Alison Joseph deposited ‘Is Dinah Raped?’ Isn’t the Right Question: Genesis 34 and Feminist Historiography in the group Bible and the History of Biblical Interpretation on AJS Commons 3 years ago
Many of the feminist readings of the Dinah story in Genesis 34 in recent years have focused on the question of whether Dinah is raped. The interpretations that perhaps Dinah was not “raped” span the spectrum from a teenage love affair between Dinah and Shechem, to a case of statutory rape, to a marriage by abduction. Guilty of exploring this question myself, this paper will address what’s at stake in determining whether Dinah were raped. It does not make the conclusion of the story (the brutal slaying of the people of Shechem at their weakest moment, while using the sign of the covenant as a weapon) any more palatable. Instead, we should ask why this chapter is included in the larger Jacob narrative. Dinah arrives just in time to walk out among the women of the land and disappears again as soon as the brothers bring her home. She isn’t even the star of her “own” story. The narrative could certainly progress without the chapter. Should Genesis 34 be interesting to gender critics? Does decrying the story as “not rape” further objectify Dinah? Does a gendered reading help us to understand this story better?