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The Bible and FeminismRemapping the Field$
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Yvonne Sherwood

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198722618

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198722618.001.0001

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The Impossibility of Queering the Mother: New Sightings of the Virgin Mother in the ‘Secular’ State

The Impossibility of Queering the Mother: New Sightings of the Virgin Mother in the ‘Secular’ State

Chapter:
(p.651) Chapter 36 The Impossibility of Queering the Mother: New Sightings of the Virgin Mother in the ‘Secular’ State
Source:
The Bible and Feminism
Author(s):

Yvonne Sherwood

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198722618.003.0037

In this part autobiographical essay, I explore the social consequences of the rise of the so-called ‘tender years’ doctrine coinciding with the rise in divorce. I argue that this has led to increased gender apartheid around the figures of M-for-Mother and F-for-Father, and a new sanctification of the figure of the holy mother-and-child. I look at the inverse and complementary relations between M-for-Male and F-for Female and M-for-Mother and F-for-Father, and I argue (counterintuitively) that origins, mothers, and fathers are queerer in ancient myths and the Bible than they are in contemporary semantics and law. I use strange old biblical texts (Solomon’s judgment; the trial of Abraham) to create unheimlich echoes for the so-called secular state and its strange constructions of the family; and I show how the Ten Commandments continue to influence family law.

Keywords:   mother, father, queer, the Virgin Mary, Eve, Abraham, the judgment of Solomon, divorce, family law, tender years doctrine

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