The baby and I were browsing the Christian theology section at the used bookstore, playing our usual game in which we try to find a book about the Gospels that’s not titled something like Gnostic Gospels, Hidden Gospels, Banned from the Bible, or The Wiccan Gospel of Christ. While losing this game yet again, I noticed a book called Alone of All Her Sex, which I snapped up, as I have yet to read a really good book on the Virgin Mary. However, after browsing through it a bit, I learned that the book portrays the cult of the Virgin Mary as one that harms womanhood by confining women to a static role of perfection and virtue.
Feminist theologians like Mary Daly argue that Christianity is inherently sexist because God is gendered masculine. (Well, God the Father and Jesus are gendered masculine. Scott Hahn has argued that the Holy Spirit is actually feminine, and many other Christians at least view it as genderless). How can women ever be respected, the feminist theologians thunder, if Christianity teaches that the most perfect being in the universe is male?
Well, counters Alice von Hildebrand, God may be male, but women at least have the Virgin Mary as a model of the greatest human who ever lived.
But evidently the Virgin Mary is oppressive precisely because she is great? Because her exalted, pedestalized status is something that non-immaculate women can never aspire to, thus leading to a backlash against us in the form of the virgin/whore dichotomy.
I wish feminist theologians would at least make up their minds. Do they want an exalted female in Christian theology, or not? If exaltation is oppressive, then they can’t exactly complain that Jesus wasn’t female.