In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, America witnessed what they called “second-wave feminism,” which was a political movement for the advancement of Women’s rights. Along with this change came a religious campaign called the Feminist Spirituality Movement. Up until this point, Women had recognized the inequality of genders in religious societies, and it was understood that being religious and being a feminist were mutually exclusive. However, the Feminist Spirituality Movement allowed for the pious woman to be regarded as a feminist, cultivating a religion that perpetuated feminist ideals of equality. Spiritual feminism rejects exclusively male images of the divine and male dominance in religion and other areas of life. The religion was formed under the idea that, “If God is male then the male is God.” This means that the image of a masculine transcendent God gives rise to patriarchal religious institutions. Spiritual feminists felt the need to replace the patriarchal religions they had rejected with a female-positive religious form. These forms are witchcraft, Eastern mysticism, goddess worship, animism, psychic healing, and other similar forms of female, natural, and polytheistic worship.
The beauty of Feminist Spirituality is its variety and flexibility, allowing for religious tolerance amongst feminists. Feminist spirituality is unique in that it has no organization or system of leadership, drawing from many different religions, yet answering to the expectations of none. Additionally, each spiritual feminist can possess a differing belief from another, while still claiming that it is authentic feminist spirituality. This is because feminist spirituality capitalizes on freedom and individuality, with its only condition being that virtually all practitioners of feminist spirituality view the religion as being integrally empowering to women. Essentially, whatever works to make a woman stronger can fall under feminist spirituality. While many forms of feminist spirituality center around female divinity, other forms focus on the equality of genders through gender unspecific entities, as well as through polytheistic gods and goddesses.
Feminist Spirituality combines politics and activism with theology, resulting in a religious avenue for women empowerment and gender equality. This is the ideal solution for those who wish to identify with a faith or belief system, but also do not want to sacrifice their feminist ideals. Feminist spirituality still persists, and is being reinforced by today’s new wave feminism and political turmoil.
Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America By Cynthia Eller