Media, Religion and Gender

European Workshop “Gender, Media and Religion” organized by Blanquerna Observatory on Media, Religion and Culture in Barcelona (June 2014) in the framework of the European Riseci Project (Religion in the Shaping of European Cultural Identity).

Religion does not move easily between liquidity and transmodernity, and it is not a secret that resistance to new dynamic concepts affect the vast majority of religious denominations. Nevertheless, religion is defined by its ability to   make connections between different entities and also to adapt to different cultures and social trends. In recent years, we have seen   a proliferation of new concepts that challenge religious values. And gender is certainly one of the most complex and urgent ones.

The gender question is more and more at the core of internal religious debates. It is not only about Femen demonstrations, feminist religious historical reviews or internal feminist demands within religious organizations. It is about how religions picture themselves in an evolving landscape where gender is not merely an appendix.

According to Liikkanen, gender is constructed in and through every space in society, including the institutional spaces of public domain. But do religious traditions really accept gender as a construct?

The main preoccupation of religions has not been the construction of the self. Religions have a strong bond with salvation and also with self-realization. So, the question of gender cannot be avoided.

Lipovetsky defines Western society as hypermodern, a society of excess and the surpassing of all kinds of limits. Gender also questions the limits. And by questioning that, it calls into question the idea of the body as well, and the whole idea of the self.

For some religious leaders, gender is not even a concept; they are reluctant to use the word, and if they use it, it is with negative connotations. Gender seems to be more the fruit of atheistic   worldviews than a question that affects religions.

Many of the most profound discussions on gender and religion   focus on the question of change, free will and natural acceptance. Is gender a given, or is gender a dynamic entity that could evolve according to personal will or collective legitimation? In this very complex, very difficult, very risky, very dangerous world, to put it in Bauman’s words, both religion and gender become very complex, very difficult, very risky and even very dangerous concepts to deal with.

Gender carries resonances of a broader and much more complex aspect: identity. It is not surprising that for some religious traditions, gender is not an easy question to tackle. Expressions like “gender ideology” or “gender deviance” are never far from certain current religious discourses. Gender is troubling precisely because it deals with identity; and identity has to do with power.

In this book we aim to hear a range of voices that reflect the diverse and reflect the great plurality of cultural views on those aspects that lie at the crossroad between media, religion and gender.