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Is religion compatible with feminism?
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Religion can promote female sexuality

Some mainstream religions, such as Hinduism, promote desire and sex for pleasure equally to both sexes. Historically, women and men were able to engage in polygamous relationships, and sexual pleasure, and the use of sexual prowess was not taboo.

The Argument

In Hinduism there are four goals in life, one of them being Kama. Kama is about attaining disciplined sexual desire. It is not limited to men, women are encouraged to engage in female sexual pleasure too. In Hinduism, although in some instances celibacy is celebrated for those who choose that way of life, it is not encouraged for those living in the world. Sex is encouraged as part of reproduction, but not limited to the purpose of reproduction. [1] Desire, as long as it is consistent with ahimsa (non-violence) to other living beings, is not sinful, and this applies equally to both sexes. It is seen as a natural urge such as hunger or thirst. It is also seen as a moral obligation to reproduce through the goals of life. Polygamy was acceptable. Although there are many references to males being married to multiple women and engaging in sex with other willing women, unmarried and widowed women were also enabled to choose sexual partners or remarry.[2] In the Mahabharata, Draupadi, who is famously known for being derobed in a palace full of men, protected by Lord Krishna, was married to five brothers, all five of whom she was engaged in intercourse with. Here her sexual prowess is celebrated for being able to manipulate one of her husbands into killing Kichaka, who lusted after her and dragged her by the hair and kicked her as she was disguised as a maid at his palace. [3]

Counter arguments

Although there is emphasis on the idea of Kama, and female sexuality for pleasure in Hinduism, this is predominantly geared towards women who are married. The idea of female virginity or of being a "kanya" is given great significance placing societal taboo on pre-marital sex. Communities in India and Indian communities internationally hold the view that a woman who is a virgin is more desirable for marriage than a woman who is not. Some see it as value currency, some see it as a sacred thing and some see it as a manner of avoiding STDs. Religion is used to explain this. It is stated that Hinduism encourages a woman to be a virgin as "kanya" means virgin and on the wedding day, the father giving the daughter away is called "kanyadaan" meaning donating the daughter. It is argued that the woman has to be a virgin for this to be valid. "Kanya" is currently described as virgin, however this is something that may have had different interpretations through passages of time. Young women are often emotionally blackmailed to remain a virgin so that their parents can get a blessing for donating a virgin daughter. The word "veshya" for example is used to describe a prostitute. This word however was used for women who choose to live with sexual autonomy according to her own standards, not for women who received payment for their services. These ideologies restrict female sexual desire and autonomy, yet none of these standards apply to men, and therefore religion can serve as a tool to inhibit female sexuality, rather than liberate it. [4]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Thursday, 19 Nov 2020 at 00:35 UTC

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