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Assess the view that religion in general has negative consequences for women Free essay! Download now

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Assess the view that religion in general has negative consequences for women

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 1200 | Submitted: 11-May-2008
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The sociological debate surrounding religion and the negative consequences it has for women is highly controversial. There are contrasting views about the role of women within religion. On the one hand it is argued by Marxist feminists such as, Simone De Bevoir (1953) and Bird (1999), that religion is used as an instrument to oppress women.

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The sociological debate surrounding religion and the negative consequences it has for women is highly controversial. There are contrasting views about the role of women within religion. On the one hand it is argued by Marxist feminists such as, Simone De Bevoir (1953) and Bird (1999), that religion is used as an instrument to oppress women. In doing so religion reinforces the negative consequences associated with woman as it portrays them as a distraction that ‘pollute society’ Bird (1999). On the other hand, Holm (1994) and Wallis (1984) look at social change and argue that New Religious Movements have occurred in recent times through which equality between men and woman has been established. This can also be seen by church attendance statistics which are composed of both men and women. Hence it can be suggested that women are in fact getting a positive outcome from religion. It is essential however, to consider both these viewpoints in order to be able to successfully assess the viewpoint that religion in general has negative consequences for women.
In the sociology of religion there are varying interpretations of the role of women. The view that religion has negative consequences for women is conveyed in the study by Simone De Bevoir (1953) who is a Marxist feminist and sees religion as patriarchal and oppressive. She supports the Marxist standpoint and suggests that religion is oppressive and serves to control and compensate the second class status given to woman. Which is similar to Marx’s viewpoint on the polerteriants who believe religion gives women a false belief that they will be compensated for their suffering on earth by equality in heaven. This argument continues to suggest that religion is patriarchal thus; it is inevitable that it will end up having negative consequences for women.
Furthermore, religion often tends to have negative consequences for women as they are perceived as a distraction, Bird (1999) and therefore it is difficult to see how they can have any real impact in religion due to the negative connotations and stigmas attached to them by religion. This view is supported by Turner (1983) who argues that ascetism is encouraged in religion which revolves around the idea of repressing physical pleasure. This practice is most commonly associated with priests who perceive women as a distraction. However, it could be suggested, that it is men themselves that are weak and are unable to control their desires. While one viewpoint argues that women in general have negative consequences in religion. Leila Ahmed (1992) on the other hand, acknowledges that religion can also have positive connotations towards women, however these are all dependant on an individual’s interpretation of what they perceive as being oppressive or liberating for instance the hijab or being a nun can be interpretated as either one.
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