MEANING AND POWER: SOME KEY TERMS IN FEMINIST LIBERATION THEOLOGY
AbstractFeminist theologians engaged in research have found it necessary to analyse terms, motifs, definitions and perspectives critically in order to clarify their meaning when applying them to women’s experience. In this process certain key terms have come to the fore which occur with frequency as women grapple with what it means to have faith in a sexist world. The role of language, symbol and metaphor are of primeImportance in the doing of feminist theology. Women have learnt about the power of naming in the struggle to have their experience heard in a male-defined world. The more language and its use are examined, the more apparent it becomes that making meaning through language is no simple task.There is no single feminist theology. Feminist theologians are not and homogenous group and they represent a variety of voices on what it means to be a women of faith. Thus the key terms spelt out in this article are neither exhaustive nor universal. Their selection and the manner in which they are explained will depend on the category called ‘women’s experience’, and on particular hermeneutical choices. The phrase ‘women’s experience’ is in itself problematic. Women are separated everywhere by race, class and economic status and great caution must be Exercised not to overemphasize the universal at the cost of the particular when referring to the experience of women.The key terms dealt with are: conscientization, feminism, the personal is political, patriarchy, community of faith, relationally, justice, liberation, liberating praxis and commonwealth of God. They are chosen because they are of particular interest to the author’s research in practical theology as a white middle-class Christian feminist and the definitions given are operational in the generating of theories in the South African context.
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