Take and Eat: Eve, Mary, and Feminist Christianity

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Martha Diede, Director of Coulter Faculty Commons (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/

Abstract: In current critical discussions, much ink covers women's bodies, and much of this discussion centers on the ways in which women's bodies are constructed by the phallocentric language that writers use to describe them. Indeed, the literary history of women's bodies in language has problematized pregnancy, lactation, menstruation, and sexual desirability.Critical discussion includes Bynum's study of medieval women and food in Holy Feast, Holy Fast (1987), Bell's examination of Italian saints in Holy Anorexia (1985), extended discussions of female mystics, and discussions of individual works, such as Laura Esquivel's Like Water.for Chocolate and Toni Morrison's Beloved. Yet few theorists have addressed the connection between women and food as a widespread literary phenomenon(Magid, 2008; Heller and Moran, 2003). The persistent comparison of women to Eve or to Mary - and women's position between the two examples - is now commonly recognized in feminist thinking (Wil1iamsand Echols, 1994). Although Eve's sin was appetite and Mary's virtue was(sexual) abstinence, most considerations of women and their bodies relate in some way to the sexual: early feminists argue for female capability to do much more than produce d1ildren (see the introduction to Freedman,2007), and second and third wave feminists argue for separate study of women's bodies and experiences.1 While important lines of inquiry, these kinds of scholarship point to reproductive function as a touchstone, and such an approach deserves reconsideration. Instead of focusing on the sexual nature of Mary's virtue and its seemingly easy contrast to Eve's reckless eating, critics might reconsider the relationship between women,appetite, and food. Thinking of food as a location of female power and pleasure, the recognition of which has long been denied to women, scholars might offer new insights into the struggle that women historically have had (and many women still do have) with food and sustenance.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
religion, christianity, gender, gender studies, literature

Email this document to