Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Shame : the church and female sexuality
Author: Clough , Miryam
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 3131
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
This thesis explores a hypothesis that shame has historically been, and continues to be, used by the patriarchal Christian Church as a mechanism to control and regulate female sexuality and to displace men's ambivalence about sex. Using historical examples of shame appraised in the light of contemporary feminist theological and theoretical scholarship and supported by insights from sociology, psychology, neuroscience and psychoanalysis, the thesis seeks to understand why the Church as an institution has colluded with the shaming of individuals and why women are overtly shamed on account of, and indeed take the blame for sex. An enquiry into men's sexual ambivalence suggests that the violence that too often accompanies it in masculinist systems is generated by unacknowledged shame and existential anxiety. Shame strikes at the heart of human individuals rupturing relationships, extinguishing joy and enthusiasm for life and, at times, provoking conflict and violence. The thesis examines whether the avoidance of shame is functional in men's efforts to adhere to patriarchal gender norms and religious ideals (is shame avoidance experienced as crucial to men's survival as the dominant gender), and whether women 'carry the can' for this. A study of Ireland's Magdalen laundries is used as a means of elucidating and illustrating the role of shame more specifically in the Irish Catholic Church, and as such the thesis primarily engages with a period that began with the founding of the asylums (as they were then known) in the late 1700s, saw the closure of the last Magdalen laundry in Dublin in 1996, and is presently witnessing calls to redress this shaming and shameful treatment of women. This case study is chosen for the light it sheds on the broader context of the Christian churches as they engage (or not) with current feminist and gender concerns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available