Is there a division between feminism and religion?
In most religions there seems to be a patriarchal system that places men in positions of power. Women are not often seen in leadership and sometimes do not even have the same religious rights that men do. The exclusion of feminism in religion happens all over the world. That being said, not all religions are in opposition to feminism, and it is absolutely possible to be a religious feminist.
It is not always the foundation of the religion that rejects feminism, but more so the people who currently practice it. In some cases, religious text will clearly state the roles of men and women and often cast women in a more submissive light.
I am most familiar with Christianity’s views of feminism in the Church. I can say from experience that most denominations do not accept feminist beliefs in the Church. I do not believe that this is anywhere in the Bible and I believe that many Christians fail to represent their faith when they exclude people from the Church. The best way I have heard the scripture interpreted is that we must submit to one another in the body of Christ. There is no hierarchy of the Spirit. The Bible says that a husband and wife should have mutual submission in marriage and to serve one another daily. Like several other religions, in Christianity God is a genderless being and is talked about in scripture as being both a mother and a father which allows people to recognize themselves as image bearers of Christ.
The word “Islam” means submission, and Muslims believe in submission to God. Many Muslim women face oppression for wearing modest clothing or a Hijab in America and feel separated from American Society for outwardly practicing their religion. Looking inwardly at Islam, it is easy to recognize the division of men and women. One example is they way that women are supposed to dress modestly and cover the majority of their bodies while men do not have to do this. Many Muslim women appreciate this and do not mind wearing the coverings, but whether or not they feel oppressed or have less access to the same rights that men have, is not the issue at hand. Another example is that many mosques have separate prayer rooms for men and women, and the men’s prayer rooms are often much larger and more elaborately decorated, while women’s prayer rooms are smaller and not as detailed. Some of these things are seen as powerful in different ways, and while it may not be equal, we should not judge other religious practices. Women all over the world are experiencing religious oppression in one way or another and it is important to break down the barrier between feminism and religion.
Many religious texts, practices, and beliefs are up for interpretation. I would say that this is why there are so many different religions and different ways to practice each religion. Religion as a whole may not be against feminism or against women, but there are many ways that women still experience religious oppression to this day. I have changed my own views on Biblical text and scripture in my lifetime based on new interpretations and the shifts in my own political, societal, and feminist views. I believe that religion and spirituality is for all people. If there is one religion that is against a particular gender or sex or people group, then that religion is not for everyone. People should experience religious freedom as a human right. Gender inequality should not be tolerated in any religious context. Religions should be open to change and open to new interpretations as its foundational text was written to a certain group of people at a particular time in history, but is for us. It is for humanity in every season.
Whether you are religious or not, I would recommend you consider this and educate yourself on the intersection of religious freedom and women’s rights and well as feminism having a place in religion.
4 thoughts on “Is Religion Against Women?”
Thank you for the educational post! I love what you said about how gender inequality should have no place within religion.
I absolutely agree with you on the fact that there are instances where many religions can oppress women. But at the same time, we can’t forget that many muslim women (in America at least) completely chose to wear a hijab, what you’re saying is a common misconception.
This is an important post, I enjoyed reading it! I think it is very important to acknowledge that religion can often suppress women and feminist values. However, @pinkbabybunny’s is also very important. We must also recognize that women in these religions also follow and practice with joy and respect for their faith!
This was a very interesting and important read! I personally believe 98% of religion and religious practices oppress women, as I have seen that within my own life with my heavily devoted Italian-Catholic family. However, some of my family enjoy partaking in the religion and practices as they feel it lifts them up and helps them better themselves. It’s a hard balance to find.