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Is religion compatible with feminism?
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Religion can be matriarchal

Historically, religion has been matriarchal. In every ancient religion, Goddesses are worshipped, with women being central to the household. There are still many religions that uphold this ideal.

The Argument

Female deities have been worshipped in ancient human civilizations. Before the development of mainstream religion, women were worshipped as creators of the universe. Matriarchy in religion can be traced back to the paleolithic and theolithic ages with evidence to suggest that societies followed matrilineal structures with women being central to the household. Anthropologists have discovered figurines of pregnant women rooting back to paleolithic ages, which emanated from various parts of the world, such as Europe, the Middle East, and India. These goddesses were not limited to the ideal of a housemaker who was mother due to fertility, they were also presented in fierce forms in war, as counselors and providers of culture. Their role was pivotal. By 1500 BC, this view was altered to make man god, and the role of a goddess was presented as the wife of god, or in a subordinate manner to man. The idea of god being king emerged. Not all religions, however, let go of their roots of worshipping women. Hindus worship the mother as the energy and power of the universe. Woman is conveyed in various forms, akin to goddesses in Greek mythology, where Kali and Durga embody the fierce temperaments, and Gayatri, Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati, respectively, convey temperaments of peace, women being the fortune of the household, fertility and home-making, and educated and liberated. In Buddhism women are also given higher status, such as Bodhisattva Guan Yin, who embodies the divine feminine. History conveys that religion is matriarchal. [1]

Counter arguments

Mainstream religions encourage patriarchy by assuming male superiority. Women are depicted as subordinate in all respects. Because of this ideology women are afforded fewer rights and autonomy as they are seen as vulnerable beings in need of protection and control. For example, Eve was seen as foolish, for eating the forbidden fruit, which was indicative of man being intellectually superior and incapable of succumbing to such temptation. The Genesis accordingly gives man the right to rule over his wife. There are duties set out to guide and protect wives. These higher rights afforded to men can also have catastrophic consequences for women. For example, in Islam, men are afforded the right to call an instantaneous divorce. This seems to connotate that women cannot make rational decisions. The practice of Sati in Hinduism was a practice of self-immolation by women in India on their husband's funeral pyres if they became a widow. It indicates that a woman loses the capacity to live without her husband. The story underlying this was about a woman who was enraged by her father's disrespect towards her partner, Lord Shiva, and self-immolated. This became the ideal of a chaste woman. Married women are made to dress in a particular manner, and in some cultures wear items to symbolize their sexually exclusive status. The same standards do not apply to men. This ideology is embedded within different cultures, and not only are men conditioned to believe it, but women are conditioned to accept their fate and be obedient to it. Anyone challenging these norms is branded to be blasphemous or "impure" otherwise.[2]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Thursday, 19 Nov 2020 at 00:34 UTC

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