Why Feminism Needs Susan Foster's Fierce Goddesses (2023)

VonGuest employee em 26 January 2023(7)

Why Feminism Needs Susan Foster's Fierce Goddesses (1)

The recent backlash against women and feminism, highlighted by the Supreme Court ruling that Roe v. Wade left many people wondering: is feminism dead? Or if it's not dead, is it lost? The decision dealt a blow to one of women's most fundamental freedoms - control over their own bodies. In the rush to protect embryo and fetal life, the lives of millions of women are being endangered, if not lost altogether, especially poor women and BIPOC.

The Court is imposing its right-wing views on a country that does not share its values; The majority of Americans support a woman's right to an abortion. “The “victorious right,” says Susan Faludi in an interview with Michelle Goldberg, “has taken off the gloves and is waging a scorched-earth campaign against women's most basic rights.” [i] And although the feminist movement cannot be reduced to the struggle for reproductive justice (with issues such as maternity leave, equal pay, child care, health etc. iceberg.

As the backlash gathers momentum, feminist writers are increasingly reporting a backlash from the movement. Kiara Barrow and Rebecca Panovka write, "We have long felt that feminism is in trouble." They point to a lack of vitality, a sense of stagnation in the movement. "We were quite shocked to see that people around us ... are generally quite unhappy and maybe five years ago they considered themselves feminists but don't anymore." [ii]

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With so much antipathy towards reaction feminism and the apathy that exists at the same time, how can feminism be revived to regain momentum? The answer may lie in the distant past, long before the modern feminist movement took shape. The "savage goddesses" of antiquity represent an archetype of female rage against injustice. This archetype became deeply embedded in our psyche - in what psychiatrist Carl Jung calls the collective unconscious. When we allow our psyche to explore the dark or shadowy side of the unconscious, images of dark goddesses can emerge. These dark goddesses or so-called savages carry a primal energy of destruction of those systems and paradigms that no longer serve us. The dark goddesses are challenging paradigms that must be destroyed, particularly the patriarchy that has effectively pushed them into the shadows. They also have the power to create new non-patriarchal structures that promote well-being and align with justice. The dark goddesses of antiquity are immersed in our psyches, but they serve as a repository of wild energy, female rage against injustice that, if harnessed, can revitalize the flagging women's movement.

One of the most famous of the dark or wildGoddesses, it's Kali, a Hindu goddess who is a manifestation of Shakti, the primordial energy of the universe that can be both creative and destructive. Depicted with a scimitar in one hand and a severed head in the other, with a necklace of skulls and a skirt of body parts, Kali is an archetype of female rage.

women in India wereadorando timesFor thousands of years. Their current situation is so dire and the injustices so pervasive that when the legal system failed them, a vigilante group called the Gulabi Gang called for justice for women. The gang, made up of half a million women between the ages of 18 and 65, dressed in pink saris, fights for women's education and safety in the province of Uttar Pradesh. These warriors seek justice primarily through dialogue, protests and hunger strikes. In violent crimes against women, the gang turns the perpetrators over to the police; but when the authorities don't act, the gang intervene with sticks or rods and beat up the wrongdoers to teach them a lesson. Authorities praised the gang's work, noting that it had created a new awareness of women's rights and accelerated the fight against women's exploitation.

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Why Feminism Needs Susan Foster's Fierce Goddesses (3)

Nishita Jain, filmmaker of a documentary about the gang, says: "It is ironic that women in one of the most backward regions of India are being forced to become 'manly' and aggressive in their fight against machismo and patriarchy."[iii] Such claims are being made often raised against women standing up and fighting against injustice. Women who are assertive or aggressive often become like men, forsaking their feminine "virtues" of gentleness, conformity, and obligingness. Such a sexual stereotype assumes that women's willingness to fight cannot be part of their true nature, but must be the result of imitating men. This assumption misunderstands the inherent nature of women and robs them of their own ability to feel and respond to legitimate anger/anger. Women who refuse to be passive victims are not behaving like men, but are plumbing the depths of their own psyches, acknowledging their own anger at being victims, and exercising their own agency to create a society which is free from such abuse. Kali as a female archetype represents the inherent anger and destructive power that women possess and which is not just the domain of men.

It is important and healthy for us as women to reclaim our anger, use it to protect ourselves and fight for our rights in oppressive systems. Recognizing our anger and rage against injustice will put us in touch with our dark side and with dark goddesses like Kali who will aid us in our fight for a just society that recognizes our rights. These goddesses are sending a message to feminists today that will stand the test of time, if we are willing to listen. Your holy rage against injustice can be used as fuel in the fight for our rights. We must honor and listen to the wisdom that the dark goddesses can impart to us today. This will help infuse the feminist movement with the wild energy it needs to rise with renewed vigor and throw off the yoke of patriarchy.


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[i] Michelle Goldberg, “The Future Is No Longer Female,” New York Times, June 17, 2022.
[ii] Kiara Barrow und Rebecca Panovka, „What to Do About Feminism“, The Drift, Ausgabe 6, 31. Januar 2022.
[iii] Shweta Desai, "Gulabi Gang, India's Women Warriors", Al Jazeera, March 4, 2014.

photo creditlinked in pictures.


Why Feminism Needs Susan Foster's Fierce Goddesses (4)

Susan Forstreceived her doctorate in philosophy and taught philosophy at Wellesley College, where she also taught the first course in women's and gender studies. She left academia to attend a postdoctoral retraining program in clinical and community psychology at Boston University Medical Center. She currently runs a private practice specializing in women's issues. She founded and for 13 years directed the Women's Spirituality Series at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, MA, which featured speakers such as Starhawk, Margot Adler, Mary Daly, Margaret Starbird, and Donna Read, among others. She is an active member of the UU church in Asheville, NC, where she leads pagan rituals and serves on the Blue Ridge Spirit CUUPS chapter council. She is currently writing a book entitled Is Feminism Dead? The fierce ancient goddesses have a message for today's women,” from which this blog was adapted.

