Rape Culture Discourse and Female Impurity: Genesis 34 as a Case Study
In this chapter, Jessica Keady contributes to ongoing discussions about the multiple ways in which religious texts, traditions, practices, and beliefs intersect with contemporary cultural ideologies and discourses that support rape culture and gender violence. She compares biblical conceptions of rape and impurity with more contemporary rape culture and purity culture ideologies, focusing on the construction of literary rape in the biblical text of Genesis 34—the rape of Dinah. Keady argues that biblical rape texts such as Genesis 34 serve as a lens through which we can examine and critique ancient ideations of gender violence and purity; they also allow us to trace the ways in which these ideations continue to shape and inform contemporary understandings of rape. Through her close reading of the text, Keady argues that this rape narrative offers a means of critiquing ancient ideations of gender violence and purity; it also allows readers to trace the ways that these ideations continue to influence contemporary attitudes towards rape. She demonstrates this by weaving into her discussion of the Genesis text a number of contemporary accounts of gender violence, which evoke dominant discourses of female defilement and shame embedded within today’s rape and purity cultures. Through this intertextual engagement, she encourages biblical readers and interpreters to perform acts of “political resistance” to biblical ideologies that sustain these toxic cultures, and to evaluate the significance and influence that such ancient ideologies continue to have today.
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