Jenny DeMilo

Whore or symbol of female empowerment?

In the Roman Catholic tradition Mary Magdalene’s feast day is July 22 and she is widely regarded as a saint representing the important principle of penitence. Visual representations typically portray her as the penitent sinner, washing the feet of Jesus

But really what do the Catholics know? Among the escort community there is much upheaval on who was Mary Magdalene. Was she a whore or not? To most of the world she was, is and always will be a whore. It’s only been recently that the idea that she may not be a prostitute has been brought to the forefront of the public thought. Mostly due to Dan Brown’s book of fiction The DaVinci Code and subsequent Hollywood movie (which BTW sucked ass) Among escorts she is often thought of as a headstrong female, who supported herself without a mans help. A symbol of female independence and empowerment. Escorts have made her their personal symbol of whoredom along with Aphrodite who was not only the Greek goddess of love, but also the patron goddess of prostitutes.

For the current attempt to reform the image of Mary Magdalene to succeed, it must first overcome centuries of church and art tradition. The non-biblical image of Mary Magdalene as a repentant prostitute is an image that was officially sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church in the sixth century. It’s that image that has been perpetuated by dozens of Christian paintings, books, other works of art and more currently big budget Hollywood movies.

How did this all begin…
For centuries Mary Magdalene has been regarded as a repentant whore. The inception of this was when Pope Gregory “The Great” declared in 591 A. D. that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. This is based on his own interpretation that Mary Magdalene and two other women: Martha’s sister Mary and an unnamed sinner in Luke’s gospel (7:36-50) were all one and the same person.

There is no evidence or references in the bible that specifically label Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. However any catholic knows it goes from god’s mouth to the Popes ear. To go against the Pope, is to go against God. There are many interpretations of the bible and “Gods word” that boil down to “but the Pope said” from contraception, to stem cell research, to homosexuality. One of the benefits I suppose of being Pope is God tells ya stuff he doesn’t tell anyone else and the catholic masses believe you when you make an interpretation.

Some 1,400 years later, in 1969, the Catholic Church officially corrected Gregory’s label of Mary Magdalene as a penitent whore. Well sort of, almost nobody paid any attention to the correction. The Christian community, by and large, persisted in regarding her as a former prostitute and still does. It’s only been 38 years since the correction. Add in the fact that the correction really was that the three women were not one and they same and the Catholic Church still leaves Mary Magdalene’s occupation open for interpretation.

I for one embrace the image of Mary Magdalene as a whore. I embrace the interpretation that she was NOT a repentant whore but a free thinking, independent women who not only supported herself but supported what was then radical religious beliefs and she did it with thought, mind and deed as she was a major financial contributor to the new “Jesus movement” according to the 8th chapter of Luke. There are those that believe the Catholic Church started this whole “Magdalene as a whore” campaign to smear her good name and to make her contributions less meaningful. I guess that could be true. It wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to discount a woman’s contributions by calling them a whore.

And it sure wont be the last

Jenny

2 thoughts on “Whore or symbol of female empowerment?

  1. job mudflap

    Once again, a thoughtful and intelligent commentary. I had no idea about the Pope Gregory thing.