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Religion, Theology and Self-Improvement Sundays: Women, Religion, Theology and Society Part 14

Not many people think of the connection between theology and the women's liberation and feminist movements. Far less consider the role that theology will play in the eventual liberation of women worldwide, particularly from the oppression of sexism. Last week we examined words from Mary Daly that demonstrated her belief that until feminists deal with questions of religion and theology their quest for true freedom will never reach its stated goals.

She wrote: "Feminists in the past have in a way been idolatrous about such objectives as the right to vote. Indeed, this right is due to women in justice and it is entirely understandable that feminists' energies were drained by the efforts needed to achieve even such a modicum of justice. But from the experience of such struggles we are in a position now to distrust token victories within a societal and structural framework that renders them almost meaningless. The new wave of feminism desperately needs to be not only many-faceted but cosmic and ultimately religious in its vision. This means reaching outward and inward toward the God beyond and beneath the gods who have stolen our identity."

Daly is among a small group of feminists who see their struggle as one for a self-concept and a search for identity that extends to the ultimate reality. With that aim in mind, Daly and other feminists, while critical of religion and its male-dominated institutions, do not defer to others on matters of human definition and a universal order in creation. This enables her to see political struggles for women's freedom as a means and not an end. In that sense, political struggles and societal advancement are only a step along the path of women's liberation but not the ultimate destination. This is a view shared by Minister Farrakhan.

In connection to the above-quoted words from Mary Daly consider the following, from an interview conducted a few years ago:

Brother Minister Jabril Muhammad: Brother Minister, would you say that warfare has had the effect of liberating women?

Minister Farrakhan: Yes. That has contributed toward her total liberation. In World War II, when the men were called to fight, the presence of women in factories to produce the weapons or ordinance of war showed that women could do effective work outside of the home. Women's suffrage in the last century has contributed to her coming out and becoming a partner in society. That push for her liberation has begun and it continues.

Where do the women's liberation and feminists movements intersect with the world of religion?

Cedric Muhammad

Sunday, February 4, 2001

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