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Women and Religion

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Women and Religion

  1. 1. Women and Religion By Stacy Evazich, Leah Ecklund, and Jordan Ryan
  2. 2. Diversity and the Study of Women and Religion  The treatment of women in major religions varies based on which religion is being looked at. (Burn 175)  Smaller, local religions tend to give women a more important role.  Religious fundamentalists hold ancient scripture to be infallible and stick to “traditional” gender roles.  Most fundamentalist religions don’t hate women, but put their focus on protecting them. (Burn 177)  Most religions align with what’s known as “benevolent sexism,” which has three domains  Protective Paternalism, which says men should protect women.  Complementary Gender Differentiation, which says that gender roles are natural.  Heterosexual Intimacy, which says that heterosexual romances are essential.
  3. 3. Critiquing & Deconstructing Religion  Almost all religions are fatherly in origin, development, leadership, authority and power (Burn 178).  Feminist Theology reconsiders religions from a feminist point of view (Burn 178).  God is commonly portrayed as a male (Burn 178). Women are often excluded from religious positions of leadership and rituals (Burn 178).
  4. 4. Critiquing and Deconstructing Religion Masculine God-Language God, Allah, Heavenly Father, He  Jesus(Christianity), Muhammad(Islam), and Buddha(Buddhism) are all male (Burn 179).  Cultural views that God is male, results in a view that males are more “God-like” (Burn 179).  Contributes to thinking that males are entitled to be spiritual, and family leaders (Burn 179).  Women are expected and typically do accept male dominance (Burn 179).  Just because the language is masculine doesn’t mean God is gendered (Burn 179).  Male God = Power, Female God = Merciful (Burn 179).  Arguments that questioning masculine language questions the accuracy of scriptures as the word of God (Burn 179).
  5. 5. Sexism in Religious Texts  Women are typically portrayed as (Burn 180):  Sexually dangerous  Less than males  Obedient wives, homemakers, & mothers.  Being different  Lower status is a result of sinful nature.  Presence of women in scriptures is limited (Burn 180).  Scriptures themselves aren’t sexist, it’s how they’re interpreted/translated (Burn 180).  Literal interpretation (the word of God)  Allegorical interpretation (moral lesson)  Sexism can often be related to literal interpretations (Burn 180). Critiquing and Deconstructing Religion
  6. 6. Critiquing and Deconstructing Religion Gender-Segregated Religious Practices  Men practice their religion in public, and women practice in the home (Burn 181).  Leadership roles are filled by men (Burn 181). Women often cannot become Nuns until they have stopped menstruating and entered menopause, she “is no longer enslaved by physical desire,” (Hannig 11).  Women are spiritually inferior to men (Burn 181).  Just because women’s role is private it is not inferior. The “heart of religious tradition” is conducted by women (Burn 181).  Food is one resource controlled by women in many cultures, it is also women’s key role in religious traditions (Burn 182).
  7. 7. Reforming and Reconstructing Religion  Changing the image of God and prayer to be all inclusive (de-masculinize) (Burn 182).  Re-examine religious texts and historical records to uncover women’s roles in religion (Burn 183).  Women’s apparent low status has occurred over time (Burn 183).  Encouraging and promoting women into leadership roles within their religious traditions (Burn 183)
  8. 8. Islam Women and the World’s Major Religions  There are several different forms of Islam.  Muhammad recorded the word of God into the text that is called the Qur’an (Koran). Other texts include the Sunnah and Hassan which are the sayings and actions of Muhammad (Burn 184).  5 Pillars of Islam (Burn 184):  Profess Faith in God’s oneness and to accept Muhammad as God’s Prophet.  Pray 5 times a day.  Fast during the holy month of Ramadan.  Give alms.  Make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once.  Women wear a hijab (head scarf), abaya (long dress or coat and headscarf), burqua (full coverage garment from head to toe) (Burn 185).  Ritual washings required of women after menstruation and sex. Women are not allowed to touch the Qur’an until after their cycle is complete and the ritual performed (Burn 185).
