Religion & Women- A Brief Look

Now a days we hear a lot the phrase ‘war on women’.  It has become such a common phrase to hear, that one can’t help but worry.  I understand that times have changed and that news is delivered seconds after it happens, that social media has made sharing information so much more accessible, and that we absorb the good and the bad that much more easily as well.

I can’t help but wonder what the root of this epidemic, this misogyny that seems to spread like lit matches causing massive fires since we are not going to the root of the problem.  I don’t claim to be an expert but an observer.  Like all humans I have the capability to see a problem and render a solution. Whether this solution is a feasible one up to debate, but it should done by the parties who would be involved… that seems to be the biggest problem.  Here in the western world we come off as the leaders in modernity, the ones who try and qualm those forest fires around the world, but it’s done in an ethnocentric way.  Giving a solution to a problem to a person or group of people is a delicate matter.  Here is an example:

India has a problem with hunger, but one cannot go and simply say that because they have abundance in cattle that they should just eat them.  That is an absurd suggestion for the mere fact that to them the cow is a holy animal.  Now if you look at it historically this wasn’t  always the case, during Vedic times whey slaughtered and consumed cows (if you are interested in more, read on Marvin Harris and the Sacred Cow).  India a one of the few places that still has a wide range of plants growing, and if we were to look at their agrobiodiveristy one could try and understand what is going on that they are not using it to their advantage.  This is just one of the examples of what I mean by really digging deep into the root and trying to understand a culture and bring about solutions that are within their means.

Now, when it comes to women it is a bit more difficult to try and generalize it so boldly, for one, women encompass the entire world, there are more women than men, and we humans characterize each other through many different facets.

But I would like to touch on at least one of these facets, and that would be religion.  Understandably there are several religions, and beliefs.  It is one of the things at many of us hold as a corner stone in our lives.  When you are taken to the hospital and are in a dire situation they will ask what your religion/believe is, it is an integral part of many of our lives.

When taking a glance at the kind of violence that seems to consume women it seems that there is a strong correlation between Abrahamic religions and women who live in a society/country that places heavy enforcement on it through laws, and other everyday life.   Abrahamic religions are considered to be those that are monotheistic and derive from Abraham; Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Bahai Faith.

Here in the U.S we have affectionately called the southeastern and south-central region, the Bible belt.  These areas tend to be mostly conservative and apply much of their faith to everyday life.  Just recently Texas GOP lawmaker stated that rape kits can give abortions.  If you are a female and this doesn’t get you fuming, then start thinking about exactly what that sentence has placed together.  The battle to have regulate women’s bodies has been a hot issue since men realized they  couldn’t push a button and make us do as they please (once again, I am not referring to all men, but those extreme conservatives, ‘take word for word of the Bible as is’ men).   This is just one way modern society here is trying to regulate women, to under value our individual right as humans.   The constant attempts to have women forgo their reproductive rights is something that might seem as harmless to many, until you are faced with a that wall when you are in need to stretch and practice those rights.

Saudi Arabi is still a country that does not allow women to vote.  It is 2013, we have successfully been able to grow ears on the backs of mice and women in Saudi Arabia have yet been allowed to do what is only inherently human- and that is to voice their opinion as an equal, because that is what we are.  This is a country with deep religious ties, where hours are put aside during the day and pray.  It is a place where women are still restricted in their form of dress, as if temptation itself were to be possessed over men if they should catch a glimpse of their wrists.

In the Middle East women are stoned, bartered at a young age for marrige, and sold.  Women are not the equal of men.  It is stated in much of the Bible’s Old Testament that the man is the head and that women are to be submissive. That men should love their wife’s as they would love themselves, but it never says as their equal.  Abrahamic religions set women aside in many ways; women are the ones who were blamed for the fall from Paradise, coerced man to bite into the forbidden fruit, we are cunning, and dirty.  Orthodox Jews do not come in contact with women when they are menstruating for the they are unclean.  In Islamic religion women are covered up, and only given a couple of inches to see the world.  Why should women’s bodies be something that brings shame?  Why is it that there is such a need to have women treated as property and not as an equal of society who is entitled to her own views, actions, and body?

