Faith & Feminism: A feminist theologian reveals her truth

This inspired guest post from feminist spiritual leader Meggan Watterson continues our Feminism & Faith series. See Meggan’s full bio after the jump, and be in touch with Courtney_at_feministing.com if you’d like to contribute a future column.

As a feminist theologian, I was utterly bereft at the lack of female voices in the litany of theological course work my two masters degrees required me to know. Much of the theological discourse I read was fascinating, inspiring even, but it left my experience as a young embodied female absolutely unknown.

Where was the spiritual experience of a woman who spoke with and from the wisdom of her body rather than denied it?

The women of Gen X and Gen Y have been blessed with three waves of feminism. And we are now living out the emergence of the fourth wave of feminism, where secular feminist and fiery women of faith are coming together and understanding that faith and feminism create a soul-fueled form of activism. Hear William Blake decree, “The Voice Of Honest Indignation Is The Voice Of God.”

My involvement in the women’s spirituality movement has exposed me to the isolation and estrangement so many women my age have felt from their religious and faith traditions because of their feminist mores. If they stay in their place of worship, they feel as though they’re betraying the feminist in them. They want to be able to worship, not just as a member of their religion, but also as women. They want to be able to hear their experience and see their sex represented in the hierarchy of most religious traditions, which still have low glass ceilings for women. However, if they leave their place of worship and the community along with it, they have to leave a source of immense strength and support.

As a facilitator for the Faith and Feminism Dialogues conducted by The Sister Fund and Ms. Magazine in 2006 and 2007, I had the unique opportunity to meet with hundreds of young women who have their foot caught in the door of their place of worship–undecided if they’re staying or going. (Hence, the very apt title of an anthology of young female catholic voices titled “From The Pews In The Back.”)

The lack of female representation in positions of spiritual authority, the lack of using feminine pronouns during worship services for identifying the divine, and the lack of relevance to their female experience of life had forced these young women to want to leave…. and to long for more. But what? And where?

This is the great need from which REVEAL was formed. REVEAL inspires women of all ages to connect to the wisdom within them, to claim their bodies as sacred, and to become soul-led agents of change in the world. REVEAL empowers women to share their stories and experiences of the divine to fill in the deep chasm of silence women’s voices have had to endure within institutionalized religion.

Feminist inexorably =’s Activist. And for a REVEALer, the holy fire keeping her activism aflame is a connection and a commitment to the spiritual wisdom that resides within her and to the radical conviction that she herself (body & soul) is sacred.

Meggan Watterson is the founder and executive director of REVEAL, a spiritual mentor, and a transformational speaker for women’s spiritual empowerment. Meggan has a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University. She facilitates The REDLADIES- a women’s spirituality group in NYC where women come together to encourage each other to find, hear, and to follow the courageous and audacious voice of their soul. Her work has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, Women’s Radio, Feminist.com, and StyleSubstanceSoul.com. She is currently working on the REVEAL anthology titled REVEAL Generation: Fierce Feminine & Divine.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted January 6, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I’m curious to know here how Ms. Watterson defines “fourth wave”. I know it’s an emerging definition, and as such, I’d like to hear how others characterize it. I often ask the same questions to different people, because the answers I get are always so interesting and varied.

  2. Posted January 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    It means a lot to me that Feministing is doing this feminism and faith series as a religious feminist. I have known what my own judgment shows me when it comes to my faith and feminism and what so many churches would tell me, that it’s wrong, that the two don’t mix. The biggest conflict has really been relatives who don’t believe women are equal to men and that any feminist is evil, it’s not easy to know a family member feels that way about me. In the end my personal feelings about God and feminism go fine together, the God I believe would never see women as less than men, or see feminism as evil, it’s just the way others feel that bothers me sometimes. It’s good to see things like this addressed here.

  3. Posted January 6, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Medieval mystics write at length about their femaleness and connection to God, see also the Cult of the Virgin. I am sure these are not the only religious writings from a female perspective, perhaps your programs should modify their canons.

  4. Posted January 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    What about Paganism, Wicca or any other alternative religions? What about the Muslim religion or the Buddhist religion? What about the feminists in those religions?

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