Natalie K. Watson, Feminist Theology (Guides to Theology; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003). (Amazon.com)
If you are like me you may be unfamiliar with various marginalized theologies. It helps to have a guide who can introduce you to a new worldview with overwhelming you. Natalie K. Waton’s Feminist Theology does just that. It is short at 110 pages, even shorter when you factor that pages 63-110 consist of an annotated bibliography. Somehow, Watson manages to help the unaccustomed reader become acquainted with Feminist Theology in the short span of 62 pages.
The book is divided into two main sections, excluding the bibliography. The first section addressed how Feminist Theologians have viewed Scripture and Tradition. The second section surveys major themes in Feminist Theology.
In the Scripture and Tradition section Watson briefly discusses the nature of Feminist Theology and its core values. She is quick to clarify that there is no singular Feminist Theology, since women come from all sorts of life settings. A French Catholic woman will not theologize the same way as a Haitian Pentecostal woman. Yet, there are shared values as women attempt to critically examine the formation of a religious tradition that has excluded them for the most part. Watson helps the reader become more aware of how women have played various roles in the development of the Church while showing how and why Feminist Theologians have deconstructed some of the “givens” of Christian tradition asking what might change if women were included as fully as men.
The Themes in Feminist Theology is a whirlwind tour of many of the most important subjects being addressed by Feminist Theologians. This includes everything from male God-language and questions regarding “why” Jesus was male and if his maleness matters to a revisiting of how women have been portrayed in relation to so-called “original sin” and how Roman Catholic and Orthodox Mariology provide a complicated symbol of the feminine for Christians to consider.
For the reader seeking to engage Feminist Theology/-ies this may be a helpful place to start. The writing is clear and succinct. Watson discusses a wide-variety of subjects and she interacts with many of the more prominent Feminist Theologians as well as less recognized. She is sensitive to differentiate women who come from differing national, racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and sexual identities. While I am obviously not an expert in this area of thought, nor familiar enough with the various Feminist Theologies to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this small volume, I can say that if you are ignorant of what constitutes Feminist Theology, like me, you will likely find this book at least gets you up-and-running toward further engagement.