  9. 9. Women and the World’s Islam Cont’d Major Religions  Services (Mosques) are segregated (Burn 185).  Shari’ah is a practice that punishes women for behavior deemed immoral or immodest (Burn 184).  In 2009 a law was passed that required women to ask permission to leave their houses, and giving husbands the right to deny food if the women weren’t compliant to sexual demands (Burn 185).  Early Islam supported women’s education and literacy. However Islamic past is used to justify women’s primary roles as wives and mothers (Abugideiri 133).  Historical interpretations omitted or diminished women’s roles. Women were integral to the religion and even held authoritative positions (Abugideiri 134).  “as an institution, patriarchy feeds on the eradication of women’s moral agency, it erases and marginalizes women; and most significantly, it negates the possibility of true surrender to Islam,” (Abugideiri 136)
  10. 10. Judaism  Judaism is the oldest western religion. (Burn 187)  Judaism has two important texts.  Torah, the first five chapters of the old testament. (Burn 187)  Talmud, a document teaching the meaning of the Torah, and the practice of Judaism. (Burn 188)  Historically, Judaism is considered one of the most sexist religions. (Burn 188)  In Jewish texts, the imagery of God is masculine.  Parts of the Talmud implies that women should be restricted in public prayer, and study of the Torah. It also depicts them as a distraction from the males study of prayer.  In some communities, married women have to wear hats or wigs. Women and the World’s Major Religions
  11. 11. Women and the World’s Judaism (contd.)  Jewish feminists have brought much reform recently. (Burn 189)  Names of the foremothers have been added to the list of names for the forefathers.  Shown that the Talmud supports gender equality, containing protections against the exploitation of women.  Orthodox feminists changed laws detrimental to women. (Burn 190)  Law that only allowed men to initiate a divorce has been changed. Major Religions
  12. 12. Women and the World’s Hinduism  There are 9 core beliefs in the Hindu faith: Major Religions including divinity of the 4 Vedas, belief in one supreme being, endless cycles of creation, reincarnation, ritual worship, that all life is sacred, & one should be tolerant and understanding. (Kauai)  Belief that all life is one; all life comes from one universal source.  Higher power at work (similar to Allah or God figures) (Gandhi 32)  All things in the universe (big or small, being or object) is pervaded by God, Creator, or Lord.  Isha = the Ruler (“he who is the Creator naturally by very right becomes the Ruler too) (Gandhi 44)  Sacredness of all living things - belief in constant cycle of life and death (reincarnation) of all living things in the universe.
  13. 13. Women and the World’s Buddhism  South East Asia traditional religion Major Religions  Experience of the religion is comprised of objective & subjective components: - the things around us & we the perceivers of the world. - emotion built off of form, feeling, consciousness, & perception (Santina 8-9)  Role of women in early Buddhism: - women seen on lowest level of followers. Freedom was very limited, had strict roles in society as only caregivers to males and older generations.
  14. 14. Buddhism Cont.  The Buddha lectured on belief that humans have potential to be free from suffering by practicing meditation & lifestyle - teachings = referred to as the Dharma (Stanford 1:A) - Four Noble Truths: Life is suffering Suffering is caused by craving Suffering can have an end There is a path leading to end of suffering  Goal of Buddhism = to achieve Nirvana - only achievable by ridding of greed, hate, & ignorance within oneself. (Stanford 2:C)
  15. 15. Women and the World’s Christianity Major Religions  Religious text is the Bible, the Bible is broken into 2 parts the Old and New Testaments. Jesus is the son of God, born of a woman, Mary.  Many branches of Christianity. Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox are the main ones (Burn 196).  Women’s roles are to be as wife and mother, not leaders (Burn 196).  Mary (the mother of Jesus) is highly respected and worshiped in Christianity. There are also female saints (Burn 197).  Traditional denominations of Christianity are very patriarchal and practice the Bible very literally. Other branches of Christianity practice the Bible more allegorically and are more progressive of women’s roles (Burn 197).  Several branches of Christianity will not ordain women though 1/3rd of the student body graduating from seminaries are women (Burn 198).  Christian feminists are also reexamining religious texts to determine the untold history of their roles in it’s growth (Burn 198).  Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus, “ (Gal. 3:28)
  16. 16. Women and the World’s Major Religions Orthodox Christianity  Church doesn’t allow a women’s entry into church while she has her period (Hannig 298).  Orthodox Christianity attributes “holiness to wholeness,” (Hannig 299).  Purity and cleansing ceremony is required to receive communion, women with fistulas , or menstruating women cannot receive communion because they can never be “pure” enough, (Hannig 299).  Individuals (women and men) unable to regulate bodily flow (mensturation, a fistula, runny nose, flu and diarrhea) were required to stand at the gate, and not allowed to enter the property the church occupied for fear their secretions would desecrate the Holy ground (Hannig 306).  Men can choose to become monks by remaining celibate, only after a woman ceases menstruation is she able to become a nun. Nuns are not allowed to perform religious ceremonies (Hannig 307).
