Women, Sacrifice, and Transcendence

  • Morny Joy


The relationship of women to the divine has been a troubled one in the majority of traditional religions. Women have been denied right of entry to the superior destiny that is associated with transcendence. They have also not been granted, until quite recently, and then only rarely and reluctantly in certain denominations, access to what I term “symbolic status.” By symbolic status, I intend to signify a parity of esteem that pertains either to being respected as a religious authority, or to being invested with a mode of religious agency that is most revered in a particular religion. The term, with its symbolic reference, has both psychoanalytic and religious resonances.1 The pertinent forms of access and religious agency would include the right to study, interpret, and teach sacred texts in their original languages, to officiate at sacred rituals, and to make decisions of a deliberative nature that would have practical applications for adherents of that religion. Such attributes and activities have been mainly the prerogative of men, and many religions still forbid women the means to attain such accomplishments and their accompanying recognition.


Sexual Difference Sexual Object Symbolic Status Religious Authority Symbolic Order 
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© Gillian Howie and J’annine Jobling 2009

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  • Morny Joy

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