jueves, noviembre 15, 2018

Feminist Theology in Mexico

Published on: RYPC Translations | Cite as

Feminist Theology in Mexico

Cartel de las Virginias. Source: wordpress.com.
Marilú Rojas Salazar


Can a feminist theology be developed in a society which is decidedly patriarchal-androcentric, and traditionally macho, such as the Mexican? Mexico, such as other Latin American countries, is characterized for its sexism as a traversing element crossing its culture, politics, traditions, economic systems, and churches. Another characteristic element is the “feminization of poverty”1. This “feminization of poverty” is an element that unmasks the true face of injustice, exclusion, and the marginalization of Mexican women, who suffer a triple exclusion: for being women, for being poor, and for being indigenous.2

Women in Mexico, besides having to overcome patriarchies and the prevailing sexism in society in general, must also constantly confront the dominant patriarchal clericalism in churches, and theological thought control at the hands of men.

Feminist theology

The “women experience” not only constitutes the fundamental base of the feminist theological reflection, and the starting point of its methodology, as some theologians affirm, such as Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza3, Mercedes Navarro4, Pamela Dickey Young5, and Elina Vuola6, among others. The “women experience” is also a very diverse contextual frame conditioned by the type of society, culture, race, religion, and economic reality in which every woman develop. This is the case of the “women experience” of the so-called third world, and more precisely, it is the reality frame in which women from Latin America and Mexico develop.

Why talk about feminist theology and not about feminine or women´s theology? Because feminine is a socio-cultural construction elaborated from the male point of view, and from the patriarchal model; it is also a role or stereotype that every woman needs to follow to satisfy men. The construction of feminine refers to women under the outline of what men think “women should be”. On the other hand, when we refer to ‘feminism’, we refer to the critical theory that analyzes patriarchy “like a pyramidal political structure of domination and subordination, stratified by gender, race, class, religious and cultural taxonomies, and other historical forms of domination”7.

The term “feminist theology” is used to differentiate it from ‘mujerista’8 and ‘womanist’9 currents, which are two schools of thought within the wide and vast women´s theological reflection in Latin America. Using the term ‘feminist’, bears the intention to clarify that this term, “instead of gender, or woman, represents a political concept and movement”10. Like Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza rightly says: “The articulation of a feminist theory of interpretation as a practice of critical liberty, with the purpose of making explicit a logic of liberation capable of transforming patriarchal oppression”11, because feminism is a transformative movement, and builder of equality relationships.

Feminism is against the creation of a romantic mystic of femininity, exalting and sublimating women as wives, virgins, and mothers, because this is a sexist mechanism of control, that, according to feminist criticism, it is used to hide the exclusion of women from the real instances of decision.

“In their attempt to build an opposing discourse about Women, these theories or theologies of femininity have kept alive the discourse of classical Western philosophy and theology regarding gender asymmetry, gender polarity or complementary gender –a discourse that understands men as the subject of history, culture, and religion, while it sees women as the Other.”12

From a feminist perspective, it is not about a ‘theology of women’, because women are not just another theme of theological reflection, and/or the “other” that must be studied as an “object” of reflection, but it is herself, the woman, the subject that reflects about her faith. A ‘theology of women’ would exclude men. Feminism does not exclude, but includes men and exhorts them to change their equality relationships, and proposes a new social, political, economic, ecclesiastical order, beneficial for both men and women alike. Nowadays, women are also talked about as a ‘locus’ or theological place. She is not only a subject, but also a theological place.

Feminism is different form ‘feminine’, because, while ‘feminine’ is “the group of qualities, rules, and ideals that mark the behavior of females, interiorized through education, reinforced through fashion and beauty products, and believed to be innate –although, in reality, it is a social, political, and religious construct”13–, to maintain dominance and control over women, indigenous and afro-amer-indian groups, and of nature from patriarchal standards. ‘Feminism’, on the other hand, “is the movement and theory concerning all women´s rights, dignity, and economic, social, political, and religious equality. It is focused on all women´s fight against domination, exploitation, oppression and dehumanization.”14

Main contributions of feminist theology

The phases of the historical process of feminist theology show how it has evolved in its way of defining itself, because it turned from the conceptuality of women theology towards gender theology, from gender theology towards feminist theology of liberation, from feminist theology of liberation towards ecofeminist theology, from ecofeminist theology towards intercultural feminist theology, and from intercultural feminist theology towards ecofeminist intercultural theology.

Firstly, the situation of oppression, exclusion and marginalization of Latin and Latin American women intersects cultures and religions, which makes of the intersectionality of gender analysis a necessary thing.

Secondly, the new holocaust, in which everyone somehow participates and is responsible, is the “ecological holocaust”, whose main victims are the poorest people, and, among them, women and children, indigenous and afro-amer-indian populations.

Lastly, feminist theology confirms that Mexico is a multicultural, multi-contextual country characterized by injustice, that demands a necessary response from theological, epistemological and methodological interculturality.

