Second Wave Of Feminism - Overcoming Religion, Myth And Control

Several of the societal beliefs that contribute to women's oppression or otherwise define and restrict them. 

The most well-known cultural use of myth is religion. 

  • Christianity, Islam, and Judaism — the three main monotheistic global faiths – all grapple with old patriarchal norms. 
  • Other religious traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, contain aspects of patriarchy, or what could be termed sexist behaviors, although they are not as deeply rooted in theological and spiritual ideas as monotheistic religions. This article focuses only on the latter. 

One of the main concerns addressed by feminist theologians is whether patriarchal traditions are required for religious belief and practice.

  • The portrayal of God and leadership within religious groups are two places where this issue is plainly apparent. 
  • God is described in both language and detailed descriptions of God's nature. 
  • God is referred to as "Father" in both Judaism and Christianity; 
  • God is referred to as "Allah" in Islam. 
  • The term Father conjures up images of a parent's affection and care, as well as the authority to establish and execute laws. 

According to feminist theologians, it is a pretty clear allusion to patriarchy. 

  • Furthermore, worship language is often masculine or uses the male pronoun in relation to both God and Christians. 
  • However, God does not have to be shown exclusively as a masculine Father
  • Other terms may also be used to characterize the transcendent being, and these alternatives may be useful in destabilizing patriarchal conceptions

For example, radical feminists advise referring to God as "Goddess" or "Mother God," ecofeminists prefer "Creator," and all feminists support referring to God as "God" in all cases to avoid using masculine pronouns. 

Each of these options connotes a distinct picture of God and highlights various aspects of God. 

  • Human understanding of God's characteristics was a popular subject of study throughout the Middle Ages, and it hasn't lost its allure, particularly in light of feminist concerns regarding the relationship between divine and human traits. 
  • When God is portrayed as a strong, powerful lawgiver, and males are seen to be stronger and more powerful than women, as well as holding positions of authority in the family and state, the logical inference is that men are more like God than women. 
  • Of course, there is much to be said about this, and feminist theologians have thoroughly refuted the argument, claiming that God's attributes are not limited to those masculine characteristics, that philosophy and theology have been dominated by men who created an image of God in their own image, and that God should not be identified (and limited) by essentially human attributes. 

The organizational structures of the main global religions are patriarchal. 

  • Males not only control the majority of leadership posts, but they also have a near-exclusive grip on authority inside institutional faiths. 
  • Women have only lately been allowed to higher levels of leadership in the main monotheistic faiths, and only in a few denominations or sects. 
  • Women's exclusion was justified, at least in Christianity, because of their separation from God and their connection with more worldly, earthly, or physical concerns. 
  • The restrictions against women having positions of authority in churches, like the exclusion of women from other aspects of social life, were often predicated on their reproductive capabilities. 
  • Furthermore, women are banned from the priesthood in Catholicism since it is claimed that Jesus exclusively chose male apostles — despite the fact that women were leaders in the early Christian Church. 

What accepted or conventional theology says about women is another aspect of the connection between women and religion. 

  • Women's responsibilities are described as mainly or exclusively related to the family in all three major global monotheistic faiths. 
  • They often contain clear comments regarding women's inferiority. 
  • Furthermore, they include accusations of women's bodies.
    • Women's bodies are a source of sin or temptation, therefore they must be regulated or covered, as well as women's movements or places in worship sessions. 
    • Women are often instilled with guilt and encouraged to accept lesser positions as a result of such beliefs. 

Feminist answers to religious sexism are diverse, innovative, and varied. 

  • The majority of radical feminists are adamantly opposed to established faiths. 
  • They believe that misogyny is so deeply ingrained in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism that a woman cannot participate without being implicated in it. 
  • To replace the sexist institutions they leave behind, some radical feminists have established new spiritualities and faiths, or resurrected existing non-patriarchal traditions. 

Another feminist approach, maybe less radical but no less difficult, is to try to change organized religion from the outside or from inside. 

  • In any case, feminists use social criticism to expose the inconsistencies in religious belief systems and the sexist aspects that are completely unnecessary for believing. 
  • They also use creativity to change patriarchal imagery and language in religious rituals and to include more women in religious ceremonies.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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