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Categories:In general,goddess,goddess of feminism,Reproductive Justice,Reh x Wade,violence against women

Sign:Gangesrose,Kali,Nishita Jain,Susan Forst


What is the difference between a feminist reformer and a feminist revolutionary according to Bell Hooks? ›

Reformist thinkers chose to emphasize gender equality. Revolutionary thinkers go beyond altering the existing system so that women would have more rights. They want to transform the system and to put an end to patriarchy and sexism (hooks 2000, 4).

How do feminism and religion intersect? ›

Feminism impacts understandings of gender within and about religious traditions. Using feminist theory, it is possible to examine particular religious traditions for their contribution to either oppression or empowerment of women within society.

What does Bell hooks mean by lifestyle feminism and what does she think about it? ›

As hooks explains, this reformism now extends to "lifestyle feminism," in which there are many different types of feminism, each meshing with. a woman's particular lifestyle. Thus, for example, women can claim to. be simultaneously feminist and anti-choice.

When did Bell Hooks write Feminism is for everybody? ›

A figurehead of intersectionality, she authored numerous feminist classics and in 2014 the bell hooks institute was founded in her name. Her books include Ain't I a Woman (Pluto, 1987), Feminist Theory (Pluto, 2000) and Feminism is for Everybody (Pluto, 2000).

What are the three main feminist thoughts? ›

In the same year Barbara Deckard published The Women's Movement, which also identified three major strands within the Women's Liberation Movement. [4] The book referred to socialist feminism, radical feminism and, what Deckard called, women's rights feminism.

What is the main message of the feminist movement? ›

In general, feminism can be seen as a movement to put an end to sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression and to achieve full gender equality in law and in practice.

What are feminist beliefs in society? ›

Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

How did religion influence women's rights? ›

The bible played a complex role in the women's suffrage movement. Religious convictions compelled many to campaign and others to fight vehemently against granting women the right to vote. Women viewed the right to vote as not only a political and social but a moral issue — as did their opponents.

Which religion is feminist? ›

Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Neopaganism, Baháʼí Faith, Judaism, Islam Christianity and New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective.

What is the woman question in feminism? ›

“The woman question”—the problem specifically of women's suffrage, and more broadly of changing political, economic, and professional roles for women and of social and sexual liberation—gained increasing urgency in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as activists grew more militant and the government ...

What is the meaning of feminist poem? ›

Feminist poetry is inspired by, promotes, or elaborates on feminist principles and ideas. It might be written with the conscious aim of expressing feminist principles, although sometimes it is identified as feminist by critics in a later era.

What is the message of we should all be feminists? ›

In essence, we should all be feminists not only as a commitment to women's liberation but also as a way of encouraging men to hold conversations with women on sexuality, appearance, roles, and success. Being a feminist entails championing for the rights of women and trying to make the world a better place for women.

Who started feminism first? ›

Some thinkers have sought to locate the roots of feminism in ancient Greece with Sappho (d. c. 570 BCE), or the medieval world with Hildegard of Bingen (d. 1179) or Christine de Pisan (d. 1434). Certainly Olympes de Gouge (d.

Who was the first person to use the word feminism? ›

The word feminism itself was first coined in 1837 by French philosopher, Charles Fourier (as féminisme).

What type of feminist is bell hooks? ›

bell hook was one of the intersectional feminist who brought race (and other marginalized identities) into feminism; thus, making feminism more inclusive and applicable. bell hook has made such a huge impact on feminism as we know it today, and we will forever be grateful for her contributions.

What is the most common type of feminism? ›

Mainstream feminism

The mainstream feminist movement traditionally focused on political and legal reform, and has its roots in first-wave liberal feminism of the 19th and early-20th centuries.

What are the two core principles of feminism? ›

Most feminists agree on five basic principles—working to increase equality, expanding human choice, eliminating gender stratification, ending sexual violence, and promoting sexual freedom.

What are feminist values? ›

It begins by establishing a link between feminine gender and feminist values, which include cooperation, respect, caring, nurturance, intercon- nection, justice, equity, honesty, sensitivity, perceptiveness, intuition, altruism, fair- ness, morality, and commitment.

What are the two types of feminists? ›

  • Kinds of Feminism.
  • Liberal Feminism.
  • Radical Feminism.
  • Marxist and Socialist Feminism.
  • Cultural Feminism.
  • Eco-Feminism.
  • I-Feminism new wave? http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/

What did bell hooks believe in? ›

She implored us to transgress and struggle, but to do so with love and fearlessness. Her brave, bold and beautiful words not only spoke truth to power, but also risked speaking that same truth to and about our beloved icons and culture. Discovering bell hooks changed the lives of countless Black women and girls.

What is the key difference between liberal and radical feminists? ›

As one of the "Big Three" schools of feminist thought, liberal feminism is often contrasted with socialist/Marxist feminism and radical feminism, but in contrast to them, liberal feminism seeks gradual social progress and equality on the basis of liberal democracy rather than a revolution or radical reordering of ...

What are the two types of feminism? ›

Traditionally feminism is often divided into three main traditions, sometimes known as the "Big Three" schools of feminist thought: liberal/mainstream feminism, radical feminism and socialist or Marxist feminism.


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