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CRITICAL ANALYSIS – WHY DO MEN NEED THE GODDESS

1. What is the main point of the article? Identify the author’s thesis (central

argument).

Rosemary Radford Ruether contained her thesis in the third paragraph:

“Gender hierarchy in patriarchal anthropology is a system of stratified relationships. The

symbolism of masculine and feminine are two parts of one system. To make the feminine side

of this system explicit in religious symbolism does not undermine, but empowers the

masculine side, while restricting woman.”

The substitute as an introduction of the thesis can be found in the first paragraph:

“Female images and symbols for the divine that have been constructed by men actually

empower themselves, often at the expense of women.”

2. How well is the argument organized? Do the points follow logically?

The essay is well organized. The introduction consists of lyrical intrigue to get readers’

interest together with clear thesis. The text is divided into chapters; each of them is supported

by sentences, which in turn are logically connected, ex. the last paragraph of “Brides in the

Bible” deals with love relation with Wisdom from “Wisdom’s Misogyny”. Titles of three

chapters (“Brides in the Bible”, “Wisdom’s Misogyny”, “Lady Love”) are metaphorically the

confirmation of thesis: woman’s attributes are used on man’s advantage. Last chapter

“Reconstructing Symbols” seems to be the conclusion, which is the Ruether’s opinion rather

than summary of the essay.

3. Make a note on the sources the author uses to back up her argumentation. Does

the choice enhance the author’s credibility/authority?

The choice of the Bible and the books mentioned in endnotes are enough to back up author’s

argumentation because of the essay’s shortage. The only thing that does not enhance
CRITICAL ANALYSIS – WHY DO MEN NEED THE GODDESS

Ruether’s credibility is the second item of the bibliography – using her own book to admit the

point. After reading her biography that implication seems to be sensible from the perspective

of the authority.

4. What is the tone of the article? Is the author reserved or emotional about the

topic she addresses? Is that good or bad?

From the beginning Rosemary Radford Ruether is rather emotional and biased. Her first

words are directed to female audience (“When we hear men talk about the goddess, we must

listen with suspicion”, where “we” means “women”). Rest of the essay focuses on historic

and informative value. I appreciate it. As a coming-back confirmation of the subjectivity of

the author’s evaluation we can add the last chapter “Reconstructing Symbols” where Ruether

feels aggrieved. It is both good and bad: author is a human being and she has the right to share

her thoughts.

5. Does the author’s background (origin, education, profession, etc.) influence her

opinion?

I am deeply sure that Ruether’s background influenced her opinion. Her mother was Roman

Catholic, her father was also engaged into religious community. She is an activist, feminist,

who wants to enclose feminist theology in the systematic way. As a free-thinker that she

semi-described herself she holds academic doctor degree. I deduce the extensive knowledge

in what she is involved.


CRITICAL ANALYSIS – WHY DO MEN NEED THE GODDESS

6. What are the main strengths of the essay?

The main strengths of the essay are: interesting topic, good division of the text with

paragraphs’ titles and sources.

7. What are the main weaknesses of the essay?

The essential cons of the essay are: extremely short conclusion, repetition (“…men empower

themselves, often at the expense of women.”) and her own book as a source.