Female Christian Responses to Contexts of Imposed Impostorism





Impostor Phenomenon, Humility, Teresa de Avila, Gender Stereotype, Stereotype Management


Many individuals have periodic doubts about whether they belong in the position they occupy. Some find a way to ignore or otherwise move beyond those doubts, especially if they have outward evidence that they do belong, that they are not a fraud, not an impostor. This outward evidence is usually skill and experience. It seems more challenging to move beyond the doubts when the sources of these doubts are not only internal to the person but also external or structural. Systems and structures exist that seem to say to some, “you belong,” and to others, “you do not belong.” For centuries, women have been told by Christian hierarchical structures that they do not belong in church leadership in spite of evidenced skill. Their female bodies are marginalized in church and society. For our purposes, contexts that tell women they do not belong and are impostors will be named contexts of Imposed Impostorism (II). How do women respond to these contexts? Three choices seem to exist. First, agree and shrink back. Second, overcome Impostor Phenomenon (IP), the internalization that you do not, in fact, belong, and “walk on,” doing the work. And third, agree humbly that you do not belong in order to disarm the audience and walk on. The first response seems to have always existed, the second is current since studies of IP are relatively recent, and the third is historical; we are particularly interested in how Teresa of Avila and Katharina Zell enact it. The responses interact with the virtue of humility and gendered stereotypes, and have different measures of power.




How to Cite

Davis Abdallah, A. F. . (2022). Female Christian Responses to Contexts of Imposed Impostorism. TheoLogica: An International Journal for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology, 6(1), 127–149. https://doi.org/10.14428/thl.v6i1.61213