The word culture stems from "cult," or religion. Three Abrahamic faiths, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, share the story of the creation and origin. The story includes the crucial presence of Eve. If we all agree on Eve and her significance as the mother of humanity then, perhaps, we can start getting along better. This entails also taking stock of how each civilization has approached its women. The uses and abuses of femininity, as well as the evolving roles of women, including sex and gender, can play a significant role in trans-civilizational understanding. Those are the major premises of Professor Juliana Pilon's latest opus. I am honored and privileged to be her friend and colleague and to have witnessed the development of her intellectual tour de force.
Soulmates: Resurrecting Eve facilitates cultural diplomacy. This is neither an effort to construct a syncretic confession nor a feminist manifesto. Instead, Professor Pilon tackles cross cultural issues of male and female equality. Further, she aims to foster discourse among the Abrahamic religions. This is a stunningly ambitious project because the author proposes to fend off, at the same time, tradition bound radical Islamism, on the one hand, and rapacious revolutionary feminism, on the other.
She believes that by introducing the theme of "Eve," of the feminine presence in our cultural discourse, we can somehow strengthen pluralism which would help us overcome our differences as humans. Only with "Eve" restored to her rightful, and balancing, position in the society, can we dream of reclaiming our common roots.
In this scheme of things, for Professor Pilon, women are not alleged "victims of patriarchy." They are an indispensable ingredient of harmony. The author argues that through fostering equality of the sexes we also allow for the return of metaphor, intuition, consciousness, and dialogue, all feminine attributes, to balance dialect, logic, rules, and control, all male characteristics.
Professor Pilon eschews a primitive "gender studies" knee-jerk-egalitarian-equals-identical approach to the issue. Instead, she gladly acknowledges that women and men, while equal, are different. She would like to re-discover the Woman at the Origin and restore her properly to her place, endowing her thus with her true potential. However, unlike radical feminists, Professor Pilon proposes teleologically to weave a unique exegesis of femininity, and its exclusion, basing herself on the Biblical tradition and including the Koran. This highly exciting prospect promises tolerantly to delve into secular radicalism and religious fanaticism, and debunk both through the re-incorporation of the feminine into our global cultural, social, and, ultimately, political discourse.
As a cradle Roman Catholic, while worshiping God in his Trinity of Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, I have become used to bending my knee before the Virgin Mary and many female saints. I thus have neither use nor patience for "gender feminism." As a Westerner deeply devoted to freedom, I am averse at cuddling the Islamic radicals. However, as a scholar, what Professor Pilon proposes strikes me as profoundly innovative and extremely efficacious. Her idea is to engage both the radical feminists and the Islamists on their own turf by providing brilliant solutions to their respective quests for justice while completely obliterating the need for their rabid means. Simply, Professor Pilon would like to deconstruct the revolutionary deconstructors of Western Civilization.
I think it is just fabulous that the author has decided to challenge the stale platitudes of the enemies of the United States. She is one of the very few people conversant in both the feminist argot and the Islamist jargon. This intellectual provocation should impact profoundly our understanding of feminine and masculine dynamics on the individual, national, and global levels.
Ultimately, her work is about human dignity, equality, and freedom that we, both ladies and gentlemen, should enjoy as children of God.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Washington, DC, 24 November 2011