Weaving the Fabric of Our Lives

  • Carol P. Christ


In a recent issue of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Jewish feminist historian Miriam Peskowitz criticized the metaphor of weaving in feminist work in religion. According to Peskowitz, “Within feminist discourse on religion, and particularly within theological and theoretical writings, the trope of female weaving is spiritualized so that it can refer to [just about any] particularly female or feminist or feminine activities, religiosities, intellectual enterprises, modes of relation.” She notes that the popularity of the metaphor “comes, in part, from feminist desires to interrupt a masculine intellectual culture with ‘female’ imagery.”1 She argues further that we can learn a (negative) meaning of the image of weaving by studying the Roman literary image of Penelope: “Among Roman-period authors of written text, ‘Penelope’ and ‘the female weaver’ come to stand for women who are loyal to husbands, families, and to the idea of the Roman empire.”2


Feminist Study Repetitive Work Feminist Discourse Traditional Woman Feminist Work 
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  1. 1.
    Miriam Peskowitz, in “Roundtable Discussion: What’s in a Name? Exploring the Dimensions of What Feminist Studies in Religion Means,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 11, no. 1 (Spring 1995), 112. Quotation on p. 30 of this book.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Barbry MyOwn and Hallie Mountain Wing, “A Ritual Celebration,” Woman-spirit 2, no. 5 (Fall Equinox 1975), 27.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times (New York: Norton, 1995).Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Eleftheros Pavlides and Jana Hesser, “Women’s Roles and House Form and Decoration in Eressos, Greece,” in Gender and Power in Rural Greece, ed. Jill Dubisch (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 91.Google Scholar

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© Elizabeth A. Castelli 2001

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  • Carol P. Christ

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