chapter  1
Pages 24

This chapter discusses a feminist lens to explore the relationship between language, representation and female agency, and to examine the discursive and embodied matrix of Western patriarchal Christian thought, gender and shame which is produced, utilised and sustained as part of the economy of that relationship. Notions of shame have changed over history and in different societies and cultures. Feminist theoretical approaches are important to understanding the lives of historic women and men in their gendered cultural contexts. Feminist inquiry problematises stereotypes and generates a different set of questions in its search to understand the playing out of gendered ideologies and social patterns and in examining the respective agencies of women and men within these. Feminist theology since the 1980s has been significantly influenced by post-modern secular feminism, emphasising the validity of 'empirical attempts to uncover women's experience, rather than simply to pronounce upon its essence'.