Christian Femininity

Christian femininity  is defined  by  the  constant play  of  chaste  or  seductive, good  or  evil   with  seductiveness being  evil  and  chaste meaning good. This is a false dichotomy   created and used by the early church fathers to depict women in alignment with patriarchal norms.   Tibbets Jane Schulenburg states that “although patriarchal church Fathers showered the highest praise on virgins who denied their sex, they viewed female nature as fragile, weak, and in general, as participating in the carnal..”  (Schulenburg 127-175  1998)The female body is defined by its sexuality whether, a woman is described as pure and chaste or whether it is described as sinful and lustful because of the Church fathers doctrinal use of Eve. Hence women who practiced celibacy and virginity were practicing self-control because they upheld their virginity. Some of the female virgins and martyrs struggle with the unchaste thoughts because of this fight between chaste and seduction for females and their sexuality.For example Amma Sarah one of the desert mothers called this struggle, the demon of fornication. Sarah for thirteen years of her life waged war against the “demon of fornication however she asked God for strength rather than the struggle with fornication be ended by God. Amma Sarah who was attacked many times by this demon of fornication but she did not succumb but instead gave herself to God or as Benedicta Ward said “ to the fear of God and to asceticism.  ( Ward   229-230   1984)
Schulenburg, Jane Tibbetts. “At What Cost Virginity? Sanctity and the Heroics of Virginity.” In Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500-1100, 127-175. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998
Ward, Benedicta, ed The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: the Alphabetical Collection. Revised ed. Kalamazoo, MI: Liturgical Press, 1984.



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