Subject Area



Despite its ubiquity in nearly all academic disciplines, gender has remained a contested concept, so much so that there is considerable ambiguity regarding what makes one a woman or a man and what relation such traits have with the human body. Debates typically polarize around the positions of gender essentialism and social constructionism, though both have been shown to have serious limitations. Additionally, theologians have typically approached these debates either by understanding gender as a category for sustained investigation but finding that the tools and virtues of theology are ill-suited for doing so, or by retaining the tools and virtues of theology but keeping gender at arm’s length. The motivating principle of this dissertation is that both bifurcations—between essentialism and social construction, between treating gender seriously or retaining theological fidelity—are false. Instead, the dissertation attempts to provide a model for gender’s basic features that is accountable to the broader conversation while employing the recognizable tools of theology. After specifying what those are, it proposes that gender is the appropriation of social goods according to the sexed body, where the means of appropriation is primarily through what one loves.

Degree Date

Spring 5-15-2021

Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies


William J. Abraham

Second Advisor

D. Stephen Long

Third Advisor

James K.H. Lee

Fourth Advisor

Beth Felker Jones

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License