Feminist Theories of Feminism

Feminism Theories of religion

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  • Created on: 24-05-11 19:34

Evidence of Patriarchy in Religion

Religious Organisations: Mainly male dominated despite women usually participate more. For example Catholicism forbid women to become priests. Armstrong sees women's exclusion from the priesthood of most religions as evidence of marginalisation.

Places of Worship: Often segregate the sexes and marginalise women. Women's participation may be restricted; for eample not being allowed to preach or read from sacred texts. In Islam, menstruating women are not allowed to touch the Qur'an. Jean Holm describes this as the devaluation of women in contemporary religion.

Sacred Texts: Largely feature the doings of male gods, disciples and prophets. Stories often reflect anti-female stereotypes such as that of Eve who caused humanity's fall from grace and expulsion from the Garden of Eden

Religious Laws and Customs: May give women fewer rights than men for example dress codes. The catholic bans abortion.

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Woodhead: Religious Feminism

Woodhead criticises feminist explanations that simply equate religion with patriarchy and the oppression of women. While accepting that much traditional religion is patriarchal, she emphasises that this is not true of all religion.

She argues that there are 'religious forms of feminism' - ways in which women use religion to gain freedom and respect.

Woodhead uses example of the veil in Islam. Western feminists see it as a symbol of oppression. Woodhead argues that some muslim women choose to wear the viel to escape the confines of the home and enter education and employment.

They see is as a symbol of liberation that enables them to enter the public sphere without losing their culture and history. Women also use religion to gain status and respect.

The position of women within some religions is changing. For example, the Church of England has permitted women's ordination into the priesthood since 1992 and lots more priests are female.

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