Monday, November 17, 2014

Women and Genesis Final Project Proposal

(sources from previous revisions will be used)

1)     Muñoz Boudet, Ana  María, Petesch, Patti, and Turk, Carolyn. On Norms and Agency : Conversations about Gender Equality with Women and Men in 20 Countries. Herndon, VA, USA: World Bank Publications, 2013. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 15 November 2014.
I plan to use this to define empowerment and explain how it fits with motherhood.
             2)          Ruether, Rosemary Radford. "Feminism and Patriarchal Religion: Principles of Ideological Critique of the Bible." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 22.1 (1982): 54-66.
I plan to use this to talk about feminism and religion and how the two ideas interact.    
      3)      Hoffnung, Michele. "Teaching about Motherhood: Revisioning Family." Psychology of Women Quarterly 35.2 (2011): 327-30.
I plan to use this source to talk about the interaction between feminism and motherhood.

Main Argument:
 Crumb argues, and as a female I also argue, that by occupying motherly roles, women of the Bible are made to be just as important (if not more important) than their male counterparts. By arguing this point, it is possible to view women of the Bible in a more positive light, and thusly to view the role of stay at home mothers in modern society as empowering rather than frowned upon.

            The counterargument for my argument would be that the women in the Bible seem submissive, and that by being mothers they are simply helping their husbands fulfill their destiny while neglecting their own importance.

Why we should Care:
Readers should care about this argument because this analysis of Crumb’s work could change the way women’s roles are viewed in modern society. Over the past years, women have been pushed away from the role of stay at home mom. We have been urged to get jobs and support the family; to be independent of our husbands. While independence is a very important quality, I do not believe the only way to achieve independence is though a traditional job in the workforce. That is certainly one way to achieve it, and many women (including myself) choose that path, but I do believe that motherhood offers its own independence and familial support. Just because a woman (or man for that matter) stays at home with the children does not mean their role in the family is any less valuable, nor does it make them submissive to the other spouse. As depicted in Crumb’s illustrations, the role of motherhood in the Bible is actually a very important one. Women who were mothers often had a great deal of influence on their husbands and on the decisions of the family. For many people, the Bible is used as a way to define the roles of men and women in modern society; if we change the way these roles are viewed in the Bible, we can change the way the roles are viewed in society.

Info to keep:
1)      Keep most of the analyses of the characters in the Book of Genesis
a.       Lot’s daughter’s: delve more deeply into how they may go against my argument…they slept with their father to have kids…essentially they gave up their dignity to bear children; compare and contrast that with modern feminism
b.      Delve more deeply into Rebekah’s character upon first meeting her. She seems very subservient…is that a detriment to her later character analysis?
c.       Rachel and Leah fight with each other over who can bear more children so they can please their husbands…delve deeper into this.
2)      Keep the analysis of the way crumb draws women
a.       Contrast this with some of his other work involving women. Does my argument still stand? Aka, does he draw these women differently than in some of his other work, if he does, does it support what I am saying?
b.      What are Crumb’s views on women outside of his work? include and analyze some of these views in regards to my argument.
Info to add:
1)      Talk about the “typical” view of women in the bible. How does this differ from the way Crumb or I see it?
2)      Include research and analysis on feminism and motherhood. Does the ability to bear children affect the way women are treated? If so, is it warranted or is it completely irrational?
                                                                          i.      What would feminists say?
1.      (see research #4)
                                                                        ii.      What would Crumb say?
1.      Crumb may argue that women should be treated differently, but with respect, based on his portrayal of Dinah. In Genesis, Dinah is (probably) raped by Shechem, Son of Hamor the Hivite Prince. Readers see that after the rape, Dinah’s brothers take revenge by killing Shechem and all the men of the city, and taking their sister back. In the end of the story Jacob is upset with his sons for their actions but Simon and Levi say “like a whore should our sister be treated?!” (chapter 34). In this story, readers see that Dinah was treated by shechem with the utmost disrespect and in turn, he was killed. Had Dinah been a man, her brothers would not care about Shechem’s actions. But Dinah is a female. She has childbearing capabilities and Shechem exploited her (and essentially them though no child was mentioned). Also, the fact Dinah does not bear a child after this indicates that perhaps the unfair treatment she receives bars her from having children and continuing Shechem’s lineage.
                                                                      iii.      What would the women of the Bible say?
b.      Talk about the fact that the choice to be a mother is a huge part of what makes motherhood empowering.

