Kidd, Sue Monk. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (1996)
HarperCollins, 238 pages, $12.95 trade paperback
Long before Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees hit the bestseller lists, Kidd was an established Christian inspirational writer and speaker. Then suddenly one day an incident involving her teenage daughter sent her on a years-long journey to discover the role of women—and therefore of herself—in society, in the universe, and in the spiritual world.
Although Kidd’s Southern Baptist upbringing had taught her that women are—and are meant to be—subordinate to men, through research she “began to discover that for many thousands of years before the rise of the Hebrew religion, in virtually every culture of the world, people worshiped the Supreme Being in the form of a female deity–the Great Goddess” (134). This discovery sent her on a quest to rediscover the sacred feminine that traditional religion has for thousands of years denied. For Kidd, this was not simply a research project, but rather a deeply personal investigation into how she, as a woman, fit into an all-encompassing spiritual realm:
Reclaiming the ancient feminine consciousness as a model of what’s possible, integrating it into the world as it is now evolving, and balancing it with masculine symbol, image, and power together allow us to go forward and create an utterly new consciousness, one large enough and strong enough to carry us into the future. (p. 145)
This spiritual quest affected Kidd profoundly and up-ended every aspect of her life. In this moving memoir she puts her considerable writing skills to work to explain how she reached the conclusion that “What is ultimately needed is balance–divine symbols that reflect masculine and feminine and a genuine marriage of the masculine and feminine in each of us” (p. 189).
“The Divine Feminine is returning to collective consciousness, all right. She’s coming, and it will happen whether we’re ready or not” (p. 99), Kidd warns. Like the ancient oracle, she seems to have predicted the best-selling suspense novel of summer 2003, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
I encourage all women, particularly those in midlife, to read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.
© 2003 by Mary Daniels Brown