Writing for Free Inquiry, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism, columnist Katha Politt has suggested that:
“the subordination of women has historically been one of the main purposes of religion—the original rulebook for patriarchy.”
Patriarchy refers to a society in which men tend to exert a great deal of control over women and the ideology of a male god is often used to make the economic and political subordination of women to seem legitimate and somehow natural.
Many writers have pointed out the sexism of today’s major religions—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism—which appears to place women in secondary roles in both religion and in daily life.
Katha Politt also writes:
“To find a woman-centered religion, you have to back into prehistory, to mother-goddess cults about which we know little and that in any case cannot be proven to have reflected or shaped a matriarchal society in which women were powerful and independent social actors (though it would be nice to think that they did so).”I know about the major world religions (other than Buddhism) primarily through academic study rather than personal experience. With regard to personal experience, I have often seen sexism and patriarchy in action in many Native American ceremonies in which women are segregated both physically and spiritually into secondary or minor roles. With my knowledge of traditional ways, I feel that this degradation of women within Native American spiritual traditions has come about because of the influence of Christianity and a move away from the animistic roots.
On the other hand, my experience with Wicca has been much more female centered and feminist.
So what has been your experience: are religions sexist?
This is an open thread. Feel free to change the subject and talk about what’s happening in your life, what you’ve been working on, and what’s for dinner.