new Sophia drawing “Trapped”

new Sophia drawing “Trapped” May 28, 2011

This one of Sophia, our young woman on her courageous journey towards her independence and wisdom, must have a beginning. This is how I picture her… trapped and surrounded by trappings. I find these pieces so emotional to create because I know she represents my spirit, my inner self, and its journey out of religious slavery towards independence and wisdom.

This one is called “Trapped”. Sophia is chained to a stone cellar wall. She is surrounded by words of submission. Even though we might agree with the idea of a mutual submission, these selected words have been turned into words of servitude and slavery. They are being used to confine her, control her and keep her. Even the cross, which might be used as a metaphor of volitional suffering, has been turned into a tool requiring it. The bible laid before her which contains powerful words of liberation has become a text of bondage. There is food and drink as promised, but they are obviously kept beyond her reach. The only way she can enjoy them is if they are fed to her. Even her nakedness, her vulnerability, which should be beautiful and cherished, is used as a weapon against her. She must keep silence and not question her captors because it always results in chastisement.

Sure, the words are biblical and some of the promises are there… food and drink and light and shelter and the word of the Lord… but together they combine to create an entire environment of imposing domination and death.

But she is not hopeless. Her honesty about her brutal captivity has stoked a fire of fearlessness.

She is planning her escape.

You can buy the original or a fine art print of this image here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I guess it just goes to show that, even Scripture if used contrary to the way God intended, can actually be “antichrist.”

  • “Clad in the shape of a deer she is worn away with death’s slavery, Now she has mastery and glimpses light: now she is plunged in misery and weeps. Now she is mourned, and her self rejoices. Now she weeps and is finally condemned. Now she is condemned and finally dies. And now she reaches the point where hemmed in by evil, she knows no way out. Misled, she has entered a labyrinth.” – The Naassene Psalm

  • perfect Jordan! just perfect.

  • Jane

    How true this is David. Even if as a Christian woman you are not ‘oppressed’ by a man with these ideas, the church still perpetuates them. As woman you subconsiously feel guilty for not fitting that role and it can really wear a soul down. I have never fit the role. I am a woman with a very powerful personality and convictions. A personality that is ‘typical’ of men. For years I tried to squelch my fire but it didn’t work. I am not a good Christian house wife lol. I am a nurturing person but it equals my strength of personality. I used to be a very domineering person before I became a Christian and when I became one I actually had men tell me I needed to learn to submit. I could never find Christian men to date because they were all terrified if me. Years later in my now 30’s my life has completely changed. I am still a Christian but my partner is not. It is a relief to be honest because he values strong women and is not daunted by my character. Christian men need to get with the program and realize that it is not the dark ages and the church needs to stop perpetuating antiquated thinking that oppresses people. Jesus did not make me who I am so I could hide it and be ashamed of my strength. I am not a feminist, I am a social equalitarian. Which to me the church has no concept of. Way to lay it down David once again!

  • thanks Jane. you have a way of saying!!

  • Ann

    I really love this one David. These beliefs are deeply rooted inside the culture where I live. The predominate religion here takes it even further. They teach and believe that a woman cannot ascend to the highest kingdom and meet God unless she is married to a man and that man, endowed with a “priesthood” calling is her only way to God. The man is seen as literally pulling her through the veil. Without him, she cannot ascend, she cannot of her own free will and power meet God. This type of theme is repeated throughout history, and yes, it is about much more than gender inequality. There is a belief in soul inequality.

  • This cartoon is sad, but true.
    But I love the hope in the last line … “She is planning her escape.” Yay Sophia!! (and all of us)

    In certain environments I feel like Sophia … but I’m finding new environments and I’m amazed at the love I see/feel/sense/here/find there.

  • Sadly, I often feel this from Christian women. Are their subtle messages a means of justifying their lives? Men from the church use charm which I find dishonest and condescending.

    I identify with Jane – big time.

  • yes ann, i’ve heard of that.
    there is hope janet.
    thanks amy… jane did say it well.

  • Jan

    Wow. This one takes my breath away – literally. I have more to say about this, I’m sure, but first my soul has to digest the image and the emotions it stirs up. Thank you.

  • thanks jan.

