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Consider the role religion plays in the lives of women.

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Introduction

Consider the role religion plays in the lives of women In order to consider the role religion plays in the lives of women in the 21st century society, it is necessary to note the decline of female importance in modern and ancient faith. It is important to note that women have not always been subordinate to men in religion but this second-class status is fairly recent. Karen Armstrong notes that women were considered central to the spiritual quest, as archaeologists have uncovered, across Europe and Asia, effigies of naked, pregnant women seeming to depict fertility and life. Armstrong argues that male aggression exhibited through the invasion of these societies by male dominated cultures from the northern hemisphere brought the end to the 'Mother Goddess' with the establishment of monotheism. Women's bodies are also felt to be dangerous by many religions. Menstruation and pregnancy are thought to 'pollute' religious rituals. Muslim women who are either pregnant or menstruating are not allowed to enter the mosque or touch the Koran. Also female presence may distract men from worship. Bird highlights that sexuality is an important issue in many religions. ...read more.

Middle

He claims that this is why women were son prominent in many religious sects such as the Seventh Day Adventist Church (Ellen White) and Christian Science (Mary Baker Eddy who was inducted into the US National Women's Hall of Fame). Women are more likely to join sects than men and Bruce (1995) suggests at a ratio of 2:1. This maybe because women are more likely to experience to deprivation than men and this group is known to be more likely to join sects. This deprivation maybe social (women in poorly paid professions who lack prestige and power due to patriarchy) or ethical (where women see the world to be in a state of moral decline). Thompson (1996) notes that 'sect members have the promise of salvation and the knowledge that they are enlightened' and women are more likely to see a need within themselves for self improvement as women, in my opinion, are less egotistical than men. Cults often offer a more privatised version of religious activity and are therefore favoured more by females who submit to a more traditional gender role. However in some cults such as Rastafarianism, women are encouraged to have a much more traditional role in the home. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be fair to comment that women faith plays a different role in different women's lives according to their faith and upbringing. For example, fundamentalist Muslim women will have a different take on religion than a woman that belongs to a modernised, secular society. However, I think that religion is dominated by a patriarchal rationale. This means that men use religion as a social force to maintain and justify their social dominance. This male centred approach to religion is rooted throughout the majority of world religions, as noted by Holm and Bawker. However, it must be noted that religion should not be viewed with an ethno centric approach. Watson works on the veiling of Muslim women found that they did not find such attire oppressive but more liberating that men wouldn't judge them on there looks but on their personalities. Watson commented that sociological findings should not be viewed simplistically if studying a religion that is not their own. In a postmodern society, women are finding different places for religion within their lives. Some find it reassuring, some as an expression of male control and others as an activity to fill spare time but in modern day society it should be, according to interactionalist theory, up to the individual how they expressed their religious observances. ...read more.

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