At the theological level, the sacramental theology ought to be re-thought from the perspective of gender equality, the use of theological language in its diverse disciplines, liturgic language and the forms of language in which the documents of ecclesiastical doctrines are written, because these have not yet overcome the use of a language that excludes half of the human gender and more than half of the members of churches and communities.

Patriarchy and/or sexism is not an attitude typical of poor countries, or an exclusive problem of Mexico, it is an inter-cultural, inter-epistemical, and inter-religious problem, although it has different names, forms and faces. Feminization of poverty, injustice, violence against women, and their exclusion from the spaces of power are not only intersectional, but also trans-cultural, trans-religious, and trans-epistemical. That is why an intercultural critical and feminist stance capable of waking consciousness around this situation at a cultural level is required, to further influence and transform the other structures, because oppression is constructed over the cultural ruins of any given society.

In the matters of inter-religious and ecumenic dialogue, women are pioneers, given that inter- religious and ecumenic dialogues are neglected and superfluously mentioned topics in the theological agendas of patriarchal systems in most monotheistic religions.

Feminist theology, reflecting on the intercultural aspect, cannot be built separately from the “ecological holocaust”, which is why feminist theology has transformed into ecofeminist theology. For this reason, the construction of an intercultural ecofeminist theology is sought, capable of stablishing the grounds for the construction of another possible world, based on eco-justice and relational equality.


Mexico desperately needs an intercultural ecofeminist theological dimension, capable of denouncing the injustice of the violent patriarchal system, based on unequal, dominant, and exclusive relationships, and which still prevails in the current collective imagination.

The rebirth of femicides in the country are an undeniable sign that violence has a gender, and that women´s bodies are still some kind of trophy that marks the war territory of the groups that generate and reproduce violence in the country. Even though the entire country is a victim of this situation, and of weak governments, in a situation of extreme violence such as the one we currently live in, there are always victims and people who are more vulnerable, people who serve to satisfy the interests of those who reproduce the violence.

Education, religions and churches are the ones that, today, have an ethical eco-justice duty that they should prophesize, announce, and encourage, and if a new world is sought, they should be the first ones to change their discourse and their practices towards more inclusive and non-exclusive, nor patriarchal, neither homophobic models. What is the voice and stance of churches before the situation we currently live in? It seems that their voice is not uttered. Meanwhile, theology, in its intercultural and ecofeminist dimension denounces the systematic violence of which we, women, are being victims in all its dimensions.

This article was translated by Alfredo Francis and reviewed by Nicolás Manfredi, under the grant “God's Evolution” awarded to the Science and Faith Centre (Spain) by the BioLogos Foundation (USA).

  1. Margot Bremer, La Mujer en la Iglesia Latinoamericana in “10 Palabras Clave sobre la Iglesia Latinoamericana”, ed. Pablo Richard (Navarra: Verbo Divino, 2003), 265-267.
  2. Elisa Estévez, Iglesia in “10 Mujeres Escriben Teología”, ed. Mercedes Navarro (Navarra: Verbo Divino 1998), 191.
  3. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, But she said: Feminist practices of biblical interpretation. (Madrid: Trotta, 1996), 164.
  4. Mercedes Arriaga & Mercedes Navarro, Teología Feminista I (Madrid: ArCIBel editores, 2007), 16-22.
  5. Pamela Dickey Young, Teología Feminista: Teología Cristiana: En Búsqueda de un Método (México: DEMAC, 1993), 50-69.
  6. Elina Vuola, Teología Feminista: Teología de la Liberación: Los Límites de la Liberación (Praxis as a method of the Latin American Liberation Theology and of the Feminist Theology) (Madrid: IEPALA, 2000).
  7. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, But she said: 153.
  8. Ada María Isasi Díaz, Mujerista Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996). Quoted by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Los Caminos de la Sabiduría: Una Introducción a la Interpretación Feminista de la Biblia (Bilbao: Sal terrae, 2004), 82. “the mujerista theory which includes an ethics and a theology, is a liberating praxis, a reflective action whose goal is the liberation. In that sense, mujerista theology is a process in the habilitation of north American women with Latin American background, who try to develop a deep conscience of moral acting, and to perceive the importance and valor of who they are, and what they think and do.”
  9. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Los Caminos de la Sabiduría, 282. “Term coined by the writer Alice Walter to designate the afro(north)American feminists, meaning colored feminists and the struggle of their people…”
  10. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, But she said: 23.
  11. Ibid., 24.
  12. Ibid., 178.
  13. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Los Caminos de la Sabiduría, 275.
  14. Ibid., 275.

Cite as (ISO 690:2010): ROJAS SALAZAR, Marilú. Feminist Theology in Mexico [online]. RYPC Translations, 15 November 2018. <http://www.revista-rypc.org/2018/11/feminist-theology-in-mexico.html> [accessed: ].