Women and Religion

Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Thoughts | 6 comments

It strikes me as odd that of all the people in the world who are religious, as in following the word of this or that holy book, that women would want to have anything to do with it. I mean, what is it about religion that draws women to it in the first place?

I’m well aware that most people who are religious were born into that religion, and from all accounts it can be a very difficult mold to break free from, but I still wonder, how is it possible to be so blinded by a belief system or a book to see yourself as not only inferior to your God, but inferior to men also. I have never been religious. I was fortunate enough to be born into a family which treasured my ability to make my own decisions based on what I learnt and what I could work out, so the idea of being a believer is quite odd to me. But to be a believer of a system of misogyny when you are the one who it is biased against just seems ludicrous.

One doesn’t have to search too far to find the parts of either of the two major holy books to find the parts that basically tell women that they are inferior. The Bible does it in the first chapter, telling women they were created from man only as a companion for him. It then goes on to explain how a woman was responsible for EVERYTHING that has gone wrong in the world since then. From Genesis 3:

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
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For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
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And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Women are also seen as inferior in The Koran, and this is just one example of this:

2:228 Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart, three (monthly) courses. And it is not lawful for them that they should conceal that which Allah hath created in their wombs if they are believers in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands would do better to take them back in that case if they desire a reconciliation. And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.

Remember however that the Koran was written by a man who had a penchant for pedophilia, marrying Aisha at six and consummating the marriage when she was only nine. There are obvious other examples of this misogyny in Islamic culture that may or may not be religious or cultural, but they stem from the same place; a man’s interpretation of the holy book he worships.

Is it any wonder, when looking at these books, that women are seen as second class citizens in the eyes of these religions? Think about the tendency of religion to work its way into culture and politics, the way that people cite God or Allah as their guide when making decisions of national importance, then think of the words that their god supposedly tells them. It is no wonder that we have ended up where we are.

Admittedly, in most western cultures which have developed under Christianity, things have moved forward, but underlying this is an inequity which stems from the words of these holy books. Call it a hangover from religion, but it still exists. From pay inequality, to the judgement of a woman as “loose” or “easy” by the clothes she wears, these judgments are deeply ingrained in our cultures.

If it’s the case that these rules of religious texts arose because men couldn’t control their sexual urges, then it’s time the men took a long hard look at themselves. If it’s the case that these rules came about because certain men wanted control over their women, then men need to look at our current world and change their attitudes to be not only more tolerant, but more humble as human beings.

The fact that women are faithful and believing in the two major organized religions astounds me. I know, especially in the third world that it is nigh on impossible to break out of, but in the western world? That strikes me as scary. It really is time we moved forward with our attitudes towards women, and not to pander to the wants of the patriarchal theocrats.

This blog has been crossposted at www.monicks.net.

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6 Comments

  1. HI there,
    Thankyou for this post, you’ve obviously put alot of thought into this! I had a debate today regarding wearing the burka. I was told of a woman on ABC recently who married a mulsim man and thus commenced wearing one. I was told that she didnt feel oppressed, was an educated woman that chose this garment as she agreed that her husband should be the only person to see her face. Here in Australia, we have so much more to contend with besides christianity. I disagreed. My point was that wearing the garment was a tradition of the religion, a suppression of women. She is deluded if she thinks mulsim women around the worl choose to wear it and needs to look at the women in the middle east who are killed, stoned and raped. I totally agree with you regarding the stigmatisation of women. In particular regqarding victims of sexual assaults. If you have evber had the displeasure of witnessing a matter before the court (I am a Police Officer) they are absolutely raked over the coals regarding their sexual past, their current behaviours, whether they were drunk, what they were wearing, it is enough to make you cry. You would no doubt be aware of the extremely low rate of convixtions for sexual assault. Any defence solicitor makes wonderful inroad in creating reasonable doubt by painting the victim as a ‘whore’ who deserved it. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about this.

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  2. Hi Martin,
    as male person i must admit right from the start that female psychology is not really anything that I can say much about ;-) At least so says my wife.

    Anyway i wanted to remark that i do not think there is a rational reason for this but a psychological and sociological one.

    For example: If you look at female genital mutilation the striking thing is that it is mostly not males that commit that crime but women. Actually those women, who would know best how bad it is. Yet THEY do it and do not revolt.
    If you look at people that think spanking their kids is a good thing you will find that it is (who is surprised) those that got spanked themselves.
    So for whatever strange reason it seems to be the case that we justify bad things by thinking to ourselves that we ourselves have survived it as well.

    When it comes to the role of women in patriarchal societies i sometimes think it’s a mixture of blind love and an evaluation bias.
    Covering up with a veil is only bad if you are a slave. But if you do it for your lover who smiles at you and if that makes you better than the other “whore” that doesn’t do it … then it is an expression of your honor……

    So the question would be … how do these women evaluate the situation?

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  3. -” what is it about religion that draws women to it in the first place?”

    I do not know either, and what is worse… What is it about Lesbians, that also lead them to religion?

    I just think they take it as social gathering while ignoring most of their silly doctrines…

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  4. … From pay inequality …

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_disparity#Gender.2C_race.2C_and_culture

    In the United States, among women and men who never marry or have children, women make more than men.[19] Additionally, women who work part-time make more on average than men who work part-time.

    You mentioned in your previous article to be careful how we bring our points accross. And repeating something over and over (like the pay inequality thing) doesnt make it true.

    (Or how about man getting punishied harder than woman for the same crimes excluding religious crimes)

    I agree with your overall point tho.

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    • The same article says that in the USA the median wage for women is 77% that of men.

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  5. I never understood the ‘social gathering’ argument.
    I thought about my past and present socializing from past catlick to present atheist and nothing has really changed. All my socializing was with extended family, scouts, square dance, SCA, clubs, etc. The church was at best a very minor part. All the socializing I did as religious are the same now but even more.

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