I am probably going to burn in Hell for this column…
Religions are some of the most repressive, anti-feminist organizations. It does not take a college graduate to look at Sharia law and Christianity to see that women are generally treated like chattel, bartered goods, and have through the ages been given fewer rights because of religious mandates. Most of the oppression in religion comes from the perspective of religions as patriarchal. As we can see by the rulings of the Hobby Lobby case, the press against maternity leave, the treatment of Planned Parenthood, and the efforts to scale back a woman’s control over her body, we have a long way to go.
According to the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, evil exists in women’s souls. Therefore they are dangerous, and men should control them.
Here are a few verses from the Bible and Koran to paint a picture.
“Men are superior to women, Jesus is superior to men and God is above all. Women should worship all of them.” (Corinthians 14: 34, 35).
“Men have authority over women, for that God has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient … and those you fear may be rebellious, admonish them to their couches, and beat them.” (The Koran, Women, verse 38)
“And call into witness two men; or if two be not men, then one man and two women.” (Koran, The Cow. Verse 282)
“ God charges you concerning your children: to the male the like of the portion of two female.” (Koran, Women, verse 11)
We see in the news what the Taliban or ISIS does to girls in Afghanistan, and other parts of the world, but we turn a blind eye in the west because we are misled by the false notion that America was founded on Christian Ideals.
We weren’t, our founding fathers were Deists who structured our laws around the Anglo-Saxon Laws for Common Man.
In 2014, Dennis Trainor tackled patriarchy and religion and their role in women’s oppression. The following quote sums up a very poignant question:
“How much does religious dogma and/or men in long white dresses with funny hats hold women back from being an equal member of society? If the Church is built inside of a Patriarchy, so to then, is the State. Can we reform this system from within through legislation while maintaining a patriarchal system?”
It’s been over 40 years since Roe V Wade established that women had a constitutional right to abortion. The legal argument was based on the concept that women had a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, and that right extended to their right to abortion.
Perhaps no time in the 40 years since Roe v Wade have female reproductive rights been so under attack. Men, usually white conservative Christian men are working their balls off trying to control women; specifically a woman’s access to birth control and abortion. Politicians so removed from medical understanding that they say things like, women can’t get pregnant when raped because their bodies have a way of shutting that down, make policy decisions about the female reproductive system based upon their religion.
Women seem to be suffering double oppression, from religious misconceptions and male dominance under the guise of religious norms. Men have enjoyed the upper hand with regards to all religious practices. Women are constantly marginalized in decision making in matters pertaining to the family and themselves in relation to religion. Originally and sadly to some degree still today the traditional attitude of Protestant Christianity is that women should not speak in church and must submit to their husbands.
Where’s my ax? Valhalla is calling.
It isn’t even relegated to just the Old Testament in Christianity, either. The New Testament is filled with horrific examples. A man could divorce his wife if she failed to bear children because it was automatically assumed that she was the one with the problem, not the man.
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach, or to have authority over a man, she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve and Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” (1 Timothy 2:11-15)
So, I have to bear children and do all the rest in order to be saved. Could I assume that if I was barren that I cannot be saved?
“As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to enquirer about something, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (Corinthians 14: 33b-35)
I was married at one time, and my ex-husband, bless his pea pickin’ heart, would be the LAST person I would have gone to for translation of religious dogma. He just wasn’t that bright.
I’m divorced, no saving me now!
“…so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worthy in God’s sight…like Sarah who obeyed Abraham and called him her master…as the weaker partner…” (1 Peter 3:1-7)
You know, maybe this verse isn’t such a bad one. We could show it to all the corporations that make a killing by charging women exorbitant amounts of money for makeup, clothing, and hair products because we have to be pretty according to their hyped up standard. But I think they took the weaker partner to heart when they designed pink tools and different pens because we can’t handle a regularly designed product. Time to sharpen the ax some more.
“Wives submit, to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5: 22-24)
Oh here we go, complete and total submission. It is a verse like this that gives rise to the idea that wives cannot be raped by their husbands. That wives should always obey because he has been set as a god of lesser form in this hierarchy and it turns my stomach sour.
However, there seems to be a split developing here in the US. There are those within religion who look at this side of the bible, take it as what worked then, and try to figure out how that relates to now. My religious organizations have embraced larger and larger roles for women within their religious community, including leadership.
But the very conservative, evangelical, so-far-right religious extreme has taken hold on so many levels, and it is working to erode the autonomy that women have over their bodies, their pocket books, and their lives. It’s not just men. Women who believe in these teachings surrender their own power, and attempt to wrest it from other women. I can’t help but to wonder if they are brainwashed.
The idea that women are inferior and submissive to men embolden rape culture and arguments like, “it was her fault, if she had just been a good girl.”
Homeschooling, another issue in of itself, has become the norm of these folks on the far right because they can indoctrinate their children into this way of thinking without perspective from those who think differently. Their authority and their way of teaching won’t be questioned. It is the Quiver-full religious movement that has led to families like the Duggars.
It doesn’t matter what religion you choose to follow; if you choose to follow it blindly, then you are nothing more than a slave. If you cannot think for yourself, you have no chance in aiding or helping people who have been oppressed by these archaic and dangerous ideals. Some people are wounded by these religious groups to the point of needing recovery and therapy afterwards.
While not all religious organizations are anti-feminism, many are, and it is a point of patriarchal power and control. We need to, as women, stop voting along party lines for the sake of party lines. Inside and outside of religions, we need to fight for our own autonomy.