Vox Populi 7 – Religion and Women

Posted by on February 19, 2011 in Thoughts | 10 comments

I saw this tweet from Taslima Nasreen yesterday, which was almost a complete summation of what she said last year at the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne:

“Proud to be an atheist. Women should get rid of religion because all religions are anti-women. http://tinyurl.com/ykgvlu3 #Atheism”

It links out to an article by the always awesome BlagHag (or @jennifurret on Twitter) entitled “A large list of awesome female atheists”. Taslima, in her talk about her problems with Islam in her home country of Bangladesh, illustrated with many point that all religions act as systems by which the patriarchal theocracies can control women. Whether that was their intention at their inception or not, I cannot say, but the words of religious texts, their meanings and intentions are clear. Women are second class citizens, they are dangerous to men, they cannot be trusted, and should therefore be controlled. And women are scary, because they control the power of life which men do not have.

My favourite bible passage about women is 1 Timothy 2:9-15 which reads:

9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

This is just my take on religion and women, what do you think? Can anyone shed any light on Islamic instructions toward women?

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10 Comments

  1. I’ve come to the conclusion that all relgions I know of were sexist. For example, Buddhism:

    In Buddhist Channel http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=8,2666,0,0,1,0 Buddhist monk Dr Mettanando Bhikkhu lists some of the restrictive views on women: “Buddhists who are traditionally trained take for granted that [a quotation from the Buddha means] that women are inferior to men”. Some scholars take a nuanced view of sexist attitudes towards women in Buddhism. While acknowledging modern re-interpretations of some texts, Bhikkhu concludes that a traditional reading of Buddha would conclude he was sexist, and that “In Theravada countries, the Buddhist religion has never been in support of human rights and social justice. As long as there is no reformation of the religious education system in Buddhism and the Tripitaka, the religion will remain the biggest obstacle for the development of democracy and social justice in these countries.”

    Taken from my “The Dark Side of the Buddha” https://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/the-dark-side-of-the-buddha/

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  2. Didn’t Mohammed have a 9 year old wife? That says something about the Islamic tradition concerning women.

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  3. Agree. My experience is of the catholic religion, but all women are either saints (Mary, Elizabeth) or whores (Magdelene, Eve) in their eyes. They also don’t believe that women should be able to hold any significant role in the church. Women are viewed as the downfall of men and cannot be moral unless they are virgins. Nuns have to cover their whole body and hair the same as Islamic women but people view this as normal. It’s the same type of enslavement of the women’s sexuality. I mean dreaming up a virginal birth – come on, even with a rudimentary knowledge of biology they knew in those days it wasn’t true, but they couldn’t work out how to make Jesus the son of god and born of woman. Women’s cycles and childbirth were viewed as profane.
    Everything to them is either sacred or taboo, and women with their mysterious habits were not to be trusted. It has a lot to do with the sexual power women hold over men, and the fact that powerful men don’t want to admit they were once reliant upon a woman for their very survival.
    Okay, I’ll stop now – but you asked. Lol
    I’ll probably get slammed for this – but hey.

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  4. To me they’re all one and the same towards women. Ironically, Islam was one of the most liberal but fell back. The stories of 1001 Arabian Nights clearly depict orgies and sexual acts between females and males and even bestiality. They exalted the beauty of the female body… what happened? IMO, male insecurity and conservatism happened. And religions in the US lead the same way.

    All religions are extremely sexist. Beats me why they still attend. Same thing applies to homosexuals attending services that clearly do not want them.

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    • Quote: “male insecurity and conservatism happened”
      I agree with that. If we look back in time we’ll see that many religions, in the ‘old times’, were not always sexist. But then, somewhere in history, conservatism “happened”, spreading over the world and being incorporated by societies into their religions. What I always wonder is where’s the birth of sexism, as we have today, in religion? When? Looking back I can only think of the catholic church and the middle age. But perhaps there is something else i’m missing.

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  5. I think religion reinforcing sexism is more of a side-effect than a primary effect of religion. As I see it, organized religions perpetuate and give legitimacy to the established order (ie, divine right of kings), including the biases and attitudes that support the established order. If a society is already sexist, then it will generate sexist religions.

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  6. Hi Marty!
    I might be wrong but I guess there are many communities worldwide that are matriarchal/matrilineal, specially in Asia, and also in some North American indigenous tribes. I guess in general the monotheistic religions are very sexist and tend to treat woman like they were inferior to men. Polytheistic religions are very democratic, they have male and female deities, and their deities many times present the same character flaws that humans do. Egyptians, greek, asian, indigenous religions are like that. I think the more western and monotheistic, the most sexist religions are.

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  7. All religions? Really? If one honestly believe that then such a person is just as myopic as someone who thinks their religion is the One True Religion. And making statements like simply exposes that myopia and will turn off any honest critical thinkers.

    Just as it’s demonstrably true that most religions have misogynistic aspects, it’s equally true that there are those that do not. The obvious examples of many New Age, Wiccan, or pagan religions aside, even some Christian sects (e.g. Unitarian Universalism) have done away with its misogynistic roots.

    Now, what is truly deplorable about all this is that so many people – of both genders – flock to the misogynistic religions for their spiritual needs. This seems to largely be a consequence of hereditary religion and not any actual choice, which I think should give us some hope. I don’t know the full statistics, but in the US at least, Christianity as a whole is losing followers and the churches are worried about it. It also seems that rather than taking up some other religion they are simple setting religion (at least organized ones, most seem to maintain a belief in some sort of higher power) aside. So it can be argued that when people are making a choice, they are choosing to leave what it generally a fairly misogynistic collection of religions.

    What’s not arguable is that all religions hate women, that’s demonstrably false and holding to such an unfounded belief is, well, quite an act of blind faith, no?

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  8. Women, in most religions, are the bottom-of-the-barrel type of people. Those are the teachings of the holy books they consider the ultimate source of morality:

    The New Testament quotes St. Paul (I Timothy 2) as saying that women “must be silent.” 
    Deuteronomy declares that if a woman does not bleed on her wedding night, “the men of her town shall stone her to death.” 
    An Orthodox Jewish prayer thanks God, “who hast not made me a woman.” 
    The Qur’an stipulates that a woman shall inherit less than a man, and that a woman’s testimony counts for half a man’s. 
    Jainism also prevents the rise of women through the religious hierarchy.

    From blaming women for the “original sin”, organized religion has found myriad ways to subjugate and control women in the name of god. 
    A little more matriarchy is what the world needs.

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    • I agree with Monicks comment, and many other the others on this site, i am an atheist i do not subscibe to organized religion most religions are sexist especially towards women. Religion is man-made to keep people in their place and i don’t really think it has any room for free-thinkers like myself. I am a member of the British Humanist association which most members are either atheists or agnoistics, the bible and the Adam and Eve story for one smacks of sexisism why was it the woman who did the deed with the apple etc and not the other way round. I think regarding the ascent of humans and other life forms on this planet evolution is the right answer of course science hasn’t all the answers perhaps it never will but more and more evidence is being found all the time fossils etc. Of course religion is a personal choice i have no argument with that if people get solace from it but it is not for me i like to question things to much.

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