Off with Her Head!: The Denial of Women's Identity in Myth, Religion, and Culture
Howard Eilberg-Schwartz, Wendy Doniger
University of California Press, Nov 14, 1995 - Religion - 226 pages
Whereas many books look at how women's bodies are represented in different religions and cultures around the world, this work explores the site of a woman's voice and identity, her head. The female head threatens to disrupt the classic gender distinctions that link men to speech, identity, and mind while relegating women to silence, anonymity, and flesh. The contributors to this collection argue that the objectification of women as sexual and reproductive bodies results in their symbolic beheading. Decapitation occurs symbolically in myths as well as in actual practices such as veiling, head covering, and cosmetic highlighting, which by sexualizing a woman's face turns it into an extension of her body.
The essays explore how similar treatments of the female head find their unique articulation in diverse religious traditions and cultures: in Hindu myths of beheading, in Buddhist and Tantric practices and poetry about the hair of female nuns, in the resistance to veiling by early Christian women at Corinth, in contemporary veiling practices in a Turkish village, in the eroticization of the female mouth in ancient Judaism, and in Greek and Roman cosmetic practices.
Together these essays show how the depiction of the female head is critical for an understanding of gender and its influence on other fundamental religious and cultural issues.
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ancient angels Aphrodite Apollo ascetics association Avot badeken beard beauty become beheading body braided bride Buddhist castration anxiety chastity Christian Comaetho context Corinthians covering cultural decapitation depilated desire discussion divine Eilberg-Schwartz erotic eroticization essay Euripides eyes face female head female sexuality fertility Freud gaze gender gendered grammar genitals girls goddess Greek headcovering headscarf Hesiod Hindu husband intercourse Islam Israel Jewish Judaism Leach locks loose hair makeup male mouth marriage married masculinity meanings of hair medicamina Medusa metaphor metonymic Midrash Mishnah Moses myth Obeyesekere outcaste Ovid Paul Pausanias penis phallus Pliny Plutarch practice Prophecy psychoanalytic Rabbi Rabbi Akiva Religion religious Richlin ritual Roman sexual intercourse shaven head shaving significance of hair speak story suggests symbolic Talmud Tantric Tertullian texts Torah tradition trans transformation Turkey Turkish uncovered University Press unveiled vagina veil virgins voice wear wedding wife woman women women's hair women's heads word York
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