Did you ever notice that when a fantasy or sci-fi story includes female priests or female religious leaders, the religion is almost always a pagan or pagan-like one? Why is that? Perhaps it’s because in a lot of a fiction, especially within the fantasy genre, the mythology of a fictional world incorporates or is based on some type of religious belief. Because writers so often use religion to build their fictional universes, it’s possible that when creating their own fictional religions, they feel they need to remain true at least to the spirit or structure of the religion on which they are basing their fictional religion.
I don’t know about structure, but I certainly hope writers don’t feel as if the spirit of my faith, Catholicism, is all just patriarchy and female oppression. Despite this, I have never read, watched, or heard of a fictional religion based on Catholicism which features women as priests, bishops, or even, dare I say, the Pope.
I am a feminist theologian. To many of you, this may sound like an oxymoron. Just being religious and devout in my faith does not mean I am not a feminist. Furthermore, just because I am a feminist does not mean that I am not religious.
There is a large disconnect between religious feminists and secular (non-religious) feminists, and that disconnect causes a lot of problems. Many religiously-minded feminists become offended at what they see as frankly ignorant critiques of their religion by secular feminists. Most recently, many debates have raged around Muslim women who constantly feel that they have to defend their ideals and religious beliefs to western feminists, especially with certain issues like choosing to wear a hijab.
In pop culture, it is rare to ever see a character who is openly a feminist or even promotes feminist ideals. Religious people are either shown to be radicals or one of the “rare” good religious people. Pop culture shapes how we view the world. Now more than ever, with the rise of groups like Femen, the recent issues between the Catholic Church and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), and the general conflict between religion and feminism in the political world, we need religious feminists in pop culture. People need to know that belief in any sort of deity or deities does not inherently mean a believer supports sexism and oppression.