Latina Feminist Theology

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In her 2002 article on Latina Feminist Theology, Maria Pilar Aquino’s main focus, as she states in her article’s title, is to provide the central features of Latina Feminist Theology. In effect, what Aquino is concerned with is outlining the theory and practice of Latina Feminist Theology, especially as a particular way that Latina women do theology from their situatedness of being Latina and being a woman. One important place in the article that I wanted to extrapolate is her notion that Latina Feminist Theology is grounded on what she calls the “current context of reality.” Aquino highlights this in the following passage: “Latina feminist theology expresses, in religious language, our commitment and vision…” She continues with setting up this vision as a “new model of society,” one that is uniquely “free of systemic injustice and violence” and constructed not on patriarchal domination but on “sustain[ing] human dignity and the integrity of creation.” What lies at the core of Aquino’s idea of Latina feminist theology –that is, how Latina women do theology –is the importance of religious language.

As Aquino seems to suggest, religious language is at the very heart of how Latina women do theology. This is particularly important since, as Martin Heidegger argues in On the Way to Language, “being is the house of language.” Aquino is operating from this very perspective: how Latina women do theology, how they express their being and extend their being-in-the-world is “housed” in the language that they use. Language, in this case, becomes the means by which being is expressed, but also the vehicle through which knowledge moves beyond the conceivable and the graspable. For the Latina feminist theology, with Aquino as a prime example, language as the expressible form of knowledge is construed through speaking to the power structures inherent in society, speaking to the patriarchal domination that is present in such a society, and speaking to the ways in which such a society marginalizes, oppresses, and relegates Latina women to entities of non-being. In this regard, language becomes a way to authenticate “being,” something that concretizes being-in-the-world as valid and essential, even in the face of oppressive and marginalizing social structures. Here, especially, when the Latina feminist theologian engages in language as a  for meaning-making, they specifically employ religious language to express being-in-the-world in relation to God’s “Being” and, then, equating God’s “Being” as the first cause of all beings.

In order to understand what Aquino calls “the current context of reality,” the use of religious language of a Latina feminist theologian seeks to explain the existential situation in which the Latina woman finds themselves. This situation is based on a series of facticities, which culminate with a being-in-the-world limited by gender, race, social status, and so forth. What religious language does, if considering the importance Aquino places on it, is that it quantifies the current context of reality. I see this “current context of reality” as the unique existential situation that, as Heidegger and Paul Tillich argue, is predicated on being thrown into the world. When the Latina feminist theologian recognizes that they have been thrown into the world, religious language is used to negotiate their problematic being-in-the-world and, subsequently, arguing that their “being” is as essential, meaningful, and purposeful as other beings in the world.

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