Why Religion is Anti-Women

Martin S Pribble is my guest today. He is an Australian atheist- feminist. He has written this post for my respected readers. I hope you would like his opinions.

‘I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that I am an atheist. All this means that I hold no belief in God or gods. I could be called an “anti-theist” because of my distaste for organised religions and the harm caused by them. I am also an “a-superstitionist”, a humanist, an environmentalist, and a male feminist. These are all separate to my atheism, but the edges of these “ists” cross over in several areas.

For instance, my dismissal of superstition crosses over into my atheism in the fact that religions are built upon a bed of superstitions, and all superstitions are equally false. Humanism and atheism cross over in areas where atrocities against people are bolstered by religious dogma and doctrine, or where religions are used as an excuse to kill and torture people. Environmentalism and atheism cross paths where dominionist groups such as The Cornwall Alliance use their belief in god to justify the pillaging of the earth’s remaining resources, all because the Bible says that it’s OK to do so.

But the biggest crossover occurs between atheism, Anti-theism and feminism. This is because most religions hold women to be second-class, and some even go so far as to blame women for all the evils in the world. Particularly in the Abrahamic religions, the ones I am most familiar with, women are blamed for the “fall of man” in the garden of Eden in the genesis chapters of the Old Testament, and it’s all downhill from there.

Throughout these holy books, women are mere secondary players in their versions of the origins of humankind, with all the “good” and “big” things being played out by men. With the exception of Mary, who was a mere receptacle for the unborn Christ, no other women are attributed with doing anything “good” in these stories. In fact one could say that women are often blamed for such things as seduction and “leading men astray” with their evil feminine prowess.

This is all back-story, however, and matters little in today’s world, unless you try to figure out why women are treated badly when under the control of a religious society. What matter is what is happening now, in the name of religion, and in the name of culture, that hinders the rights and positions of women.

Under the guise of religion, attempts are being made to control the reproductive rights of women, claiming that since god put a soul in a woman’s womb, that it’s god’s will that a baby be born. Under the guise of religion, women are expected to shave their heads and wear a wig, because their real hair is seen as evil or “a temptation”. Under the guise of religion, girls as young as nine are forced into arranged marriage, using the example of Mohammed and Aisha as justification. Under the guise of religion, women are denied the right to become a religious leader, and in some cases, are not even allowed into a place of worship.

In all of these examples, religion is used as an excuse, or a reason, for the subjugation of women. Yet in most cases the religions that people use to justify them make no mention of these practices directly, either in a ritualistic sense, or in an allegorical sense. In fact, what we see is the translations of ancient texts into whatever language the people within a society speak, then at the behest of the men in charge of the region, cultural practices are inflated out of these ideas. And this is not something that happened by chance, it happened by design.

Culture then holds onto these practices to keep them alive. This makes some kind of sense, for men are the ones in power, and it is in their interest to keep all people in a state of powerlessness. So by instantly discounting 50% of the population, half the job is already done, and it just leaves the men to get on with whatever business is at hand. If ever challenged on these practices, all a man need do is point at the holy book and threaten, not only from their own man-made power structure, but from the powers of the almighty god. Women are to be subordinate. The Bible says so.

The point here is not whether the old books explicitly state that women are to be treated as second-class citizens. The point is that the religions are used as a justification for such acts, and that women bear the brunt of these interpretations of the holy books. When Pat Robertson spins hatred toward women, he does so with the apparent authority of God (tornadoes). When the mullah shows disapproval at the baring of women’s breasts, he does so under the name of Allah (earthquakes). When an Islamic man beats his wife, he justifies it using Sura 4:34, which allows this practice.

As a man, I can’t tell you how it feels to be the one discriminated against in the name of religion, for I will never know that. Neither can I tell you what it feels like to have the whole religious card-deck stacked up against you. What I can tell you is that I recognise it is wrong, and that I can do something about this. The systematic deconstruction of the anti-women tenets of religion is needed, and from this standpoint, we can then work toward destroying the cultural practices that use religion to justify their existences.

The humanist in me says that this idea goes for any and all practices that hold down men and women, and I know this is like trying to put out a wildfire with a water-pistol, but I feel starting with 50% agenda (i.e. that of women) is a better place to start than any other. This is because the anti-women rhetoric appears not only in the context of religion, but also in everyday society. If a practice impinged upon man and women both it would be much more likely to be addressed.

What we see here, and one of the main reasons why I am against organised religion, is the justification of age-old practices in a time when we know better. Not saying that the practices were ever right; they weren’t. However at the times of the writings of these holy books, there was no recourse for women. Now, we have the power, the numbers, the information, and the means to show that bronze-age patriarchal practices hold no place in modern society. This is the hangover from a time when religion held power, when the word of the priest was more important that the word of the scholar.’