Lording It Over the Goddess: Water, Gender, and Human-Environmental Relations


Strang, Veronica. 2015. “Lording It Over the Goddess: Water, Gender, and Human-Environmental Relations.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 30 (1): 85–109.

Author: Veronica Strang


Focusing on human engagements with water, this article steps back from specifically cultural or historical contexts in order to trace the larger patterns of social, religious, and technological change that have transformed most societies’ relationships with their environments. It examines transitions from totemic “nature religions” to male-dominated and hierarchical belief systems, and considers how these intersected with shifts to settlement and agriculture, differentiated gender roles, and stratified socio- political arrangements. With developments in farming, enlarging societies moved from egalitarian partnerships with other species and ecosystems to more directive interactions. Irrigation channeled water into human interests. Initially seen as embodying female principles, it became the gift of male religious beings. From being a common good, it became subject to male property rights. Long understood as the substance of social and spiritual regeneration, it was reframed as an economic “asset.” Observing these transformations, the article also considers long-term contraflows: indigenous struggles; subaltern religions; and environmentalist and feminist challenges to sociopolitical inequalities. 


Topics: Development, Environment, Gender, Gender Analysis, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Gender Hierarchies, Patriarchy, Indigenous, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation, Religion, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2015

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.