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Sociology : Religion and Women

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Introduction

SOCIOLOGY : RELIGION AND WOMEN Religion can be seen to act as a social control over women to a large extent. The feminist perspective argues religion serves the interests of men and cements patriarchal power. Karen Armstrong points out the ways in which God has been redefined by each era, by men to continually meet their needs. We can see this in relation to two main ideas, the nature of religious imagery. In most religions, women tend to be portrayed in terms of their "traditional" social characteristics. The "Virgin Mary" in Christian religion for example. Although a powerful figure her power, is ideological rather than political - the virtues of purity, chastity, motherhood and so forth are personified through her as ideals for womanhood. ...read more.

Middle

The nature of religious organisation is another issue when stating the extent to which religion is used as a social control over women. While women, feature strongly in both religious participation and to a certain extent, imagery, it is evident that there has been a very noticeable inequality between males and females in terms of positions of power and authority within religious organisations. Although some sects have allowed women to preach and spread the word, the majority of the world's major religions have tended to relegate women to relatively subordinate roles, in terms of their power, authority and influence in their organisation (which further reflects women's experience in the social world). ...read more.

Conclusion

But from a Muslim view it can be liberating for women as in an increasingly globalised world where western culture is influencing them the veil can take on new meanings for women. As to what extent religion acts as a social control over women, it is difficult to specify. As it cannot be assumed that all religions have been equally oppressive to women. In addition even some apparently oppressive practices may be open to interpretations. Also some theorists argue religion itself is not oppressive but due to the patriarchal system, so in these terms religion can be seen to be exploited by the dominant males to benefit and protect their interests and so religion has been used as a social control over women to a greater extent than women themselves may have thought. ...read more.

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