Religion has long been the scapegoat for wars, and now it is also the scapegoat for the treatment of women.  To regulate women, and put them in an enclosed sphere where they are not seen as one anothers equal.   It is somewhat clear that there seems to be a fear about women with these religions.  Why the need to have them encapsulated into such definite positions?  Why the need to cut a woman’s clitoris and sew them up?  Why is there that need to restrict the pleasure of a woman?

The Dalai Lama said something that was very poignant in regarding religion and our current state;

All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values.  But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.  This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

We are becoming a world where the more educated we become, the more tolerant we seem to be.  Lack of information drives human to fear that which is unknown to them, to see it as evil, or foreign- this is all evident through mankind’s literary works and even now.  It is of the utmost importance to bring to light that women are no more different than man.

Just a little fact here if you are so inclined:

Did you know that we all start out in our early developmental states (while still in the womb) as female?  The embryo may have inherited the needed XY chromosomes to genetically render it a male, but it is the chemical timing and release of hormones at an essential developmental stage that will conclusively project this outwardly.

I apologize if I was all not as structured as I would have liked it to have been.

About Love and Anthropology

Just a single girl trying to make it out of this world unscathed. I am deeply interested in people, and how they adapt to their surroundings. I look at life and every conversation as a gateway into understanding this crazy thing we call life.

9 responses to “Religion & Women- A Brief Look

  1. This is a lot of very interesting information. I hate hearing things like you point out that the women in Saudi Arabia cannot vote. You are right, in this day and age that is absolutely absurd. What I am sad you didn’t point out is the little acts of gender oppression that we all deal with daily that men just don’t even pay attention to. Why do men and woman perform the same job yet the man gets paid more? Why when you hear the word Doctor or Lawyer does a mans face come into your mind when there are just as many women performing those jobs? Why is a stay at home mom looked down upon yet a Man caregiver commended when we are just fulfilling our “gender” roles? The gender issue is a close one to my heart and I am glad you gave a more global view of it.

    • Sorry for such a late reply! Women’s rights are very dear and close to my heart, and I absolutely agree with you; there is a major gender gap here, non-third world countries that cannot and should not be overlooked. I touched on it very briefly, but it is what is going on globally that really needs attention too. I feel like we sometimes get stuck in our own bubble, and we forget that equality and something that is being fought for everywhere at different levels, and that culture is a major factor in how we interpret things. Thank you for stopping by, and your insight. I truly appreciate it 🙂

  2. What shocks me is that gender inequality is not something restricted to highly-religious eastern countries, it’s still rife in western countries too such as the UK and US (albeit in a more subtle fashion like lower salaries etc.). Despite all of our social and technological advancements in the past century, our ‘male dominant’ society has a long way to progress before women can be considered truly equal. There is so much media focus nowadays on equal rights for LGBT folk plus ethnic and racial minorities, which is a good thing, however gender equality seems to have been placed on the back burner. That definitely needs to change.

    Excellent post, and I particularly like the ending about embryonic development. I have mentioned this fact to many arrogant men over the years… it’s a great argument closer 😉

    • You are absolutely right! There is still a huge misconception that places such as the UK and US still hold women at a lower level (i.e. salary). This is of course done at a much subtle level like you’ve mentioned, but at the same time it is still incredibly prevalent. It seems that as much as we try to progress individuals as a whole we have taken to do it in groups. Equality and respect is something that should be done across the board regardless of sex, ethnicity, or lifestyle preference.
      Thank you so much for reading and your support! I do like the ending statement as well 🙂

  3. Things are actually getting better in a lot of ways, at least in the West. Religion in early times was all about control and marginalization of women. We need to put the men in time out and let the women run everything for a few millennium….

    • This “time out” idea of yours is very interesting 😉

      But, yes. There has been a lot of progress made towards women in the West, but there is still many misconceptions and marginalization of women in many professions. I hope that one day we can all just be seen as equals, and not by what we physically represent.

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