Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

Does Religion Oppress or Empower Women?

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            I want to make it clear that I have no issues with religion, and I find the history of religion to be very fascinating. I have great respect for all religions, and for people who are not religious. I would never say that someone is wrong for believing in a God or gods, or not believing in any higher power. I do find religion to have tendencies to oppress women, but it also has become more and more empowering for women. In all churches that I have attended I have never once seen a female pastor, and in Catholicism a women as a priest is out of the question. Another example between the 11th and 14th centuries women were murdered for “witchcraft” which was sometimes claimed if a women refusal to recognize themselves as a Christian. Although during the Witch Trials in America women turned against each other accusing others because of greed, jealousy, etc. Religion also may make women submissive under a man. When married women take the man’s last name making herself a part of his life, and inferior. She was usually required to stay home to take care of children and the home. Since she is inferior in the eyes of God this gave husbands the excuse to abuse or rape wives and women. The book states that religion empowers women by acceptance. But to be accepted by a religious group you must have the same values, morals, and beliefs as them. Most Christian groups for example reject homosexuals. Faith can also oppress women legally. Religious views have a possibility to reduce women’s abortion rights, and to not allow progress in gay and lesbian rights movement.

            Although religion tends be oppressive I think religion has come a long way since the beginning, and now gives women more of a voice than ever. Today many religious families the women are not required to stay home and do housework. For example my grandmother who had my father in 1959 and my aunt in 1960 was not required to stay home to take care of them. She was able to go out and get a job. I also read an article about Catholic women speaking out against the church not allowing women to become priest which started in 2002. There are now more than 100 ordained women priests and 11 bishops who refer to themselves as the Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Another religious group that I would consider empowering to women would be the Wiccan. According to the text the Wiccan practice involves the celebration of feminine, connection with nature, and the practice of healing. Witchcraft encourages women to be strong, confident, and independent. I also feel like religion gives women a chance to interact with other women with similar beliefs and values.

            Whether religion is empowering or oppressive depends on an individual’s perspective. I think religion has to ability to offer comfort and a sense of belonging, but it also does not give women the same opportunities as men, and can have violent tendencies.  



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