Based on empirical research in a women’s shelter in São Paulo, Brazil, this article examines how ‘secular’ professionals and service users negotiate conservative Christian faith, gender roles and domestic violence. The article demonstrates how staff use theological arguments with feminist interpretations of religion, in order to better communicate with abused women of faith. A key finding is that both the religious service users and the ‘secular’ professionals discover it is not religion per se which allows for situations of violence, but rather the patriarchal way in which conservative Christianity is taught in some churches, ultimately functioning as a method of controlling women. Moreover, through feminist consciousness-raising and attention to women’s rights, some abused women of faith find ways of negotiating the violence they experience, leading to an understanding of it as both personal and political.
This article explores the experiences of women priests in the Church of England through the lens of Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence. Comparing acts of symbolic violence perpetrated against women in the priesthood with the categories of domestic abuse set out in the Duluth Wheel of Power model, I highlight how institutional discourses in the Church and relational interactions can hold hidden abuses based on how gender is constructed at the symbolic level. My intention is to show that the Church of England’s split structure, known as the two integrities, is a manifestation of religious discourse that frames women as differently human and that this fundamental view of gender perpetuates masculine domination and violence against women, often in unseen ways. My argument concludes with a call to better understand the nature of gendered symbolic violence and how religious institutions provide justification for and legitimisation of such violence.
Drawing on the Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project, ‘Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Archival and Oral History’, this paper explores the nature of women’s experiences in Ireland’s Magdalene laundries though the lens of forced work. I argue that the perceived nature of the work done by the women—productive, respectable, ‘women’s work’—significantly impacted on how the abusive nature of the laundries has been considered by official bodies and wider Irish society. This paper focuses on work done in these institutions and how it was viewed, using interviews from survivors and those who visited the laundries. By exploring the links between work and respectability, productivity and morality, with particular attention to the ways this plays out upon the bodies of women, this article argues for an understanding of this work as a violent and disciplinary process, designed to produce the desired Irish Catholic female body: docile and productive, penitential and obedient.
Complementarianism, that is, Christian teaching focusing on men’s leadership and women’s submission as an ideal pattern of relationships and gendered behaviour, has been identified both as a boundary marker with little lived currency and as a contributing factor in instances of intimate partner violence. This contradiction raises a question; does complementarianism have little felt effect or does it have significant—and violent—social consequences? In this article, drawing on Scott’s analysis of Secularism as discourse I consider complementarianism as a religio-political discourse. Through analysis of published church material and stories gathered through interviews with parishioners and church staff, I explore how complementarianism is constructed and implemented in the Sydney Anglican Diocese. I argue that complementarianism is not a distinctively Christian theology, but a discourse, or story, told in community which constructs orthodoxy and both creates and limits gendered and religious identity.