Assess the view that the role of religion is to promote patriarchal ideology and maintain the oppression of women (18 marks)-
To critically analyse whether or not the role of religion is to promote patriarchal ideology and maintain the oppression of women it is first important to look at the different areas of religion that could lead to this statement being true. Patriarchy is when society is controlled by a male perspective that ignores the importance of females and oppression means that someone is being controlled and forced to stay in their role/place in this case women. There are 5 different sections; rituals, religious participation, wider society, history and sacred texts each of which have their own interpretations and arguments for and against the statement. During this essay I will explore the different areas and come to a conclusion in relation to the statement.
One way that religion can be used to promote patriarchal ideology and maintain the oppression of women is through rituals. A ritual is a detailed method of procedure faithfully or regularly followed. Rituals can be performed in cases where the person wants to seek some kind of spiritual guidance or just because it is part of their religion. There are many ways that rituals are used to undermine women and to keep patriarchy within religion. In some religions female genital mutilation is carried out to keep the women from experiencing pleasure during sex so that they would only do it to reproduce. Any female that was not circumcised was seen as highly sexual. However this is less likely to happen anymore as women and men have become more equal in society and it is more likely in fact that the man would be circumcised rather than the woman e.g. in Judaism, which shows religion to be less patriarchal. Another ritual that maintains the oppression of women is marriage. In the vows of marriage there is evidence to support a patriarchal theme as it states that the women have to promise to obey the man. You could argue that it is not the rituals that are in themselves patriarchal but it’s the way that the ritual is used by men- so it could be said that the religious ritual is inadvertently patriarchal.
A second way that religion can be used to promote patriarchal ideology and maintain the oppression of women is through religious participation. Religious participation means people’s involvement in religion. There are many ways through this that segregates men and women maintaining the oppression of women. In many religions women are prevented from fully participating in religion. Jean Holm supported this idea by giving the example of Japanese folk religions where women are responsible for organising public rituals but only men can take part in the public performances. Also in Orthodox Judaism men and women sit apart which re-enforces the patriarchal stand of religion. However there is evidence through statistics that shows that women in fact account for 65% of the people participating in religion. Furthermore…