Erotic desire as a woman’s way of knowing the divine

reading Arishima Taeko, A Certain Woman


  • Haruka Umetsu Cho Santa Clara University, California



Arishima Takeo, Gender and Sexuality, Feminist theology


This article examines a Japanese novel written by Arishima Takeo, A Certain Woman (first published in Japanese in 1919), in order to explore women’s ways of knowing, focusing on the body and erotic desire as a locus where the human–God relationship is embodied. This novel shows a way of knowing the Divine beyond language and the sanitized notion of love, describing the life of a modern Japanese Christian woman who refuses both Japanese colonial woman-hood and Christian (Victorian) sexual ethics. Depicting the divine presence in the protagonist’s promiscuous and stigmatized body, Arishima asks theological questions about the role of eros and violence in the pursuit of God, and seeks radically free God and humans who may go beyond any existing boundaries.

Author Biography

Haruka Umetsu Cho, Santa Clara University, California

Haruka Umetsu Cho is an assistant professor of systematic theology at Santa Clara University. Her research interests are feminist/queer theology, East Asian literature, and postcolonial theories. Currently, Umetsu Cho is working on her first book on modern Japanese literature written between 1880s and 1945 and Christian images and language in it.


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How to Cite

Umetsu Cho, H. . (2021). Erotic desire as a woman’s way of knowing the divine: reading Arishima Taeko, A Certain Woman. Body and Religion, 4(1), 82–104.