Evaluate feminist views on the roles and functions of religion in society today
Feminists believe that religion in society today keeps patriarchy going and is there to reflect and perpetuate gender inequality. The functions of religion help legitimize female subordination by acting as a patriarchal ideology, by stating it is God’ will. This can be seen through the people who are in positions of power in religious institutions such as the Church of England, and the Catholic Church where most positions of power are held by men e.g. the pope – part of the Catholic Church. However, there are feminists that believe women have not always been subordinate to men in religion. Women can use religion to empower themselves such as Muslim women wearing the Hijab. In addition Armstrong argues that early religions placed women at the center e.g. goddesses.
Feminists see religion as patriarchal as it reinforces and reflects traditional gender based roles such as women being carers and mothers and to legitimize female subordination by stating that it is God’s will. For instance within Islam, it is written in the Quran that ‘men are the protectors & maintainers of women because Allah has made one of them to excel the other.’ Feminists would argue that this example shows how women are forced to be in the expressive role as the men are religiously promoted as the breadwinners in the instrumental role. However functionalists would criticize feminists, by saying that religious institutions should promote traditional gender roles because they are biologically based and bound to occur. However it could be argued that they are a good thing because it is what we are biologically suited to.
The other ways in which feminists see religion as being patriarchal can be shown through their ideas on sacred texts. As most religious stories and accounts of events have been written and interpreted by men. When women are portrayed in religious texts they often reflect traditional gender...
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