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Pentecostalism and Egalitarianism in Melanesia: A Reconsideration of the Pentecostal Gender Paradox

Annelin Eriksen

Keywords: change; equality; gender; gender paradox; individualism; Melanesia; Pentecostalism; power


In this article I discuss ‘the Pentecostal gender paradox’, famously coined by Bernice Martin. I do so by comparing Melanesian and Pentecostal forms of egalitarianism. My argument centers on the contention that in order for this paradox to emerge, specific concepts of equality and gender have to be kept fixed across contexts where they may not necessarily be stable. Pentecostalism has a specific effect on the role of women in the church, such as giving them access to the spirit, while also impacting on the notion of equality and ideas about the nature of gender. I conclude that in Pentecostalism gender is seen as an individual quality and that gender relations are viewed as power relations.

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