  • Mary

    What this woman does not know, as she plots her escape, is that in American culture, the chains of submission are of her own making. In our culture, she may stand and rip the confining pin from the wall. Submission in this respect is a choice. Physical bondage is a different matter, of course. There are women who are physically bound to The Male, but ideologically, any woman with the strength to stand on her own, make her own living, face the adversity of life alone–any woman can shake off the chains of submission. Men don’t like it? Well, there are some men out there who make good companions for a strong woman. But a strong woman must always be ready to live alone, comfortable with herself, and totally unwilling to bow the neck to any collar. “Sophia” is wisdom. Self-enslavement is not wisdom.

  • i agree Mary. you can see more of her journey here:

  • shelly

    I am not a feminist, I am a social equalitarian. (Jane)

    Actually, a socially egalitarian society is what most feminists want.

    IMO, if you believe in/support equality of the sexes, you are a feminist. What you are not is society’s stereotype of what a feminist is (usually a butch lesbian who is angry at/hates men).

  • I saw this when you first put it up…I still cannot articulate what it stirs up. This is soul shattering and strikes a chord deep down inside. This applies not only to women but to men who have suppressed the Divine Feminine within them. You are going to start your Sophia book with this, I hope?

  • John

    Very very few pieces of visual art cause a deep emotional response in me. Among the few are the Iwo Jima memorial, the Pieta by Michaelangelo….and seriously, from an emotional/spiritual standpoint this drawing you have shared. My heart was pounding and I got goosebumps as the sorrow of the harsh reality your drawing depicts overcame me.

    Very powerful, thanks for sharing!

  • Lynn

    Love the last line!

  • wow thanks john. that’s quite a compliment.

  • Johnfom

    I have to, with genuine respect, disagree with Shelly here and state that I am an egalitarian, not a feminist. If anything, I am an egalitarian masculinist, which I believe is a natural, and complimentary, ally of the egalitarian feminist, but not exactly the same thing

    Oppression is also dehumanizing for the oppressor. My immediate thought is for the liberation of males from the dehumanization which oppresses them. In many cases it is the flip side of the oppression feminists fight against. Many of us males also fight against it, but from a, perhaps, masculinist perspective rather than a feminist one.

    To use the cartoon (which breaks my heart) as a case study: The 1 Timothy 2 verses, used in this way against Sophia, forces particular modes of behaviour from the male who presents them. What if the woman he loves is an intelligent, beautiful teacher? He can’t bee seen to approve of that teaching. HE ‘must keep silence and not question’… ‘because it always results in chastisement’. Questions about his masculinity will be asked. What kind of man ‘allows’ his wife/partner to be so brazen? ‘Even though we might agree with the idea of a mutual submission, these selected words have been turned into words…’ of dominion and lordship.

  • Johnfom

    Interesting post on the CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) website pertinent to what I was trying to say earlier.

    *David, if you are concerned about me posting a link here, please moderate it. No offense will be taken.

  • hi preacherlady: yes, i plan on this being the first one of the book. thanks so much.

  • Mary Ellen Mayo

    Powerful…note that none of the bible verses are spoken by Jesus himself, but are written by Paul. Jesus didn’t treat women that way, and his mother wasn’t at all afraid to prod him into performing his first miracle at the wedding in Cana….

  • james

    I agree with preacher lady on how men are trapped. When I first saw the sophie drawing – yes I see how religion enslaves women, but as a man I have realsied how it has enslaved me.

    male centred theology has missed the divine feminine, it has enslaved sensuality, feelings, body, trustfulness, creativity, eros and playfulness – and condemned this aspect of self as sin. Until this theology evolves,or gets in touch with it’s shadow, male centred religion will never evolve.

    That is why I had to leave the church – I had to learn to dance, feel, love, and get in touch with my bodily wisdom.

  • The enslavement of men is that they must be macho. Think and not feel…and if they are in the church they are taught to relegate women to a secondary position. In doing so, they are denying themselves and creating archetypes that are unhealthy and the condition propagates itself. If men will free their wives and daughters to reach their spiritual potential, they will be freeing themselves as well. The women in their hearts will no longer be suppressed and oppressed beings and the feminine within the men will flourish.

