The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine

by Sue Monk Kidd
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The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine by Sue Monk Kidd

Still, the initial idea of telling my story in this book gave me pause. The hardest thing about writing is telling the truth. Maybe it's the hardest thing about being a woman, too. I think of Nisa, the old African woman who was telling her story . . . She said, "I will tell my talk . . . but don't let the people I live with hear what I have to say . . . I know that feeling. But in the end, Nisa and I, we told our truth anyway.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060645885
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/02/1996
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of the bestselling novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, as well as the award-winning The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and God's Joyful Surprise.


Charleston, South Carolina

Place of Birth:

Albany, Georgia


B.S., Texas Christian University, 1970

Read an Excerpt

Part One


"That's How I Like to See a Woman"

It was autumn, and everything was turning loose. I was running errands that afternoon. Rain had fallen earlier, but now the sun was out, shining on the tiny beads of water that clung to trees and sidewalks. The whole world seemed red and yellow and rinsed with light. I parked in front of the drugstore where my daughter, Ann, fourteen, had an after-school job. Leaping a puddle, I went inside.

I spotted her right away kneeling on the floor in the toothpaste section, stocking a bottom shelf I was about to walk over and say hello when I noticed two middle-aged men walking along the aisle toward her. They looked like everybody's father. They had moussed hair, and they wore knit sportshirts the color of Easter eggs, the kind of shirts with tiny alligators sewn at the chest. It was a detail I would remember later as having ironic symbolism.

My daughter did not see them coming. Kneeling on the floor, she was intent on getting the boxes of Crest lined up evenly. The men stopped, peering down at her. One man nudged the other. He said, "Now that's how I like to see a woman--on her knees."

The other man laughed.

Standing in the next aisle, I froze. I watched the expression that crept into my daughter's eyes as she looked up. I watched her chin drop and her hair fall across her face.

Seeing her kneel at these men's feet while they laughed at her subordinate posture pierced me through.

For the previous couple of years I had been in the midst of a tumultuous awakening. I had been struggling to come to terms with my life as a woman--in my culture, my marriage, myfaith, my church, and deep inside myself. It was a process not unlike the experience of conception and labor. There had been a moment, many moments really, when truth seized me and I "conceived" myself as woman. Or maybe I reconceived myself. At any rate, it had been extraordinary and surprising to find myself--a conventionally religious woman in my late thirties--suddenly struck pregnant with a new consciousness, with an unfolding new awareness of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be spiritual as a woman.

Hard labor had followed. For months I'd inched along, but lately I'd been stuck. I'd awakened enough to know that I couldn't go back to my old way of being a woman, but the fear of going forward was paralyzing. So I'd plodded along, trying to make room for the new consciousness that was unfolding in my life but without really risking change.

I have a friend, a nurse on the obstetrical floor at a hospital, who says that sometimes a woman's labor simply stalls. The contractions grow weak, and the new life, now quite distressed, hangs precariously. The day I walked into the drugstore, I was experiencing something like that. A stalled awakening.

Who knows, I may have stalled interminably if I had not seen my daughter on her knees before those laughing men. I cannot to this day explain why the sight of it hit me so forcibly. But to borrow Kafka's image, it came like an ice ax upon a frozen sea, and suddenly all my hesitancy was shattered. Just like that.

The men's laughter seemed to go on and on. I felt like a small animal in the road, blinded by the light of a truck, knowing some terrible collision is coming but unable to move. I stared at my daughter on her knees before these men and could not look away. Somehow she seemed more than my daughter; she was my mother, my grandmother, and myself. She was every woman ever born, bent and contained in a small, ageless cameo that bore the truth about "a woman's place."

In the profile of my daughter I saw the suffering of women, the confining of the feminine to places of inferiority, and I experienced a collision of love and pain so great I had to reach for the counter to brace myself.

This posture will not perpetuate itself in her life, I thought.

Still I didn't know what to do. When I was growing up, if my mother had told me once, she'd told me a thousand times, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I'd heard this from nearly everybody. It was the kind of thing that got cross-stitched and hung in kitchens all over my native South.

I'd grown up to be a soft-voiced, sweet-mouthed woman who, no matter how assailing the behavior before me or how much I disagreed with it, responded nicely or else zip-locked my mouth shut. I had swallowed enough defiant, disputatious words in my life to fill a shelf of books.

But it occurred to me that if I abandoned my daughter at that moment, if I simply walked away and was silent, the feminine spirit unfolding inside her might also become crouched and silent. Perhaps she would learn the internal posture of being on her knees.

The men with their blithe joke had no idea they had tapped a reservoir of pain and defiance in me. It was rising now, unstoppable by any earthly force.

I walked toward them. "I have something to say to you, and I want you to hear it," I said.

They stopped laughing. Ann looked up.

"This is my daughter," I said, pointing to her, my finger shaking with anger. "You may like to see her and other women on their knees, but we don't belong there. We don't belong there!"

Ann rose to her feet. She glanced sideways at me, sheer amazement spread over her face, then turned and faced the men. I could hear her breath rise and fall with her chest as we stood there shoulder to shoulder, staring at their faces . . .

