My feed

to access all these features

Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

A little festive treat for all us godless man-hating wicked harridans...

8 replies

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh · 18/12/2012 10:13

Food for thought, anyway.

OP posts:
snowshapes · 18/12/2012 11:03

This makes an interesting point but I think there is a historical fallacy in using modern day language (come etc) to explain the New Testament stories of the conception of Jesus.

There are many and complex (i.e. I don't really understand the nuances) theological debates about what this story means, the language it was told in, and how it should be interpreted, which vary depending on theological position taken (conservative to liberal).

I am not sure that 'the Virgin Mary was raped' really captures that complexity of meaning (given that there are theological explanations which suggest that virgin merely = young woman in the language of the time, and the idea of immaculate conception does not refer to the birth of Jesus but the fact that Mary was seen to be free of original sin).

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh · 18/12/2012 12:37

I'd agree with you about nuances of language being possibly tricky, given that I don't speak Aramaic/Ancient Hebrew and don't imagine that you do; text that has been translated many times may have lost its original meaning due to translator error, as well as the fact that all myths and folklore tales get edited due to the prevailing culture of the time whenever they are relaunched.

My own assumption regarding this story is that, if there was an individual young woman called Mary who had a baby around that time which she named Jesus (no definitive historical record of either of them) it's most likely that she was pregnant by someone other than her H and needed a good cover story. And what a belter she came up with.

OP posts:
rosabud · 18/12/2012 12:48

LOL!! I'm no scholarly expert on the subject but I think there is a school of thought which suggests that the idea of the virgin birth may have been empahisised and added after Jesus's death to ensure that his details tied in with what was seen as a requirement of the Messiah at the time.

I think trying to apply very modern thinking to this old story is as flawed as trying to impose very old thinking to a modern setting (such as when the church refuses to accept female bishops etc). Besides, the meaning of the story is not about obedience to a partner, it's about submitting to the will of God - which, if you do not believe in God, will not have a very great meaning for you at all.

snowshapes · 18/12/2012 13:06

SGF, no I am not versed in either Aramaic or Ancient Hebrew! I totally agree with you about texts being interpreted to reflect the prevailing culture of the time.

But thinking on DD's nativity, it was basically angel came to Mary and told her she was going to have a baby and that he would be the son of God - well, DD goes to a Catholic School and the teaching is very much that they are all the children of God, so in those terms, it is not really problematic.

That said, issues of consent are always to be borne in mind. DD's stepmother is expecting and she did ask me how babies got there, which, to my mind, was more of an opportunity to emphasise that both parents have to agree to create a baby than the nativity. IMO.

SantasBigBaubles · 18/12/2012 14:52

Found that both sexist and ridiculous. Reminds me of the websites made by the believers that 9/11 was an inside job.

Disappointing too because I think the story could be an allusion to rape or a rape victim's way of dealing with what happened. Instead you have a website full of crazy , rape jokes and "lol" pics.

LRDtheFeministDude · 19/12/2012 22:51

It's not written in Aramaic or Ancient Hebrew.

The New Testament is written in New Testament Greek. Which may be a translation of Aramaic words spoken by Mary, of course.

The bit about Mary being 'troubled' - yep, that bothers me too. I'm not convinced but I think it is a tricky bit to read nowadays and very important to make clear to women today that they should not ever feel that it's ok to be scared or bothered.

AFAIK, it is peculiar to English that the future tense sounds like a command (it's also grammatically incorrect to interpret even English 'you will' the way that article does). In grammatically correct English, 'you will' is the future tense and 'you shall' is a command. So that bit is bunk IMO.

The bit about 'ghosts' and 'spirits' - well, that seems a fair enough response to it! It's supernatural and therefore about as daft as the supernatural usually is.

The 'slave' bit - bollocks. That's offensive IMO. Slavery is a real thing, going on in parts of the world today. Translating incorrectly to pretend that's what 'handmaiden' means is not on.

'(Mary & Joseph) ?before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

~?Came together?? More sexual innuendo.'

Erm shit, Sherlock!

I'm not going through it all.

I've seen the reading of Mary's pregnancy as rape before and I think it is powerful and interesting and important. It is crucial that we understand how Christian culture normalizes messages about what women should be. But IMO that particular link shoots itself in the foot by being fairly shite.

Something I have a huge problem with, in this context, is the way Mary is held up as the ideal for all women. Little girls are taught they should aspire to be like Mary - that is, they should aspire to become pregnant without ever having sex, they should aspire never to have sex, and they should hope for a sexless marriage and for their child to die at an early age. That is just horrific.

Moreover, they're taught that they cannot be like Mary. They're set up to fail. They can be as messed up and conflicted about sex as they like - they will never be mothers and virgins so they can't win.

Likewise, men are taught that women are like this.

Instead we should be teaching men and women to enjoy sex, and to feel happy and fulfilled about it, whether or not they're becoming parents or getting married. We should be teaching realistic aspirations, not ideals.

allthegoodnamesweretaken · 20/12/2012 15:29

I watched a documentary on this a few years ago, it was arguing from a similar standpoint, but was a bit more sophisticated! I will try and find it.

allthegoodnamesweretaken · 20/12/2012 15:34

can't find the link, but it was a BBC documentary called 'the virgin mary'

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.