Having recently complained at length about the absolute lack of clarity in an article in Mark and Method edited by Anderson and Moore, it is only fair that coming upon an article that is exceptional I should likewise run to the blog to talk about it. Directly following the aforementioned article on Deconstruction is an article on Feminist Criticism. I will freely admit that my encounters with Feminist theology in the past have left an unsavory taste in my mouth, and frankly I was expecting to feel guilty and chastised through the whole reading of the text. (I am in fact an egalitarian, so I can’t read a scathing rebuke of interpretive patriarchy without feeling at least a tinge of guilt for my former complementary ways.)
What I discovered in Anderson’s article on Feminist Criticism was a well-structured easy-to-follow introduction to both the driving forces and approaches of Feminist Criticism. Anderson is unbelievably thorough for the amount of space she is given, and there is a notable lack of anger or bitterness. Instead, there is the polite and measured “this is how it has been and this is how it should be.” Make no mistake, she pulls no punches, but she makes her points without denigration or uncharitable language.
I found myself challenged and drawn by the alternate reading of the story of John’s beheading. The image provided by that telling of the story is of Herod’s young daughter dancing an innocent dance and Herod responding not out of lasciviousness but out of genuine parental love. It is artfully juxtaposed with male images of the daughter in paint and word. She is portrayed as reveling in the gore dripping from John’s head and as having an unrequited love for John which culminates in the final possession of his lips as they reside on her platter. Anderson’s probing of what this says about male interpreters and readers is gentle but firm, and now I ask myself, “What was it about that dance?” I highly recommend the article which can be read, as mentioned earlier, in Mark and Method, which I must say with the one exception has been quite stellar.