May 28, 2006

Sacred Feminine?

Warning: Spoilers (and a bit of a rant) Ahead

I tend to be someone who resists doing what everyone else is doing. Which is why it took me ‘til Tuesday, laid up in bed with food poisoning, to finally read the DaVinci Code. I’ve heard a lot of the he said/she said, what are the facts hullabaloo. Whatever. Just taking the book on its own intrinsic merits and internal logic, I was pissed off annoyed by the end.

The whole book is about the Sacred Feminine: the supposed core of truth removed by the early church. Yet his definition of the Sacred Feminine is strangely masculine. He has a list of famous men who have led the Priory of Sion over the years. Why is it all men? He could have used Christina Rosseti (oh look, there’s ROSE in her name!) or Hildegard of Bingen as well known historical women. Near the end of the book he mentions in passing that four women led the group but couldn’t be bothered to name any. And Sophie, who’d been educated by the current PS leader, needed a man to help her figure out the clues? Oh, and let me be sure I understand, by his definition being a Sacred Woman means I get to have sex in front of 30 chanting people with some famous man? Oh wait, I get to be on TOP. Oh, ok. Now I feel much better.

Why is it that in DaVinci code goddess worship seems to involve sex rites and temple prostitutes? Women are free to have sex with whomever they choose, that’s what sets them free and gives them power? This isn’t about prudery or whatever on my part, but sex seems like stereotypical coin for women to need use in exchange for power. Go ahead, have your orgy, visit your temple prostitute, just don’t tell me you’re doing it to honor me as a woman. There’s nothing radical or sacred about that.

Dan Brown maintains that by Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene and having a child with her he was elevating women. Frankly what Jesus really did for Mary was much more radical. He saw her as a person. He didn’t have to have sex with her, marry her, or have children with her for her to be valuable. He instead recognized her intrinsic worth. In most societies around the world and throughout history, that has not been true. Even now in the US most of my single women friends are agonizing about still being single. Without anyone saying it, there’s a sense that something is ‘wrong’ with them. If they were smarter, nicer, prettier, more willing to compromise, etc surely they’d be married by now. But Jesus values women for themselves. They were part of the group of disciples as unmarried women. He let himself be touched in public by an ‘unclean’ woman (who wept over his feet, dried them with her—unbound=prostitute—hair, and anointed his feet with perfume). His masculinity didn’t need a woman for validation and he valued the feminine in woman without needing to possess her.

13 comments:

weigook saram said...

You are making me glad I never got around to reading that book. I checked it out of the library but I never could get into it. Then it got so popular that I just couldn't bring myself to read it.

rdmeeker said...

OTRGirl!! You are so freakin' SMART!

That's the most insightful thing anyone's ever said about the Da Vinci Code.

Ever.

Angie said...
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Anonymous said...

I agree with rdmeeker. You're wicked smaht and insightful.

I haven't read this one, but I was--guilted? manipulated? blackmailed?--into reading the prequel. It was of a piece with this one, evidently. Only there was only one woman to possess, and the handsome white American scholar rescued her from the evil Muslim assassin. Phew! All's right with the world. :-P

OTR mama said...

Pretty good, OTR girl!

Songbird said...

I like your analysis!
In the movie, the helplessness of the woman was even more pathetic.

OTR sis said...

We must have been raised by the same woman.

I've never heard before that unbound hair = prostitute. Personally I do believe that Mary Magdelene has been cast into the role of a prostitute by history and the church with no evidence for it. All we know about her is that she repented. I do think the church has a lot to answer for when it comes to women, the feminity of God, and even sexuality, but I don't think this book comes even close to asking the right questions.

Anonymous said...

Bravo ! ! ! !

Best revoew I've read.

Deirdre said...

Very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Great review! Thanks, OTRGirl! Now I don't need to read the book.

As someone who is currently living in the Middle East, I can verify that, for the most part, loose hair is indeed associated with prostitutes. It has been this way for a long time, apparently.

I have also wondered why Mary Magdalene is thought to have been a prostitute. I couldn't find any firm evidence for this conclusion. Not that it matters much, one way or the other.

Dorcasina said...

Awesome post!
I confess to having read DVC when it first came out (I love trashy reads), and to having read the completely tripe-y and lusciously ludicrous _Holy Blood, Holy Grail_--the pseudo-history Brown used for much of his "information" (60 Minutes had a great debunking of the basic premises of both a few weeks back).

I think any semblance of "feminism" in the book is a pretty transparent ploy to use recent interest in feminist reworkings of early and pre-Christian times (most of which are themselves sadly inaccurate) to sell us a story about how cool DB's white guys are.

The book is Hollywood in the extreme--women are basically around to be admiring sidekicks, sexual conquests, or window dressing for an all-male (at least in ways it counts) version of history.

And how, exactly, is Hollywood/21st Century/Late Capitalism Misogyny *better* than early Christian/Medieval/Opus Dei Misogyny?

I love your distinction: that what was truly radical was Jesus's acceptance of MM as a person, NOT as simply sexual.

As with so much of institutional religion: why not focus on what Jesus actually said, and did? That would be utterly revolutionary...

L said...

Excellent post.

I read this book a few years ago and took it for what it was. To me it wasn't mindblowing or award winning. It was fairly entertaining but the fact that people are up in arms over it just has me scratching my head a bit.

I liked your analysis of things. I hadn't thought of it from that perspective although you definitely bring a new light to things.

MikeF said...

Brilliant! You've nailed this thorny thing in one...

I've taken the liberty of quoting from your post in ="http://themercyblog.blogspot.com/2006/06/about-sacred-feminine-such-things.html" The Mercy Blog since this really is the about the best thing I've read on the book, not to mention your excellent point about Mary...