Women in Biblical Tradition
Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Kathryn Smith
January 15, 2003
"Gender and Social Roles "

I.   Gender as a Social Category
A.   Are the meanings attached to "masculinity" and "feminity" socially constructed or are they innately "given?"
1.   Socially Constructed
a.   Depends on surroundings (girls raised by fathers)
b.   Athletic opinion
c.   Economic position
i.   Times of peace - specific jobs mirrored each other between gender
ii.   Times of war - specific jobs contrasted each other between gender
2.   Innately Constructed
a.   Athletic ability
b.   Natural tendencies (girls still want dolls, still be desired, males still like "guns" and still be respected)
c.   Reproductive ability
i.   Physical & emotional reactions to sexual activity
ii.   Time of pregnancy - women (with out birth control & shorter lives) often spent a majority of their live pregnant
B.   If they are socially constructed, what is the warrant for those constructs
C.   Defining "Women" as "Other"
1.   According to Kay: stereotypes were constructed during the medieval period
2.   Stereotypes
a.   Gossipy
b.   Stupid
c.   Temptress
D.   Women as subjects in the Hebrew Bible
1.   Ruth
2.   Esther
3.   Deborah
II.   The Bible and Patriarchy
A.   Though patriarchy preexisted the Bible, The Bible was not written to construct it" (Frymer-Kensky, xiv)
B.   Separating moral concerns from patriarchal social structure
C.   Gender as a category for constructing social hierarchies
III.   Marriage, Virginity, & Israel's Destiny
A.   "The personal is political" (Frymer-Kensky, xx)
1.   Political means having to do/deal with the people
2.   Sexuality and gender had as much to do with society as it did to intimacy
B.   The connection
1.   Marriage entails group survival
2.   Virginity and marrying inside the group ensure group unity and consistency
3.   Thus these areas are social sites of danger and vulnerability
4.   Women's stories tell Israel's story most persuasively
5.   Women, like Israel, are depicted as socially disadvantaged but not inferior