Is ovarian cancer the end of womanhood? : a feminist theological engagement

Minnaar, Tayla Amy (2018-03)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is a study of the contemporary notions of the body that may seem to challenge concepts of womanhood among women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer who, as a result, may not be able to bear children. The research engages with certain social, biblical and political ideas of what it means to be a woman, and how these social perspectives impact and influence women's identities as a whole, especially when one's body no longer performs the way it did before. These notions will be viewed through a theological lens. Social notions of motherhood influence the ideology of womanhood socially, emotionally and psychologically, which implicates how women understand their own femininity, sexuality and their bodies. The aim of this project?? is to reconstruct the social and Christian assumption that women are created for the purpose of childbirth and mothering. The intention of this research is to critically engage with the complex ideologies and concepts of motherhood and womanhood, how theology plays a role in both reinforcing and/or addressing this ideology and to criticise theological and social engagement between body theology and ideas of motherhood. This will be done by using a qualitative research method since it will engage with existing secondary research on women with ovarian cancer. This research will be a descriptive and a critical analysis of the social and political nature of society and media and how it plays a role in the self –identity of women and their femininity. In addition, feminist theologians including Lisa Isherwood and Gayle Letherby have contributed significantly as secondary sources to widen the critical theological engagement and discussion on body theology and womanhood. In chapter 2, the research will describe key medical procedures before and after women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, to illustrate the emotional, psychological and physical trauma women experience from ovarian cancer. Chapter 2 introduces social notions and implications of sexuality, body theology, motherhood, and womanhood. These notions are then critically engaged within Chapter 3, where the intersectionality of these social issues is interlinked through the health condition of ovarian cancer. Chapter 4 of the research communicates the theological complexity of ideologies of motherhood and engages with both voluntary and involuntary childlessness. In addition, chapter 4 suggests the need for church engagement with the social construction of motherhood and draws on a West African conference in Nigeria as a primary source. The study is then concluded by summarising the research findings of ideologies of womanhood, childbirth, and motherhood and problematizing this critical social construction through a theological engagement with body theology. It suggests further research should be done in future to help develop a richer research project.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis is 'n studie van die hedendaagse persepsies van die liggaam wat blykbaar konsepte van vroulikheid onder vroue wat met eierstokkanker gediagnoseer word, uitdaag en dus nie kinders kan hê nie. Die navorsing hou verband met die sosiale, Bybelse en politieke idee van wat dit beteken om 'n vrou te wees en hoe hierdie sosiale perspektiewe ‘n impak maak op die vrou se identiteit en dit beïnvloed, veral as die liggaam nie meer funksioneer soos dit voorheen gedoen het nie, sal hierdie konsepte gesien word deur 'n teologiese lens. Hierdie sosiale persepsies van moederskap beïnvloed die ideologie van vroulikwees sosiaal, emosioneel en sielkundig, wat beïnvloed hoe vroue hul eie vroulikheid, seksualiteit en hul liggame verstaan. Die doel is om die sosiale en Christelike aanname dat vroue geskep word vir die doel van voortplanting en moederskap, te rekonstrueer. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is om krities die komplekse ideologie en konsep van moederskap en vrouwees aan te spreek, hoe teologie 'n rol speel in die aanspreek van hierdie ideologie en om die teologiese en sosiale interaksie tussen die (body) liggaamsteologie1 en moederskap te kritiseer. Dit sal gedoen word deur gebruik te maak van kwalitatiewe navorsing, aangesien dit navorsing sal wees met betrekking tot vroue met eierstokkanker. Hierdie navorsing sal 'n beskrywende en kritiese analise wees van die sosiale en politieke aard van die samelewing en die media en hoe dit 'n rol speel in die selfidentiteit van vroue en hul vroulikheid. Daarbenewens het feministiese teoloë, waaronder Lisa Isherwood en Gayle Letherby, ‘n betekenisvol bygedra as sekondêre bronne gelewer om die kritiese teologiese aanknoping en bespreking oor liggaams-teologie en vroulikheid te verbreed. In hoofstuk 2 sal die navorsing die mediese prosedures beskryf voor en na vroue met eierstokkanker gediagnoseer word. Dit help om die emosionele, sielkundige en fisiese trauma wat vroue ondervind met eierstokkanker te illustreer. Hoofstuk 2 help om die sosiale persepsies en implikasies van seksualiteit, liggaamsteologie, moederskap en vroulikheid bekend te stel. Hierdie begrippe is krities aangspreek in hoofstuk 3 waar die oorvleuelings van elk van hierdie sosiale kwessies verbind word deur die gesondheidstoestand van eierstokkanker asook hoe dit aan mekaar verbind word. Hoofstuk 4 van die navorsing bespreek die teologiese kompleksiteit van die ideologie van moederskap en betrek vrywillige en onwillekeurige kinderloosheid. Daarbenewens stel hoofstuk 4 kerklike betrokkenheid voor by die sosiale konstruksie van moederskap en verwys na 'n Wes-Afrikaanse konferensie as 'n primêre bron. Die studie word dan afgesluit deur die navorsingsbevindinge van die ideologie van vroulikwees, bevalling en moederskap op te som en hierdie kritiese sosiale konstruksie deur middel van 'n teologiese betrokkenheid te problematiseer. Dit dui daarop dat verdere navorsing in die toekoms gedoen moet word om 'n ryker navorsing te help ontwikkel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103449
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