WomanChrist (6 of 8)
Unfortunately, I ultimately found the four archetypes offered by Weber to be somewhat limiting, in that they all seemed to define a woman in terms of her availability to, or relationships with, men. That choice of imagery enshrines the male as the conceptual center of the universe, and I simply do not believe that is so. I was also repulsed by the presentation of the Mother archetype as (among other things), “the one who feeds us at and suffocates us against her breast. When we attempt to gain freedom from her, she searches us out, even to the depths of hell if necessary” (159). What a perfect presentation of the male fear of being overwhelmed by their mothers! -and how inappropriate to psychologically project that fear onto a mother’s love and desperate search for her kidnapped and raped daughter, as epitomized by the tragic story of Demeter and Persephone! Why is this androcentric male phobia even presented in a book which is supposedly about Woman as Wisdom incarnate in Jesus?
Weeping by the rivers of Babylon
Things became more perplexing as I continued. As mentioned early in the book (and above, in this article), Weber specifically eschews simplifying and oppositional binaries. Later in the book, however, she not only sets up the Virgin-Mother and Bride-Widow dyads – but she also re-creates and emphasizes what I consider an extraordinarily damaging false binary in today’s US culture: the one between “masculine” and “feminine” traits or energies. Worse, in her explanations of these oppositional societally based assumptions, she practically enshrines the current damaged status quo between the genders.
For example, she refers to solely masculine energy as both “questing” (146) and as “so direct, so clear, so seemingly simple. We even have been tempted toward it in our spirituality, believing we can become disembodied spirits projected toward the Light of God” (138). Feminine energy, however, she portrays as astonishingly passive: as simply calling the masculine energy forth in quest for “her”; as simply being. To me, at least as Weber describes it, the masculine energy sounds far more interesting – he is “the holder, the carrier, and the container of [feminine] wisdom. The husband is the masculine holder of the feminine. He is the one who carries us through” (141).
Further, I’m not sure why anyone would even want to fulfill all the feminine traits as described here, since they seem to be not much more than the cherished possessions of the masculine. Once they are united, however, I think the WomanChrist embodies Weber’s ultimate Christian truth: “the simple and full acceptance of Life itself [as] the feminine Wisdom incarnates herself in the masculine Jesus. The masculine questor incorporates the feminine challenge to be and to become … the meaning of the Christ” (146).
I find this enormously frustrating, for several reasons. First, as I’ve already noted, why would anyone want to fulfill the feminine traits? They sound, if anything, almost parasitical: sitting around and mournfully wailing for the masculine traits to turn up and give them purpose and an owner. Further, if the goal is to unite the various parts of the human spirit, why go to such effort to split and label them as separate? Weber does take pains to note the gendered traits are not specific to the genders with which she identifies them – but if so, why bother gendering them in the first place?