Gender Differences: The Definition Of Androgyny

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Androgyny is defined “in its most basic form, as the male and female in one body or entity” (Thurman, 58). Shaker theology is grounded on the fact that the spirit encompasses both, male and female, aspects, which in turn places male and female believers on equal playing fields. Both sexes have equal access to the gospel and equal opportunities to spread the word. Shakers also believe that the most defining difference between the sexes is reproduction. By removing this expectation of women, men and women can then be viewed as equals. The practice of celibacy has deep roots in the Christian tradition, but not necessarily as a means to provide equality for women and men (Foster, 21). By drawing upon literature from other traditions, the Shakers …show more content…
These new standards for classification are based on the new “androgynous ideal” (Thurman, 56). This “androgynous ideal” is the state to which Shakers aspired to reach (Thurman, 58). If they are able to achieve this then both, males and females, will be equally valued by the community. This involves not privileging one sex over the other and placing balanced emphasis on traditional male and female characteristics. One fundamental tenet of Shakerism is that “the Church is not composed of man without the woman, but both are united in the Lord…such a union and relation sprang from a first man and woman who were thus united (Whitson, 225). This idea, presented in Genesis, merges the belief of the androgynous nature of the Lord with the concept that both male and female characteristics are values within the …show more content…
By emphasizing the androgynous nature of God, both, women and men, could identify with qualities of God and strive to achieve this ideal androgynous state. This ideal state can only be achieved if women and men are respected and viewed as equals by the community. By incorporating celibacy into the doctrine, Shakers were able to remove the defining characteristic that kept women from pursuing their full spiritual potential and fostered an environment where women’s ability to participate in discipleship was respected. Within the doctrine that provided a basis for an androgynous God, Shakers were able to create a figure that women and men could identify with and strive to be like. This led to the implementation of celibacy because expectations for sexual reproduction was viewed as keeping women from being on the same level as men. As a result, the Shaker community was able to redefine gender and traditional gender roles to foster an environment that allowed the beliefs of both, men and women, to flourish. By challenging traditional religious beliefs, such as those of Christianity, the Shakers were able to provide a religious alternative to those who supported religious and social equality of men and

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