Shame, the Church and the Regulation of Female Sexuality

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Miryam Clough
Gender, Theology and Spirituality
  • New York, NY: 
    , March
     218 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Kristen Neilsen Donnelly forthcoming.


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.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

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

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