Gender and Religion

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  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 29-01-15 16:47
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  • Gender and Religion
    • How women and men view God
      • DAVIE (1994) found that - Women see God as loving, comforting and forgiving. Where as men see God as having power and control
    • Gender Inequality in Religion
      • Patriarchal attitudes have prevented women serving as priests until recently (CofE voted for female vicars in 1992)
      • Islamic groups, Orthodox Jews and The Catholic Church continue to exclude women from hierarchy
      • However, women have long been accepted as ministers in many sects and denominations
      • The requirement to love, honour and OBEY is now optional in the Christian marriage ceremony
    • Sexuality and Religion
      • Women's bodies and sexuality are seen as dangerous by many religions
        • Because women menstruate and give birth they are seen to have greater capacity to pollute religious rituals
          • e.g. Hindu women are prohibited from approaching the family shrine when pregnant or menstruating
          • e.g. Muslim women are not allowed to touch the Qur'an, go into a mosque or pray when menstruating
        • There presence may distract the men from their more important roles involving worship
    • FEMINISM and Religion
      • Many feminists claim religion is a patriarchal institution
      • Teachings and practices from a range of religions suggest that they systematically benefit males over females
      • Many Christian feminists argue that there will never be gender equality in the church so long as notions of gender are attached to the understanding of God
      • SIMONE DE BEAUVIOR (1949)
        • Sees religion as oppressive to women
          • Religion is used by men to control women
        • It serves as a way of compensating women for their second class status
        • Religion gives women the false belief that they will be compensated for their sufferings in heaven
        • Women are vital to religion as they do much of the work for religious organisations and introduce children to religious beliefs
        • She concludes; "Religion gives her the guide, father, lover, divine guardian she longs for nostalgically; it feeds her daydreams, it fills her empty hours. But, above all, it confirms the social order, it justifies her resignation by giving hope of a better future in a sexless heaven".
      • NAWAL EL SAADAWI (1980)
        • Muslim feminist
        • Doesn't blame religion itself for its oppression of women, but the patriarchal domination of religion that came with the development of the monotheistic religions (MT)
        • She argues MT religions dew their inspiration from the patriarchal societies that existed at the time
          • Men wrote scriptures, and the interpretation of them was almost exclusively male
        • Men distort religion to serve their own interests
          • Men use religion as an abuse of power
            • e.g. in the 14th century the Catholic Church declared that women that threat illnesses without proper training were witches and could be executed
      • Some feminists include worship and the limitations of women in religion
        • In worship, women tend to be the main attenders but their role is secondary
          • e.g. Orthodox Jewish women cannot read the Torah scroll or participate in symbolic actions at festivals
        • Females are limited in where they can go.
          • e.g. Orthodox Judaism women sit in the balconies or the back above the main space so as not to distract the males
    • CRITICISMS
      • It should not be assumed that all religions are oppressive
        • e.g. In Catholicism becoming a nun can be seen as either oppressive or highly liberating
        • BADAWI (1994) points out that in Islam women keep their family name after marriage
      • WRIGHT (1994) - points out that Reform Judaism has allowed women to become Rabbis since 1972
        • Furthermore Quakerism has never been oppressive to women
      • WATSON (1994) - Argues the veiling of Islamic women can be interpreted as beneficial to them
        • e.g. Nadia a second gen. British-Asian woman started to wear a veil at 16 as she was proud to be a muslim

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