Feminist Theories of Religion

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  • Feminist Theories
    • Evidence of Patriarchy
      • Religious texts largely feature the doings of male Gods and prophets and are usually interpreted by men and so reflect anti-female stereotypes.
      • Places of worship often segregate the sexes and marginalise women, by seating them behind men for example.
      • Religious laws and customs may give women fewer rights than men. Many religions legitimate and regulate women's traditional and reproductive role.
      • religious organisations are mainly male-dominated despite the fact woman often participate more than men.
    • Armstrong (1993)
      • Early religions often placed women at the centre of religion.Earth mother goddesses, fertility cults and female priesthoods were found throughout the Middle East until about 6000 years ago, and about 4000 years ago saw the rise of monotheistic patriarchal religions.
    • El Saadawi
      • Religion is not the direct cause of women's subordination. Rather, this is the result of patriarchal forms of society coming into existence. Once patriarchy was in existence, it began to re-shape and influence religion in ways that favoured men.
    • Evaluation
      • Woodhead
        • Woodhead criticises feminist explanations that simply equate patriarchy with oppression of women.  Woodhead uses the example of the hijab some Muslim women choose to wear the hijab as it allows them to escape the confines of the home and enter the world of education and employment
      • Women can use religion to gsin greater repsect from men by insisting they practice what they preach and refrain from macho behaviour
      • Fails to consider causes of oppression that is not based around patriarchy
      • The Church of England has allowed female priesthoods since 1992.


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