Critically assess the view that religion opresses women (33 marks)

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Critically assess the view that religion oppresses women (33 marks)

Women’s religious oppression has long been an issue for religious women and sociologists. Much of the evidence to suggest that women are oppressed comes from the sociologist view of feminism. Feminists tend to formulate that women are disprivileged due to the fact that religion is a mainly patriarchal institution where supernatural beings and leaders are overwhelmingly male. However, this is a blanket definition and can be defined in several different branches. Altogether, there are three main denominations. Liberal, Radical and Marxist feminists all approach patriarchal religion with slightly different idea towards religion but essentially aiming for the same thing.

Liberal feminists are the most well known of all. Their main aim is to gain religious equality for women by removing their obstacles that their religions put onto them to allow them the right to become priests and other forms of figures of importance. While, radical feminists take a more direct approach to the issue by saying that religion exists solely for the benefit of men. They also believe that the rise of monotheism is a problem due to the fact that it is hard to find a religion where their one and only supreme being is female. In the same light, Marxist feminists also take a very direct method to approach women’s oppression. They say that religion is a tool of compensation for women while exploiting them doubly if they are of a lower class and female. As with all Marxist ideologies, their ultimate aim would be revolution.

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By looking at religion directly it is easy to see how many patriarchal constraints there are over women. Although there are some rising female readers of religion, scriptures were first and foremost written and interpreted by men and it is men that are the head of the churches in Islam and Catholicism. This could mean that many values and ideologies such as the wearing of the Burka, beatings, female circumcision and bans on contraception may have been misinterpreted for men’s gain and passed on through generation to generation. Many religious women are still not permitted to become priests or ...

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