Women and violence : a feminist theological ethical study
By popular cultural assumption, women are less aggressive than men, and 'woman' can therefore be constructed as an image of peacefulness. This construction is a myth that needs to be questioned in the interests of proper attention to the varied experiences and circumstances of women's lives. Questioning this myth involves better description of a variety of ways in which women encounter violence - illustrated here by discussion of assaults against women in intimate relationships, women as members of military forces, women’s experiences of wartime, and discussion and campaigning by women on the subjects of war and peacemaking. This kind of description values women's discourse and experiences, the range of which is expressive of great differences among women. Feminist theological ethics is a suitable tool for evaluating these experiences, and for promoting the good of women and men in the face of violence. Feminist theological ethics emerges out of non-theological feminist ethics and feminist theology. This double root ensures that (from feminist theory) ethics is not seen as entirely separated from politics, particularly along a gendered public/private divide, and also that (from feminist theology) ethics is not separated from other areas of theological enquiry. Evaluation of women’s experiences out of feminist theological ethical concerns highlights a need for a modified universalism which will allow injustice to be challenged, and for the rebuilding of the relationship between theological conceptions of love and justice so that theological ethics can be more responsive to the context and material realities of human lives. Feminist theological ethics illuminates ways in which different forms of violence, in the so-called public or private spheres, interact and affect each other. One possible relation of women to military forces and to militarism can thereby be constructed, and a broadened discussion of war encouraged.