power and areas of privacy” Incipient change Moralistic and absolutistic Evil conspiracies (Lipset and Raab 5) Concrete thinking Status symbolism Status preservation (Lo)
Tendencies of Religious Extremism Tendencies of religious extremism Five warning signs: Absolute truth claims Blind obedience Ideal time Ends justify the means Holy war Literalism (Kimball)
Synthesis of political and religious extremism PoliticalReligious Moralistic/absolutistic Concrete thinking Incipient change Status symbolism Status preservation Evil conspiracies Absolute truth claims Literalism Blind obedience Ends justify the means Ideal time Holy war
How to express in fiction? “There was little that was truly original or indigenous to Gilead: its genius was synthesis” (Atwood 307) Based on reality Reality vs. fiction; non-extreme vs. extreme Setting Climate (convenience) Time (prediction) (Olderman) (Swale)
Gilead Gender roles Women as servants Women as reproductive vessels Sexual purity Punish deviant behavior The Wall Salvagings Particicutions
Gilead cont. Manifestations of extremismWhy? Gender roles Women as servants Women as reproductive vessels Sexual purity Punish deviant behavior Incipient change Concrete thinking Anti-modernism Literalism Moralism Status preservation (eugenics)
And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her, and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. -Genesis 30:1-3
The Perverse Justified Ends justify the means Literalism Blind obedience Perverse piety Handmaiden demeanor Sex as ritual
Holyland Gender roles Women as servants Women as reproductive vessels Women as “virtuous” Sexual purity Punish deviant behavior Infanticide Beatings
Holyland Manifestations of extremismWhy? Gender roles Women as servants Women as reproductive vessels Women as “virtuous” Sexual purity Punish deviant behavior Infanticide Beatings Incipient change Concrete thinking Anti-modernism Moralism Status preservation (eugenics)
“He counted on his fingers. Seven from Rejoice, all grown but one. Four from Cheerfulness, the oldest was only nine, and two from Plentitude. Six from Susannah, not including the ones he’d disposed of. Nineteen, all together, fourteen of them boys. Could be that was just enough…” -Elder Resolution Brome, 205
The Perverse Justified Ends justify the means Blind obedience Evil conspiracy Perverse piety Feminine demeanor Sex as ritual
The Millennialist Society Gender roles Women as reproductive vessels Women as “virtuous” Sexual purity Punish deviant behavior Military “Pens” Why?
The Millennialist Society Manifestations of extremismWhy? Gender roles Women as reproductive vessels Women as “virtuous” Sexual purity Punish deviant behavior Military “Pens” Incipient change Concrete thinking Anti-modernism Moralism Status preservation (eugenics)
“I thought fornication was the biggest Millennialist sin,” Madrone said. “Fornication is what you do with another person. We’re not people. Our mamas did something to lose their immortal souls, like getting raped, maybe, or selling their bodies to put some food on the table. And our holy genes have been tampered with. That makes us a sort of higher animal.” “That’s insane.” “Nobody ever rated the Millennialists high in sanity.” -Madrone and Isis (Starhawk 186)
“The blonds. They were toys for rich men. Bred for it. Raised and trained from birth. For sex and pain.” -Katy (Starhawk 303)
The Perverse Justified Ends justify the means Literalism Concrete thinking Blind obedience Perverse piety “Letter” of morality
“Like feminism, utopias are intended to bring about shifts in consciousness through engagement with political debates and critiques of the status quo.” (Eichler 9)
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Works Cited Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid ’ s Tale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, Print. Bartowski, Frances. Introduction. Feminist Utopias. Ed. Frances Bartowski. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, Print. Carmody, Denise Lardner. Feminism and Christianity: A Two-Way Reflection. Nashville: Abingdon, Print. Chafe, William H. The Paradox of Change: American Women in the 20 th Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Print. Eichler, Margrit, June Larkin, and Sheila Neysmith. Introduction.Feminist Utopias : Re-Visioning Our Futures. Eds. Margrit Eichler, June Larkin, and Sheila Neysmith. Toronto: Inanna Publications and Education, Print. Gallagher, Sally K. “Where Are the Antifeminist Evangelicals? Evangelical Identity, Subcultural Location and Attitudes Toward Feminism.” Gender and Society 18.4 (August 2004): Web. JSTOR. 11 November Gcabashe, Leah. “Spiritual Liberation or Spiritual Oppression?” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity 25 (1995): 7-15.JSTOR. Web. 11 November Kimball, Charles. When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Print.
Lipset, Seymour Martin and Earl Raab. The Politics of Unreason: Right-Wing Extremism in America, New York: Harper & Row, Lo, Clarence Y. H. “Countermovements and Conservative Movements in the Contemporary United - States.” Annual Review of Sociology 8 (1982): Web. JSTOR. 11 November Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey. Women, Men, and The Bible. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, Print. Olderman, Raymond M. “American Fiction : The People Who Fell to Earth.” Contemporary Literature 19.4 (Autumn 1978): Web. JSTOR. 11 November Starhawk. The Fifth Sacred Thing. New York: Bantam Books, Print. Steiner-Aeschliman, Sherrie and Armand L. Mauss. “The Impact of Feminism and Religious Involvement on Sentiment toward God.”Review of Religious Research 37.3 (March 1996): Web.JSTOR. 11 November Swale, Jill. “Feminism and Politics in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Jill Swale Examines the Social and Historical Context of the Novel.”The English Review 13.1 (September 2002): 37. Web. Literature Resource Center. 11 November Tepper, Sheri S. The Gate to Women ’ s Country. New York: Bantam Books, Print. Wilcox, Clyde. “Pre-millennialists at the Millennium: Some Reflections on the Christian Right in the Twenty- First Century.”Sociology of Religion 55.3 (Autumn 1994): Web. JSTOR. 11 November 2010.