Home Institution

American University

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender


My research examines the personal narratives of five (5) women living in Northern Netherlands, in and around Amsterdam. The focus of these narratives is on the diversity of national and religious backgrounds as these bear on body-image in Dutch culture. My purpose is to bridge the gap of knowledge between modern female body image, religiosity, and the conflicting messages of modernity and traditionalism. These five personal narratives begin to unpack my informants‟ “Dutch” identity, their social and personal views concerning the female body, and how religion conflicts, combines and in some cases complements the modern, secular female body message communicated through media and other social influences. Only in political Islamic discourse has sexuality, female embodiment, and modern lifestyles with religion and religious women been linked thus far. Most contemporary literature ignores the voices of religious women entirely. The present narratives suggest that women from different religious backgrounds can combine the false binary in Dutch society of modernity versus religiosity, albeit enduring a variety of hardships. I combine academic and first-hand sources to address the important question of how religion and modern culture conflict and combine in public and private spheres of women in the Northern Netherlands. Future research on these matters should include interviews with women not only in the northern province of the Netherlands, but should include women in the Dutch “Bible Belt” and other areas where religion is common yet voiceless as part of the Dutch national ideology, (Haandrikman, & Sobotka, 2002).


Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Women's Studies