European Feminist Research Conference edition:7 location:Utrecht, Netherlands date:June 2009
The topic of masculinity, it would seem, is very often absent from contemporary progressive theological discussions, and is seemingly only championed by those fundamentalist perspectives which seek to elevate a particular version of masculine dominance over all other forms. Yet, the psychological sense of ‘rootedness’ in one’s gender, especially as it is related to one’s being represented culturally and politically, is greatly indebted to the often unstated canonical representations of the (masculine) self which are heavily, and directly, invested in their theological-historical roots. Therefore, it is to the construction of masculinities in today’s Catholic setting, and their undisclosed horizons beyond it, toward which we now turn in order to assess what stakes lie in addressing and critically assessing their contemporary production. This is done in the hopes of illuminating the subtly of a ‘theological violence’, even if often rendered in thoroughly secular terms, in gendered representations, here illuminated primarily through Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of the techniques of masculine domination and Judith Butler’s critique of giving an account of oneself. It is by utilizing these critical perspectives, alongside the various, recent and historically relevant Church documents on gender that we might begin to see how these theological-historical positions have been disseminated and accepted as identity defining across cultural and national boundaries. This assessment aims, then, at rendering a critical appraisal of these theological-patriarchical norms, in their cultural representational terms, through the act of facing the content of what has been repressed, primarily through an acknowledgement of the violences that those engaged in religious institutions are normally complicit in. Doing so can, ultimately, bring us to a different understanding of both the strengths and failures of ecclesial structures in registering personal and social identity as well as the ways in which these identities are represented theologically and culturally today.