  • james

    Why do men want to control and dominate women?
    Because they fear them and deep down feel that they are more powerful. Men are afraid of feelings because they think expressing them will make them more feminine (like a women) and therefore weaker and beneath them.

    I believe that men will only evolve and grow up once they embrace their authentic feelings. Institional relgion will always prevent this – jesus promotes it.

  • Long my imprisoned spirit lay
    Held past by sin and nature’s night.
    Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
    I woke, the dungeon flamed with light.
    My chains fell off, my heart was free.
    I rose, went forth and followed thee!

    Charles Wesley had something else in mind when he wrote those words, but I couldn’t help thinking them when I saw this picture. I think they’re still relevant.

  • Brilliant David.

  • Martha

    So… it’s sounding like no one is really free until everyone is free…

  • in a sense Martha you’re right.

  • Jeannie

    I am speechless – literally.

    I have never had a drawing resonate so deeply in me.

  • thanks Jeannie. it is powerful. difficult for me to draw.

  • you know, you’re amazing and inspired, david.

    i’m always touched by your art and self-expression.

    and sometimes, it’s so revealing of my soul that I have a hard time looking at it too long.

    that’s a really good thing.

    thank you for those uncomfortable and inspired moments.

  • wow stace. thanks so much. i’ll treasure these words.

  • bkw

    I agree with the others. This is so powerful – the most powerful of your cartoons for me. I too have to take a while to digest all that it offers.

  • I’m thinking OUCH. Yup. I agree with so much David- i guess what i’ve struggled with was bucking some of those trappings, just to have someone, mostly well meaning, try to convince me of the “redeeming qualities” of that mindset.- then having to nod nicely, while inside yelling WTF???
    Thanks for keeping it raw enough to feel deeply.

  • Crystal

    I am also a woman with a powerful personality and convictions, and have found much frustration in churches that hold to the image of woman as having to be subservient to the man in all things. I have fought those beliefs, and in my last church, got nowhere. Even though I’m not there anymore, they are still saying that women cannot become elders. Why don’t the women in that church object and rise up against such outmoded beliefs? I have no idea.

    Until women are strong enough to live alone, they will continue to be dominated and controlled by weak men, for men who treat women with contempt and “use” them for their pleasure alone, are weak, even though they see themselves as strong.

    I applaud you for your commments. In my view, you are a strong man,in the way that women deserve and are usually attracted to. You appear to be secure in your masculinity. Only insecure men are threatened by women who are strong. But they don’t get that. Why is it taking the world so long to stop seeing women as the inferior gender?

  • Crystal

    Obviously, by choosing a woman to represent your spirit and inner self, you are also a strong man. Your wife must love you a lot for that.

  • thanks cathryn.

  • thanks so much bkw. glad it touched you.

  • crystal… i have my moments 😉

  • Crystal


    That’s so cute. I bet you do.

  • Sue Trigger

    What a beautiful depiction of the cycle of oppression that indeed traps many women and, as noted, men. Today I am an ordained minister who is blessed to pastor with my husband who is also well connected to his inner Sophia. However my journey has been one that began in a home where I was abused by my father who preached “the gospel” and served as a Deacon in the church. Behind closed doors he molested me and used Scriptures like these to keep me in line. I grew up to be a strong woman, a survivor not a victim, and I have stood up against the oppression of women by the church. It is not easy for women to walk away from this kind of bondage. The scars cut deep and take great fortitude to overcome, especially when many Christian communities choose to condone the abuse by calling it “biblical”. Through role modeling and speaking out, I hope to create a community where everyone can find faith in God, who is also held in bondage by those who misuse Scripture to oppress. But there is no doubt that the Christian machine is a formidable force that seduces too many souls into sinful behavior rather than toward liberation. Sexism, racism, and all other kinds of “isms” have a strangle hold within the church and on many souls. Thank you for naming it! Powerful art!

  • james

    Thank you for your kind comments Crystal. Still exploring, failing and hopefully growing!

  • Tommy Donahue

    Why are you selling these? If it’s a free revelation, and you want to freely share, why charge money? I don’t mean any harm, I just dnt knowhow such freedom, finds a price?

  • Tommy: yes I am selling them.

  • Tommy Donahue

    ok, cool, thnks for responding, have a great day!