the raped virgin

THE RAPED VIRGIN | Oil on canvas | 40" W x 40" H

iblical scholars have long ago rejected the virgin birth of Jesus as literal truth. In fact, some experts speculate that Mary was a violated woman. Indeed, this metaphor vividly illustrates how Christianity rising from its Judaic roots forced the feminine aspects of God into submission.

Having evolved from the worshippers of Yahweh, an early Judaic religion that had subverted its rival Goddess religions, the Christian Church was founded on a system of male privilege, where God is a Father Creator who made woman for man. Anything to do with the Goddess, and thus, the woman, was made inferior. From the Old Testament to the writings of Paul, the Bible is openly biased against women, putting them under the rule of men. Even a woman without sin, the “Blessed One”, as the myth relates to Mary, cannot choose her station in life or make reproductive decisions about her body. She is made pregnant by a divine order from God, the Father, to give birth to the Savior, a procreative pawn in a story about Jesus’s birth.

Today, women continue to take their husbands’ surnames at marriage, a tradition that’s tied to the days when wives were property. As long as our culture continues to accept God exclusively as male, women will be discounted, raped, underpaid, objectified and killed for their perceived inferiority. Women must claim their divinity and refuse to be held down by the heavy hand of a male god any longer. The essence of Christ IS also the essence of femininity — giving birth to new life, love, compassion, forgiveness and peace.

THE RAPED VIRGIN | GRAPHITE ON PAPER | Drawing for the painting

When I painted the oil study for The Raped Virgin, I eliminated the hooded woman in order to get the figures as large as possible on a 40” by 40” canvas. Having decided that painting the figure at life-size conveys more intimacy and impact, this graphite study approximates a composition for the proposed large-scale oil involving three figures: the angel, the virgin who was raped, and a comforting family member.

© Copyright 1993, 2015 Becki Jayne Harrelson