By Janice Fiamengo: “I often joke with people that feminism has been like a born-again religion for me—that once I found it and let it into my life, my entire perspective shifted in such a way that suddenly, everything made sense—and that I feel compelled to spread that gospel,” writes Melissa Fabello in Everyday Feminism.Fabello says she is joking—but is she? In creed and conduct, belief and behaviour, isn’t feminism actually a secular religion?
Religion is a belief system that explains the origin and purpose of life, posits a spiritual or supernatural dimension to human existence, involves faith in what cannot be definitively known, and results in the radically changed understanding and behaviour of the believer.
Feminists do not usually define feminism as a religion but as a social science. Feminism postulates that most societies, and certainly all western societies, have been structured to reflect male perspectives and experiences while marginalizing female perspectives and experiences. Feminism thus presents itself as an evidence-based analysis of society and relationships.
But feminist methodology does not stop at the well-defined boundaries of social science. It ventures beyond these parameters and enters the realm of religion in its adherence to myths and unverifiable theories. Professor Mary Daly at Boston College, even seeks to go “beyond God the Father” (the title of her most influential book). Furthermore, feminists often describe their identity and understanding of the world in quasi-religious terms.