A Queer-Feminist Reading of the Book of Hosea: From Stigma to Healing
This essay reads the Book of Hosea with keywords such as gender fluidity, gender reversal, the construction of femininity and masculinity, stigma and stigma effects, overflowing love, healing and salvation beyond stigma, shame, and wounds. In particular, we read the book from a queer-feminist perspective, focusing on three topics as below.
First, in the metaphors of Hosea we observe that all characters, including Hosea, Yahweh, Gomer, and Israel, are fluid in gender norms and roles of masculinity and femininity. Yahweh and Israel in particular are often described in gender reversal metaphors for men and women. Hosea and Gormer are described as violating manhood and womanhood, respectively. This essay uses anthropologists’ researches and queer criticism to demonstrate that characters violate the norms of masculinity and femininity and show broad gender expressions.
Second, we interpret the characters in fresh ways by connecting sociologists’ discussions on stigma with construction of masculinity and femininity. Gomer is branded “promiscuous” because she pursues sexual and economic autonomy. Pointing out that the brand is a profile that patriarchal culture puts on women, we observe that behind this stigma there are not only the stigma on male characters as "unmanly men," but also the stigma effect on them.
Third, this essay argues that the metaphors of gender fluidity and gender reversal function as media of healing and salvation messages to overcome stigma, shame, and wounds in the Book of Hosea. Yahweh’s images move from a husband in the beginning of the Book to the images of women such as mother, female bear and lioness in the later part of the Book and head to the climax of proclaiming the message of salvation (Chapter 14). We see that Yahweh, who loves more than the disobedient Israel, has overflowing love that willingly takes shame and stigma. In fact, this overflowing love is actually characteristics of all of the main characters and a key message of the Book of Hosea. As such, Hosea’s metaphors and messages proclaim the love and healing of an expansive and inclusive God beyond the norms and heteronormativity of who to love and how much to love.