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Feminism and Religion

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Submitted By Jesscampbellmay
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Evaluate feminist views on the role of religion in society today. [33 marks]

Feminism is a structural theory that takes a conflict view upon society. They view religion as a socially constructed institution in society that promotes patriarchy and is a tool used by men to oppress women. Feminism point out that religion is founded upon male-values, and use the example of Mary Magdalen’s unknown marriage to Jesus as a key point. However, some may point out that Feminist views on religion are outdated as religion today is less prevalent and no longer holds these patriarchal values as they previously have, and if there are any left, they are quickly disappearing.

Firstly, a strength of Feminist views on religion is that they have recognised and criticised the inequality that is prevalent in religious organisations. They point out that women are not allowed access to the upper positions in the religious hierarchy in many of the traditional religions. For example, Orthodox Judaism and Catholicism forbid women to become priests. Karen Armstrong says to this that ‘the exclusion of women from the priesthood as evidence of their marginalisation’. On the other hand, the Church of England allowed for female vicars in 1994, and more recently in 2014/5, allowed for female bishops, with Libby Lane being the first. In addition, on the 12th January 2016, New Jersey Synagogue announced that they had hired the first female Orthodox Rabbi. However, one could point out that although women can today become bishops, they are still restricted from becoming archbishops, hence demonstrating that there is still a ‘glass ceiling’ for women in terms of religious significance. El Sadawi would suggest however that religion itself isn’t oppressive and patriarchal, but that it is the male dominating control over it that is causing the problem. Today, although it is clear there is still an...

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