Dance of the Dissident Daughter, The. Copyright © by Sue Monk Kidd. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Book_Museum More than 1 year ago
This book is one that I return to often. It is, however, a hard pill for those who come across it who are not ready or willing to hear about a person's experience with searching for a Heavenly Mother. Many feel she puts down men, but I see no such thing, in fact the opposite; she points out that Patriarchy is as hurtful to men as it is to women. She also acknowledges that Matriarchy isn't the right way either. If you chose to read the book please keep an open mind and read the whole thing. It's a journey with stages that take years. I found this book with it's spiritual feminism to be a breath of fresh air from text that speak only about feminism in regards to the "horrid past" and only dealing with sex or filled with anger without catharsis. This is a wonderful book for women who come from orthodox religious backgrounds (Catholic, LDS/mormon, Judaism, S. Baptist) You are not alone in your quest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a woman reared in an italian-catholic household and educated in parochial schools in the 1950's, this book took me so far inside myself and my issues with the patriarchal influences, that I had to stop reading it for a period of time. It ached to read the author's experience with the reality of her religious practices and beliefs. So much of my own spiritual journey has been revisited with this book. It is wonderful! Sue Monk Kidd did the Divine Feminine a wonderful honor here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank you for your wonderful book, I understand and have experiencced and still experiencing the author's fear, solitude and upheaval of casting aside all preconceived notions of our patriarcal society. It has been about 12 years that I have been waking up, I have felt that I was alone in my beliefs and the guilt of unlearning all that was taught to me by the Christian faith. I listen now to what is inside of me, to follow my instincts and to accept that it is right for me. It is a comfort to realize that you are not alone in your beliefs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sue Monk-Kidd is such an evocative writer, I felt like I was by her side through her entire journey. Even though I haven't shared her struggle with traditional Christianity in the same way and have read a lot on goddess spirituality and creation spirituality, I still found her personal journey just that - personal and moving. I think 'Cant' Have it Both Ways' missed some pages. Monk-Kidd specifically addresses the need to retain the masculine divine but include the feminine thereby creating a balanced partnership and a balance of values.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this book. It has helped me to gain clarity and articulation in the wake of a complete upheaval of my past spiritual experience (Christian tradition). This book was an oasis for me. It is wonderful to finally begin to hear the whispers of my female spiritual voice! I want to reach this place in my journey of balance,' divine symbols that reflect masculine and feminine'. This book was a tremendous encouragement to keep listening for and pursuing the sacred feminine. It is time for Her to rise to her rightful place!
JLAK More than 1 year ago
Sue Monk Kidd had a dilemma at one point in her life when she felt that there was a Patriarcal image in religious life. Women were not leaders in most churches and the word "He" was used most frequently in the Bible. It was at this time that she felt women were hidden behind a curtain as was the Wizard in OZ. She questioned and found that there were many references to men as leaders in churches while women were in the background. I had to continue reading because I felt that way myself in many instances. Sue Monk Kidd began to deal with her feelings of Patriarchy by attending retreats and being a part of nature to understand her feelings and come alive again. As a spiritual writer, Kidd, often spoke to groups with varies reactions by her audiences regarding her position on the topic of Patriarchy. It was interesting how Sue Monk Kidd became empowered thru this journey in her life.
SisterGoddessGeri More than 1 year ago
I was not even aware how diminished I and all women are in our current society and especially in our churches and temples until this book deeply pierced through the conditioning and numbness that had settled over my truth as a Divine Feminine Being.I felt as if all I was meant to be has been released to expand,grow,nurture,teach and recieive. I want women everywhere to read this book and have their own personal experience of the majesty of Goddess/God within them. The world needs Feminine Spirituality more than ever before. There is a universal hunger for the values,traits,qualities and characteristics that women possess. I am so grateful to Sue Monk Kidd for having the courage to share her thoughts and experiences in a way that encourages women to reach for their own path and to know that the world will be a better place because of her courage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this non-fiction memoior even more than her best-selling fictional novel, The Secret Lives of Bees. The author's spiritual journey provided wonderful insight into my own. I appreciate her honesty, thoughtfulness, and courage! Fantastic!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This brilliant, provocative book is revolutionary. In sharing her firestorm about feminine spirituality Sue Monk Kidd gently guides us through our own awakening. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter not only reveals the sacred feminine in the Christian tradition but shows how patriarchal spirituality is ultimately a flight from the earth. Sue Monk Kidd¿s awakening to the knowledge that we are connected with everything lead her to a dawning awareness that the earth is alive and divine. Her question: ¿How big is your `we¿?¿ challenges us to move from the little ¿we¿ of humankind to the larger ¿we¿ of all creation. She rightly points out the future of the planet depends on how we answer that question.
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I found Dance of the Dissident Daughter to be interesting, but better for women and men who have only just begun to consider their spirituality and the place of the Feminine within that spirituality. Kidd has clearly done a lot of research, and has opened herself up to readers in a very personal way.
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ColonialGirl1776 More than 1 year ago
I was looking for something that would help me understand more about the Goddess after years of serving only God in my religion. This book took me through her journey as she did the same thing. I was able to see myself in certain parts of her journey, and know what I had to look forward to still. I'm grateful for the book, I was concerned it would be about how the view of the Goddess interferes with the view of one true God and how the Goddess isn't something to be believed or followed, but I was pleasantly surprised.
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My sister and I love Sue Monk Kidd. I read this book and gave it to my sister as a birthday gift. We both love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be heartfelt and well written. I was deeply moved by the author's experience and courage in relating it. I too have found great strength and comfort in the Goddess archtype. However, it is the height of hubris to suggest that the feminine is better than the masculine and if only the world were run by women it would be, oh, so much better. Worse yet, is to make the suggestion that any woman who doesn't agree with your point of view is still trapped in serving 'the patriarchy' and should be pitied. The author brings a number of valid points regarding Christianity in particular but then employs the very method she criticizes them of using to demonize men and anyone who disagrees. It would seem that in the author's view there are the Spiritual Feminists who 'get it' and then there's the rest of the world. There doesn't seem to be any 'grey area' open to discussion. Tolerance, balance and harmony, can only be achieved in finding Wholeness within oneself. Neither Men nor Women are perfect but together, as part of an equal team -- ah, what a deliciously beautiful dance that is!