Women’s rights and religion have long been in battle, and it’s not just one religion, sect, or group that has the market on misogyny cornered. In the particular heritage I come from, this has become some what of a landmark issue; a matter of salvation, as it were. By the majority of the people in this sect, it is not believed to be allowed by God for a woman to take precedent over a man (as God is the head of man, and man is the head of woman). This can be done to a variety of differing degrees: no public positions, women not being allowed to speak in group settings, and/or woman having no particular say in the ultimate decisions of the church.
While I may believe this ideology to be harmful and an unbalanced perspective on how we have taken holy texts and proofed them into our, or our ancestors, traditions…it is the right of the religious people to practice as they wish; whether that’s handling snakes or suppressing women, I don’t have much to say on the issue unless I practice that religion.
I went to a small Christian college and at this school the Bible majors all had to take a class called “Preparation and Delivery of Sermons”, males only. There was a female counterpart to it called “Message Design and Delivery, for Women”. I took the class. I didn’t have dreams of being a women’s day speaker (the only way to actually use this class), but I enjoyed the idea of being able to form deep thoughts in a coherent way for others to understand. I don’t know that it was all that more shallow than the men’s version, but it was like wadding in a puddle. It pains me to think of how much time and money went into that class.
The societal fall out is what worries me about this philosophy. While the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical equality of men and women was preached about, it was almost nearly always followed by a ‘separate but equal’ speech. And when the majority tells the minority that they are separate but still equal, it is invalid. Equality cannot contain separation….it just can’t.
I have seen intelligent, powerful women spend months studying comentaries/essays about spiritual makeovers and becoming the woman God has designed you to be…but I have never see a group of women study the nitty gritty of Paul’s work, to openly discuss doubt, or delve into the viciousness of God in the Old Testament. Oh, I’ve seen these women have conversations about those things, but only when it was lead by a man. The thing that worries me isn’t that some religions are suprressing women, but that it is universially lowering the bar.
Perhaps, even the sub-sequential fall out of the lowering of the bar is worse than that. I truly believe that I am, or at least have misogynistic tendencies. And while I try my hardest to overcome them, I realize that it’s not the overt, implicit sermons I’ve heard over the years, or even scriptures being used to back it up, but the fact that most of my life, I’ve never been expected (or allowed) to reach past that bar that has influenced my opinion of women, and naturally, myself.