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martha & mary: jesus the feminist & the destruction of privatised religion


That’s probably the adjective I would use to describe Luke 10:38-42, otherwise known as the story of Martha and Mary.

It would be an understatement to say that much has been written about this passage, particularly at a popular level. Music (“worship”) leaders love it! Martha, it is said, thinks the appropriate response to Jesus being present in her house is working, or serving – cleaning, cooking, whatever domestic duty the interpreter conjures up.

Mary on the other hand is said to really get what Jesus wants, which is to sit at his feet and listen – to be rather than to do.

This is a reading that has featured in middle class interpretation, and it suffices to legitimate a split-level faith in which being and doing can be separated, as can private and public religion, or faith (Mary) and works (Martha).

The problem is that this is not what the story is about. Read the rest of this entry


the gagafication of femininity

Ok, so let’s get some things straight before I start:

1) I am not a gender studies student, nor the son of a gender studies student, so excuse the simplicity or inconsistency of any comments I make;
2) I am not commenting on Lady Gaga’s music (in fact I am one of those rare males who finds her songs incredibly catchy and enjoyable);
3) I consider myself to be a feminist in a proper sense of the word (as opposed to the singular proper sense of the word which doesn’t really exist, and opposed to more contemporary misuses of the word).

Lady Gaga is no doubt one of the most influential figures in music today. Back in May Time included her in their list of Top 100 Most Influential People, and in June Forbes listed her 4th in their Top Most Powerful and Influential Celebrities in the World. Moreover in July Forbes again added her to a list, this time in the Top Music Earners of 2010 with Gaga at 7th on US$62 million.

Gaga’s influence is probably not the result of her music itself; such music is not all that dissimilar from a great deal of the RnB beat-laden pop currently filling the charts, and her lyrics are far from what you would consider intellectual, creative or inspirational.

On the contrary, Gaga’s influence probably stems from her self-proclaimed “revolutionary” approach to pop music, which in fact is not about music at all, but about an image, a persona, a fashion and arguably a worldview. This is not dissimilar to the place of Madonna in the 1980’s, whose music was arguably comparable with other acts at the time.

Gaga no doubt attempts to use her influence as best as she knows how (at least in one sense) in that she calls her fans “Little Monsters,” emphasising that they are “freaks” and “outcasts” (like her, apparently) and encourages them that they can find true freedom at her concerts (currently called “The Monster Ball”).

Apart from the (apparently unwitting) ridiculousness of her claim – the vast majority of her audience are pop fans, not drag queens or transgender people – there are a number of reasons to question Gaga’s approach to freedom, and in particular in regards to femininity. Keep Reading…

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