Queering the Virgin/Whore Binary: The Virgin Mary, the Whore of Babylon, and Sexual Violence
The binary of the virgin/whore—which categorizes women into either sexless virgins or hyper-sexualized whores—has been drawn upon to justify and normalize certain acts of sexual violence. In order to radically deconstruct this binary, Teguh Wijaya Mulya juxtaposes two biblical characters who typically represent the virgin and the whore categories: the Virgin Mary (Luke 1) and the Whore of Babylon (Revelation 17). Wijaya Mulya explores the possibility that both of these characters are not situated at opposite ends of any virgin/whore binary; rather, they share similar characteristics. He first considers how both characters’ relationships with the divine might be understood as sexually violent. He then addresses the potentially idolatrous nature of their relationship with their adherents. Queering the dichotomized roles of virgin and whore, he argues that these prove to be fluid and unstable within different historical and social contexts. Based on this queer theological reflection, Wijaya Mulya argues that the virgin/whore binary is oversimplified and inadequate, as well as being a source of violence against women, whose situatedness within this binary renders them vulnerable to sexualized aggression.
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