The da Vinci Code and the Regressive Gender Politics of Celebrating Women

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The public outcry prompted by The da Vinci Code (TDVC) accused the novel of being a “radical feminist” text with potentially dangerous implications for Christianity. The novel celebrates women, the “sacred feminine,” and “goddess worship,” which, on one level, gives it ideological kinship with the important tradition of difference or cultural feminism. This analysis, however, argues that the novel undercuts its feminist moves through its persistent recourse to the private sphere and its unremitting celebration of the biological. The narrative falls victim to the problem that commonly inheres in difference/cultural feminism: it reifies the binary system of gender as well as the resulting heterosexuality. Through these anti-feminist impulses, TDVC makes plain that celebrating women does not always make for feminist progress. Instead, TDVC highlights the dangers inherent in cultural/difference feminism. Finally, situated within its religious context, TDVC demonstrates the possibility for feminism's co-optation by moral reform politics.
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