A Woman's Glory: A Study Exploring Experiences of Spiritual Power and the Gendered Lives of Women in Two Pentecostal Communities in the USA and New Zealand
The question of whether or not feminisms can be located amongst Pentecostal and evangelical women has been widely debated in the field of women’s and gender studies (Franks, 2001; Ginsburg, 1997). Yet my research has uncovered that Pentecostal women have a unique brand of feminism through their spiritual power and submission, drawing from a distinctly female spiritual experience of Pentecostalism, when they give submission first to God before all others. Many of these practicing women employ ‘biblical feminism’ (Scanzoni & Hardesty, 1992), an aspect of feminist theology that looks at biblical representations of women through a ‘developing egalitarianism’ approach. The stories of these women were told to me by them during my ethnographic, cross cultural and comparative PhD research from September, 2012 to February, 2014. I conducted more than 60 interviews around New Zealand and River City and Fountain City, Missouri (USA), with women in two Pentecostal denominations, the Assemblies of God (AG) and the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI). Their stories are put in conversation with submission doctrine while exploring the social contexts that shape how these women experience God, faith, and themselves. In this religious and social context women’s lives are structurally and systematically different from men’s lives, thereby producing a set of different as well as differently complete knowledges (Wood, 2005:pp. 61-66). Both lay women and leaders told of the transformative power of their conversions into Pentecost and their sense of purpose through actively applied call narratives to demonstrate the aegis of their God-given authority. They spoke of having spiritual giftings like healing, prophesy, and tongues and interpretation, which they regularly enacted for the benefit of other members in their faith communities. They placed protocols around their giftings to ensure that the gift-bringer was operating under God’s authority rather than her own. Participants revealed the multi-dimensionality of submission and their own cerebral approach to the concept. This placed them in what I call woman space, a place of spiritual power constantly regenerated by the woman’s prayers and the strength of her belief that God works through her. My work uncovered that submission – given always to God before all others - is an inseparable tenet of these women’s spiritual power.
Advisor: Fitzgerald, Ruth; Jaye, Chrys
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Anthropology and Archaeology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: biblical feminism; women's spirituality; spiritual gifts; spiritual power; Pentecostal women; gendered experiences; woman space; hair and submission; women teaching women; ministerial callings; transnational research; women's experience of Pentecostalism; faith healing; submission doctrine; spirituality studies; conservative Protestant women; a woman's glory; women's community; reflexive anthropology; spirit-filled women; Holiness standards; Pentecostalism in New Zealand; submission theology; gender and oppressions; women's spiritual authority; spiritual power and embodiment; phenomenological research; Pentecostalism and feminism; creation order; Pentecostalism in Missouri
Research Type: Thesis