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Critically evaluate the claim that all religious doctrines and institutions exercise patriarchal control over women.

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Introduction

Critically evaluate the claim that all religious doctrines and institutions exercise patriarchal control over women. Patriarchy is a social system, which systematically benefits males over females. Many feminist have argued that religion is a patriarchal institution. Teachings and practices from a range of religions suggest that males are benefited over females. This claim can be supported simply by looking at a quote from one of the religious books. For example the Islamic holy book states 'women have the same rights in relation to their husbands as are expected in all decency of them, while men stand a step above them'. This demonstrates a common teaching displayed in most of the world religions, teaching that women hold a lower status to men. Again this can be demonstrated through noting that most Gods from the world religions are male. Similarly the majority of all religious professionals are male. In Christianity females are not eligible to become priests in the Roman Catholic Church, nor can they become imams in Islam. However this idea can be challenges as it seems that as far as Christian churches are concerned, women are more likely than men to attend a religious service and 66%of regular church goers are women. ...read more.

Middle

Nawal El Saadawi argues that it is not essentially religion that oppresses women but rather it's the patriarchal system that uses it. For example, although Islam doesn't preach oppressive practices, men have distorted it to serve themselves. It should not be assumed that all religions are oppressive to women. Some sociologists have acknowledged that women can no longer be seen as simply being passive. Leila Badwali (1994) has noted that in the Islamic religion, women can actually keep their name when they get married. Helen Watson argues that the veiling of Islamic women can be interpreted as beneficial to Muslim women. She examined three responses by Islamic women and found that Islamic women were very open about the positive aspects of wearing a veil. However Watson's work has been criticized of interpreting too simplistically the practices of a religion that is not her own. Her observations were based on three women and she appears to have made no attempt to find women who felt they were forced into wearing the veil against their will. ...read more.

Conclusion

Why replace a woman's sacred mission with the ideal that having a business or professional carer is a goal for itself? Why should raising a family be seen as a secondary course of action, only after one has first had a business of professional career? It may seem that women hold a secondary role in religious activities. For example, women are not called up to the Torah for an Aliyah and they are not counted as part of a minyan in the synagogue, but this is irrelevant to their worth! Aliyah means 'ascent' referring to the spiritual loftiness that a man can achieve when they are part of the minyan. Women however achieve this in a different way. Again; equal but different. In light of the above evidence it would seem that religious text may have been misinterpreted in society to benefit patriarchy, however this does not mean that women are subordinate to men, as they still seem to benefit from their religiosity and even though they are treated differently to men, this does not make them any less of worth. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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