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Feminist Views On Religion Essay

1995 words - 8 pages

Task
Essay Question(s):
Evaluate feminist views on the role
and functions of religion in
society today (18marks)

Patriarchal Vehicle
Evidence of patriarchy;
* Sacred text, places of worship etc.
Woodhead, Armstrong etc
Criticism and strengths.
Task
Essay Question(s):
Evaluate feminist views on the role
and functions of religion in
society today (18marks)

Patriarchal Vehicle
Evidence of patriarchy;
* Sacred text, places of worship etc.
Woodhead, Armstrong etc
Criticism and strengths.

Evaluate postmodernist
explanations of the role &
functions of religion in
contemporary society (33marks)
(Plan and case)

Evaluate postmodernist
explanations of the role &
functions of ...view middle of the document...

As well as this, In Orthodox, Catholism and Judaism women are all forbidden to be female priests. In Catholicism Women are seen as “unclean” and “impure” and so should not be given roles of power within the church, this shows women’s inferiority as they cannot have the same roles as men, this also showing that religion justifies patriarchy by maintaining male dominance and backs up the feminists point that it keeps women in control and stops them from fighting against it. Further, Judaism also instils gender inequality as Women who are menstruating should stay away from them, children and the community showing that women are inferior to men.
Many feminist would argue that religion is a tool of oppression, no different is Jean Holm, where she found that women weren’t allowed to enter places of worship during pregnancy or menstruation. Also females aren’t allowed to be true clergy; while allowed to become priest in the Church of England they will not progress further into priesthood, such as to become a cardinal. Karen Armstrong (1993) continues the notion as she sees women’s exclusion from the priesthood of most religions as evidence of their marginalisation. She also makes note of places of worship; where some women have to sit behind a screen while the men occupy the central and more scared spaces. In Islam when a woman is menstruating she is not allowed to touch the Qur’an. Both feminist maintain an idea of gender apartheid in religion, yet, they fail to consider other possibilities that may have affected religion such as information being lost in translation or altercation. An example can be made of the Qu’ran to which has been translated from ancient Arabic to a mixture of traditional languages, this leaves possibility of errors meaning that it could convey a message that the original text may not of intended.
Linda Woodhead (2002) criticises feminist explanations; that simply equate religion with patriarchy and the oppression of women. While accepting that much traditional religion is patriarchal, she emphasises that this is not true of all religion. She argues that there are ‘religious forms of feminism’ - ways in which women use religion to gain greater freedom and respect. Woodhead uses the example of the hijab or veil worn by many Muslim women. While Western feminists tend to see it as a symbol of oppression, to the wearer it may symbolise resistance to oppression. Woodhead argues that some Muslim women choose to wear the hijab to escape the confines of the home and enter education and employment. For them, the hijab is a symbol of liberation that enables them to enter the public sphere without losing their culture and history.
This is supported by Helen Watson who argues that the veiling of Islamic women can be interpreted as beneficial to Muslim women. She argues that veiling is often a reaction against the increasingly pervasive Western culture. Some Muslim men, too, have begun to reject Western-style clothes – for example, by...

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