Womanist Thought: Freedom, Violence, and Sexual Embodiment

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Theologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 July 2024 | Viewed by 2529

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
Independent Scholar, Raleigh, NC, USA
Interests: womanist and feminist studies; theology; justice; violence and religion

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Guest Editor
Dean of Sisters Chapel, Spellman College, Atlanta, GA 30314, USA
Interests: philosophy; womanist theology; womanist thought; religion

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Guest Editor
New Testament and Greek, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Macon, GA 31207, USA
Interests: religion and philosophy; womanist theology; womanist thought

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fathers, husbands, and governments have deemed the right to control the minds, bodies, and freedoms of women in general and those bodies of Africana women in particular for millennia. The control exists as systematic, hegemonic dominance. Married with the philosophy of Tacitus, who posited Anglo-Saxon superiority (Germania, 98 CE), which merges with manifest destiny and exceptionalism, one intention of white supremacist patriarchal capitalistic misogyny (WSPCM) is to imprison the bodies of women of color, removing all freedom to think and control their bodies. Familial, political, and religious beliefs and doctrines have codified and reinscribed such control. Amid systemic oppression, Africana women have always protested such theft in myriad ways before the development of womanist thought and activism, building on the thought of Alice Walker. Womanist scholars at Union Theological Seminary of New York (USA) began to name the intersectional, systemic oppression and call for liberation in the 1980s. Today, the intersections include class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and ability. While begun in a Christian context in the United States, womanist scholarship/activism is interdisciplinary, interreligious, and global. The systemic, societal oppression exploding during enslavement that limited all freedom penetrates every facet of black women’s lives daily. Between sexual violence by religious leaders, obfuscations like the Moynihan Report (1965), salacious public imagery (e.g., Welfare Queens—Reagan 1976; Clinton 1992, Mammy, Jezebel), the rescinding of Roe v Wade (2022), attacks on public education, mass incarceration, and the ongoing erasure of social programming to support impoverished families, all spells a fear-mongering attack to control and use Africana women as cheap economic labor by any means necessary. This journal issue explores womanist thought and activism as scholars explore the meaning of black women’s freedom amid the intersectionalities of class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and ability as lived out amid white supremacist patriarchal capitalistic misogyny as violence targeting black female sexual bodies. The scope is interdisciplinary scholarship and activism, including rituals, multi-media, black women’s cultural artifacts (e.g., poetry, visual arts, music, and materiality) faith practices, sacred scriptures, and organized protest. The purpose of this volume is to heighten awareness about the conscious and unconscious, intentional and unintentional ways systems infringe upon and cause harm to the totality of black women’s lives and their sexual embodiment. Other issues include vocation, creative outlets, entrepreneurship/adjacent issues, self-defined family, birthing and birthing and reproductive rights, and access to health care as relates to freedom.

Relate to existing literature: Other media that may address these questions would be blogs, social media, online ministry, e.g., “the Unfit Christian”, including publications by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.

Prof. Dr. Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan
Dr. Neichelle Guidry
Dr. Angela N. Parker
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • womanist
  • justice
  • power
  • violence
  • sexual violence
  • freedom
  • legacy
  • activism
  • ritual
  • education
  • intersectionality

Published Papers (1 paper)

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18 pages, 293 KiB  
Overcoming the Violence of “Virtuous” Womanhood: Liberating Women from the Proverbs 31 Paradigm
by Lisa Allen-McLaurin
Religions 2023, 14(8), 1028; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14081028 - 10 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1962
“Who can find a virtuous woman?” (Prov. 31:10 KJV). My entire life, I have heard and read messages about the “virtuous” woman, as depicted in Proverbs 31:10–31. Though many herald this character as the standard for godly women, I find her portrayal problematic. [...] Read more.
“Who can find a virtuous woman?” (Prov. 31:10 KJV). My entire life, I have heard and read messages about the “virtuous” woman, as depicted in Proverbs 31:10–31. Though many herald this character as the standard for godly women, I find her portrayal problematic. She is depicted as a one-dimensional worker bee, never engaged in rest, recreation, or relationship building. Further, her spiritual location and formation go unmentioned. How did such a limited illustration become the religious paradigm by which women and girls are measured? At its root is white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalistic misogyny (WSPCM), employed in churches to consign women to “safe”, secondary status while still using them as workhorses and sources of income to keep institutions viable. Once internalized, women and girls bear the crushing weight of an unhealthy, unattainable achievement, struggling to become a fictitious, unrealistic figure. In this article, I refute the WSPCM interpretation of the Proverbs 31 woman as the standard for faithful, Spirit-filled women, offering instead a liberative paradigm grounded in womanist hermeneutics, ethics, and spirituality. This approach provides a critique of and corrective for the oppressive, erroneous, and dangerous interpretations of “virtue” and “womanhood” that do violence to female personhood, especially in the name of religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Womanist Thought: Freedom, Violence, and Sexual Embodiment)
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