1st Edition

Shame, the Church and the Regulation of Female Sexuality

By Miryam Clough Copyright 2017
    218 Pages
    by Routledge

    218 Pages
    by Routledge

    Shame strikes at the heart of human individuals rupturing relationships, extinguishing joy and, at times, provoking conflict and violence. This book explores the idea that shame has historically been, and continues to be, used by an oftentimes patriarchal Christian Church as a mechanism to control and regulate female sexuality and to displace men’s ambivalence about sex.

    Using a study of Ireland’s Magdalen laundries as a historical example, contemporary feminist theological and theoretical scholarship are utilised to examine why the Church as an institution has routinely colluded with the shaming of individuals, and moreover why women are consistently and overtly shamed on account of, and indeed take the blame for, sex. In addition, the text asks whether the avoidance of shame is in fact functional in men’s efforts to adhere to patriarchal gender norms and religious ideals, and whether women end up paying the price for the maintenance of this system.

    This book is a fresh take on the issue of shame and gender in the context of religious belief and practice. As such it will be of significant interest to academics in the fields of Religious Studies, but also History, Psychology and Gender Studies.


    1 Overview

    2 Towards an Understanding of Shame

    3 Shame: Affect and Emotion

    4 Shaming the Feminine

    5 Embodied Shame

    6 Sexual Ambivalence: Why Men Shame Women about Sex

    7 Shame and Transgressive Female Sexuality in Ireland

    8 Reforming the Feminine: The Magdalen Laundries



    Miryam Clough received her PhD on shame and female sexuality from the University of Bristol, UK, and has written on the topic of shame in a variety of contexts.

    "This work is mandatory to anyone looking to study religion on the island of Ireland; anyone engaging with state control of citizen’s bodies; anyone looking at collusion between institutional churches and state governments; and anyone engaging with shame research."

    - Kristen Nielsen Donnelly, Independent Scholar