  17. 17. Women and the World’s Christianity Cont’d Major Religions  Before Christianity for every 100 women there were 140 males, resulting in a population decline. Female infants were frequently discarded, and mortality was high during child birth and abortions (Stark 231).  At the ratio that men outnumbered women, women would fill repressive roles, if the ratio would have been reversed women would enjoy relatively greater power (Stark 234). The first five centuries of Christianity the congregation had a higher female population than male (Stark 238). Women held positions of authority in the church (Stark 239).  Christianity was very appealing to women because it gave women more rights and power for the era, it did not allow infanticide, abortion, adultery or divorce (Stark 232).  Christians prized chastity, not just for women, but men also (Stark 236).  Christian widows were able to keep and manage their own estates, while pagan’s were forced to remarry (Stark 236).  As more women converted their husbands to Christanity and the ratios equalized, women’s roles became repressed again (Startk 239).
  18. 18. Intersectional Feminist Theologies  A number of feminist theologies, focusing on empowering women across the world, exist.  Liberation Theologies – Focus on equality for women through religious texts. (Burn 199)  Womanist Theologies – Developing liberation theology, focuses on Black women across the world, and uses their social, religious, and cultural experiences to bring their voice into the discussion. (Burn 199)  Post-colonial Theologies – An African/Asian feminist theology that focuses on reclaiming non-patriarchal traditions & interpretations that were common before colonization.(Burn 199)  Native American Feminist Theologies – Challenges the traditional patriarchal history of Native American colonies. (Burn 199 – 200)
  19. 19. Feminist Spirituality  Separation of feelings about God from traditional religion; working towards creating new traditions and focusing towards older ones that value women empowerment. (Burn 200)  Goddess Spirituality – based on the belief that humans lived in peace & harmony with nature during a goddess-worshipping pre-history. (Burn 200) - Worshipping the Goddess figure: Home alter, reproduction of figure, & natural objects. Connections to personal life with family photos. (Burn 200) - Rituals involve singing, dancing, meditation, chanting Intended to connect with nature & life cycle (Burn 201)
  20. 20. Feminist Spirituality Cont.  Wicca/Witchcraft = form of spirituality based on witchcraft traditions, including Gods & Goddesses. - Dianic Witchcraft = feminist form worshipping feminine divine in all-female covens. - Emphasizes that common stereotypes (dangerous/self-serving) were created to eliminate this source of feminine empowerment. - Ecofeminist = emphasizes activism for peace & the environment (Burn 201)  “Witch Hunts” = impacted women’s power throughout history. - fear of accusation kept women obedient and quiet - campaign for hunting took the power away from the women - practicing women once used as village healers, now accused and removed from jobs (Burn 201)
  21. 21. Works Cited Abugideiri, Hibba. “Revisiting the Islamic Past, Deconstructing Male Authority: The Project of Islamic Feminism.” Religion and Literature 42.1-2 (2010): 133-139. Print. Burn, Shawn Meghan. Women Across Cultures, A Global Perspective. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print. Hannig, Anita. “The Pure and the Pious: Corporeality, Flow, and Transgression in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.” Journal of Religion in Affrica 43 (2013): 297- 328. Print. Stark, Rodney. “Reconstructing the Rise of Christianity: The Role of Women.” Sociology of Religion. 56:3 (1995): 229-244. Print. “Nine Beliefs of Hinduism”. Basics of Hinduism. N.p.,n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014 www.himalayanacademy.com/readlearn/basics/nine-beliefs Santina, Peter D., Dr. Fundamentals of Buddhism. Tokyo: Nichiren Shoshu International Center, 1993. Web. 10 Nov. 2014 Stanford. An Introduction to Buddhism. Sydney: Chinese Buddhist Society of Australia, 1980. Stanford.edu. Stanford Spice, Sept.-Oct. 2007, Web. 11 Nov. 2014 Swami, Sivananda, Sri. All About Hinduism. Tehri-Garhwal, U.P., Himalayas, India: Divine Life Society, 1993. 1999 Web. 10 Nov. 2014

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