Religious beliefs have been known to play a more important role in influencing one’s life, as religious meanings help individuals interpret their experience.Furthermore, religion is also important because it has been know for its influence on society and society’s impact on religion As such, much knowledgeable attention has been paid to how norms of gender roles may be socially, religiously and traditionally constructed.(Mcguire, chapter 1).
Over the years, women’s lives have often been defined by religion. This is because over the last few millennia of documented human history, largely influential cultural systems, such as the religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, the Confucian code of conduct and Judaism, have unequivocally directed that women’s main social duty is to be obedient wives (submissive) and devoted mothers (nurturing) (McGuire, chapter 4).
Religions have brought with them standards, prohibitions and guidelines for female behavior, rules about how one should treat women and views of women that have ranged from empowering to devaluing them.Additionally, spiritual beliefs have also been said to be behind many of women’s repressions as well as advances
In our opinion, in the Christian context, the Roman Catholic Church beliefs is influenced by the Old Testament of the Bible, where they do not ordain women, and that women must remain silent in social settings and be submissive to their male counterparts. The Old Testament of the Bible backs this by stating that:
Under the Roman Catholic Church, this scripture draws a line of boundary for how men and women should behave. From this scripture, it influences its believers that women are subordinate to men and that femininity is embraced through being docile. This could also be said for Islam, where women in Saudi Arabia have limited rights as the country prohibits them from driving, voting, or having any say in public and political settings — does this sound familiar to what we have learned in class?
From the Koran, a similar scripture could be observed:
Just from the Koran alone (refer to picture above), firstly, we see that women are subordinate to men and that righteous women are obedient (to Allah and men). Secondly, those who are rebellious have been warn that they would be beaten (probably by men).
With this, we could say that women committed in and influenced by these religious practices are seen as inferior and subordinate to men in their culture. Thus, femininity within these religious practices is shown through being weak, submissive and subservient to their male counterparts and having no or little say in society. Yet, as of 2015, things changed for the women in Saudi Arabia, as they would be allowed to vote according to Buchanan on BBC news.
While this might be a positive execution for empowering women, many conservative Saudi women surprisingly, do not support the loosening of traditional gender roles and limitations, on the grounds that Saudi Arabia is the closest and most "ideal and pure Islamic nation” Consequently, despite the empowering news, many would still prefer to be subordinate to their male counterparts.
Regardless, our group have found scriptures in the Koran that advocates gender equality — both intrinsically and extrinsically.
“O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward God in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bear you)” (Koran 4:1)
Similarly, in the New Testament of the Bible, there was a change in how women are to be perceived. They were no longer subordinate to men, but of equal status; the Bible quotes:
“There is no male nor female, for you are all ONE in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)
This scripture instructs for both men and women to have mutual care and respect for each other. Moreover, during the period of the Protestant Reform, women were encouraged to impose themselves in society, whereby the mother (women) had the same responsibilities as the father (men) in this period.
These variants of Christianity are influenced by the New Testament of the Bible; through this scripture, femininity is shown by women taking on more roles in political and economic world and having a say in decision-making, rather than just being the “homemaker” or subordinate to men.
In conclusion, we definitely agree that religion does affect femininity and how it should be portrayed in society. As Mason (2010) puts it, over millennia, religions have often defined women’s lives; whether they hold a powerful position in society or are being devalued and subversive to their male counterparts — religion plays an important part in influencing women’s oppressions as well as their advances.
However, we do have our critiques on this — because religious beliefs are based on an individual’s or a leader’s interpretation, this results in different variants of the same religion.
Despite being under the same religious umbrella (Christian or Islam), and sharing one Bible or one Koran, we noticed that the same words could be interpreted differently depending on their sects of religion. With this, we feel that anyone with enough influential power (be it pastor, or imam) could influence a group, community or a country of people to believe what that individual beliefs in… even if the intended message was decoded wrongly.