I differentiate between ‘the feminine’, both historically and in the present, and women as sexed female subjects. I consider whether Jung's idea of archetypes might be a form of essentialism, an a priori claim on (one’s) being, but conclude that they nevertheless contribute to a contemporary understanding of women and the feminine. I explore the notion of women’s experience, and women’s religious experience specifically. I argue for the inclusion of all women’s experience, while I simultaneously allow that experience might be contaminated by patriarchal beliefs, structures, and language.
I argue that Luce Irigaray’s insistence on sexuate difference provides a fertile possibility for inquiry into the nature of the feminine and the experience of women. The concept of ‘sexuate’ difference articulates the different modes of being and becoming for men and women, in bodily, social, linguistic, aesthetic, erotic, and political and religious forms. Further, Luce Irigaray’s notions of genealogy reveal stylistic variation of a feminine way, and allow for multiple expressions of femininity. Having established sexuate difference as foundational, I begin an in-depth critical analysis of how this applies to the body, language and spirituality of women.