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Evidence of Patriarchy:

vReligious organisations are mainly male-dominated despite the fact that women often participate more than men in these organisations. Orthodox Judaism and Catholicism forbid women to become priests. Armstrong (1993) sees women’s exclusion from the priesthood of most religions as evidence of their marginalisation.

vPlaces of worship often segregate the sexes and marginalise women. For example, the more central and religious seats are taken by men. Women’s participation can also be restricted, for example, not being allowed to preach or read from sacred texts. Taboos that regard menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth as polluting may also prevent participation. In Islam, menstruating women are not allowed to touch the Qur’an. Holm (1994) describes this as the devaluation of women in contemporary religion.

vSacred texts largely feature the doings of male Gods, Prophets, etc., and are usually written and interpreted by men. Stories often reflect anti-female stereotypes, such as the story of Eve in the Judeo-Christian story of Genesis, where humanity’s fall from grace and expulsion from the Garden of Eden is caused by Eve.

vReligious laws and customs may give women fewer rights than men, for example, in access to divorce, how many spouses they may have, decision making and dress codes, etc. Religious influences on cultural norms may also lead to unequal treatment, such as genital mutilation or punishments for sexual transgressions. Many religions legitimate and regulate women’s domestic and reproductive role. For example, the Catholic Church bans abortion and artificial contraception. Woodhead (2002) argues


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