Divine love

Luce Irigaray, women, gender and religion

Author: Morny Joy

This book explores the work of Luce Irigaray, one of the most influential and controversial figures in feminist thought—although Irigaray herself disclaims the term ‘feminism’. Irigaray's work stands at the intersection of contemporary debates concerned with culture, gender and religion, but her ideas have not yet been presented in a comprehensive way from the perspective of religious studies. The book examines the development of religious themes from Irigaray's initial work, Speculum of the Other Woman, in which she rejects traditional forms of western religions, to her more recent explorations of eastern religions. Irigaray's ideas on love, the divine, an ethics of sexual difference and normative heterosexuality are analysed. These analyses are placed in the context of the reception of Irigaray's work by secular feminists such as Judith Butler, Drucilla Cornell and Elizabeth Grosz, as well as by feminists in religious studies such as Pamela Sue Anderson, Ellen Armour, Amy Hollywood and Grace Jantzen. Most of these thinkers reject Irigaray's proposals for women's adoption of gender-specific qualities as a form of gender essentialism. Finally, Irigaray's own spiritual path, which has been influenced by eastern religions, specifically the disciplines of yoga and tantra in Hinduism and Buddhism, is evaluated in the light of recent theoretical developments in orientalism and postcolonialism.

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