     1)      “Kabeer (2001, 19) defines empowerment as the “expansion in people’s ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability was previously denied to them.”
     This quote can be used to talk about how motherhood fits into this definition of empowerment. I plan to use Lot’s daughters as an example of this. They made very “strategic life choice” in a situation where they felt they had very few other options. They took charge of their future by deciding what they wanted (children to keep the human race alive) and taking action towards achieving their goals where it seemed impossible (it seemed impossible because they believed there to be no one else on earth at the time).
Muñoz Boudet, Ana  María, Petesch, Patti, and Turk, Carolyn. On Norms and Agency : Conversations about Gender Equality with Women and Men in 20 Countries. Herndon, VA, USA: World Bank Publications, 2013. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 15 November 2014.
      2)      “No one who is truly a feminist can find any authentic meaning for herself within the context of these traditions. To do so is sheer masochism and dependency. Feminists must purge themselves of all traces of adherence to these religions and turn to alternative woman's religions.”

This quote shows how many feminists view the bible. They believe that there is no way they can find any value or self-worth from the women of the Bible. This is a very popular belief among some people, and in certain cases this could be justified. I plan to use this quote and this source to show why many women find it difficult to be both religious and to be feminist. I will then explain that by acknowledging the strength seen in the women of the Bible, the no longer seem to be weak and submissive. In fact, they can be role models for women today and they can find “authentic meaning for [themselves] within the context of these traditions”.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. "Feminism and Patriarchal Religion: Principles of Ideological Critique of the Bible." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 22.1 (1982): 54-66. 

      3)      “Feminist philosopher Patrice DiQuinzio (1999) discussed the problem of rationalizing feminism, individualism, and mothering. Individualism considers each individual as a separate unit, which is basic to the argument for equal treatment and equal rights, but motherhood requires acknowledging interconnectedness between individuals who have distinct and competing needs, such as the need of the mother to self-actualize and the need of the infant for her undivided attention. This philosophical analysis led her to conclude that mothering has been, and will continue to be, an intractable problem for feminist theory.”

This quote talks about why motherhood and bearing children can be such a complicated issue. While feminism is often about women being individuals and doing things for themselves, the female ability to bear children goes against this very statement. It goes against it because the act of having a child means a woman cannot simply work in her own self-interest anymore. She must take care of another person and put that person’s needs before her own which could be a complication in some people’s idea of feminism, but at the same time, it exemplifies feminine strength and ability to take on the needs of others and to provide for a family.

                            Hoffnung, Michele. "Teaching about Motherhood: Revisioning Family." Psychology of Women Quarterly 35.2 (2011): 327-30.

      4)      “The fight for and against protective legislation for working women was a similarly divisive issue. Some feminists promoted protective legislation for working women and children because their health was put at risk by extremely long work hours and exposure to unhealthy working conditions. Other feminists argued against protective legislation because it would limit women’s freedom to work and would provide a rationale for gender-based differentials in pay and opportunities for promotion. Protecting women ultimately would mean excluding women from positions that would be more lucrative and more likely to lead to advancement.”

This source shows the difference that occurs in feminist theory on motherhood. Some believe women should be protected because of their ability to have children while others believe that protecting a woman simply because she can have kids is unfair. The second view focuses on the importance of woman in the workforce but it diminishes the importance of women as mothers. I believe this is where choice comes in to play. In the Bible, the women who became mothers chose to do so. They wanted to have children and the choice to have kids was what made them strong. However, today many women do not want to have children while other women do. Either way, it is the choice, and the ability to choose that empowers women. It seems from the quote above that many views on how women should be treated take away that choice; if all women are protected then some cannot make the choice to work; if all women are exposed to unhealthy conditions, they cannot make the choice to become mothers. 

               Hoffnung, Michele. "Teaching about Motherhood: Revisioning Family." Psychology of Women Quarterly 35.2 (2011): 327-30.


  1. This looks like a great argument to make. Crumb clearly has something to say about the role of women in ancient society and how they are portrayed in the book of Genesis. You make a good point in that the way he illustrates it makes many of the female characters seem more powerful than their male counterparts, or at least equal. You also make a good point about the counterargument, especially mentioning Lot's daughters. To me, they pose an interesting question. Yes they degrade themselves simply to have children and sacrifice their dignity, but it could also be said that making that kind of choice on their own shows inner strength and determination to shape their own futures. This all will make for a good argument over Crumb's intentions for his illustrations.

  2. This all seems good. I don't have any criticisms, although I do have a few reminders.
    1) Don't feel obligated to do *all* of this as the essay evolves. Finding a narrower focus would be a good thing, and if some of this material gets cut along the way, that's fine - even if that material was itself promising.
    2) Ideally, your views about what Crumb believes and what you believe in response to Crumb become more clear and more direct. You don't need to articulate your own viewpoint in order to write about Crumb's curious (and interesting) relationship with the Bible and feminism - but I think you'd find that clarifying your own thoughts, and foregrounding them at least a little bit, would only help you say what you have to say about Crumb.

    Full speed ahead!