All religions give women a status subordinate to man. Does it mean that women had better status before religion emerged and then religion changed their status OR does it mean that the women had such subordinate status even before religion evolved and religion only perpetuated that status ?
Do all women believe that religion is the reason why they are denied equal status in the society?
Does a religion that have powerful godesses along with gods, give better status to women?
Do religious women willingly and happily accept their religion defined status?
Do atheist women believe that they will enjoy true equality when religions vanish?
That is true Nerd -- I've met Atheists like that too. Some of them treat women as objects and playthings. One of the main reasons I started questioning religion was the sexism. I think I was about 12 or so -- I couldn't understand why god did not make me equal to a man. It started from that and then just snowballed from there -- until there was no belief left.
Certainly not in the 20th and 21st centuries. Just off the top of my head, the more liberal/progressive versions of Judaism and Christianity, as well as Wicca and other neopagan religions, respect women as equals who can be teachers and leaders.
I recommend religioustolerance.org to friends; its reporting gives no free passes to any religion, calling out things like oppression of women and special rights for heterosexuals. From their section, "The status of women throughout history":
Almost all oppressed groups in the world are minorities. Women are a notable exception....
A few centuries ago, the assignment of second class citizenship to women was considered as normal and natural a part of Christianity and many other religions as were human slavery....
Women have achieved impressive advances during the last century, but progress has been uneven across the world. The main impediments to attaining equality have often been a combination of culture and religion. In North America, women have approached near equality in commerce, business, the military, etc. The main hold-outs in North America have been conservative religious denominations....
Essays in this section discuss:
* The radically equal treatment of women by Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) and in the very early Christian movements.
* The rapid decline of women's rights as the primitive Christian movement matured.
* The processes by which Christian denominations change their policies in areas of sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia. There are surprising similarities among these forms of discrimination.
The status of women in a society is connected to whether it's closer to a hierarchical "dominator" model or to an egalitarian "partnership" model. Riane Eisler, who coined these terms, writes in "Spare the Rod" (at Yes! magazine, or reprinted at religioustolerance.org; emphasis added):
Hitler's Germany (a technologically advanced, Western, rightist society), Stalin's USSR (a secular leftist society), fundamentalist Iran (an Eastern religious society), and Idi Amin's Uganda (a tribalist society) were all violent and repressive. There are obvious differences between them. But they all share the core configuration of the domination model. They are characterized by top-down rankings in the family and state or tribe maintained through physical, psychological, and economic control; the rigid ranking of the male half of humanity over the female half; and a high degree of culturally accepted abuse and violence from child- and wife-beating to chronic warfare.
The partnership model, on the other hand, is based on a democratic and egalitarian structure in both family and state or tribe and on equal partnership between women and men. There is little violence, because rigid rankings of domination, which can be maintained only through violence, are not part of the culture. Because women have higher status, stereotypically feminine values [such as nonviolence and caregiving]have social priority.
Where the rights of women and children are protected, nations thrive. In fact, a study of 89 nations... shows that the status of women can be a better predictor of the general quality of life than a nation's financial wealth.
An important lesson from these cultures is this: How a society structures the primary human relations' between the female and male halves of humanity, and between them and their children is central to whether it is violent and inequitable or peaceful and equitable.
This was similar to my thoughts.
More generally: as non-believers i think we are in an especially nice position to recognize that religions come from somewhere. They are not a fixed truth, nor a competing blasphemy, but rather a complex part of the cultures that create and sustain them.
The advantage of our perspective being that we don't need to ask what religion causes or doesn't cause but we can see it for what it really is: a feedbacking component of a society. It is probably more helpful to ask why does a SOCIETY perpetuates sexism/misogyny than to only focus on one part (just the religious) of the big overall picture.
It is probably more helpful to ask why does a SOCIETY perpetuates sexism/misogyny
It is true that the scope of my questions appears to be relatively limited, but if you look at all the questions that I have asked, the scope is wide. I would really like to receive answers for my questions.
I must admit my lack of knowledge of modern religions like Wicca, for example. For us in India, new religions like Wicca are scarcely known and anyway, their effect on women's freedom in the world does appear to be negligible. Modern thinking has had a varying impact on different societies, but my questions, more or less, relate to traditions that have originated in the past and have not died yet.
Your answer, however, is excellent.
Hmm, a few thoughts for consideration:
1. I actually wouldn't be so quick to assume that the larger group would be more dominant.
In just about any human society i've seen, status is based on a LOT of complex factors. Strength can be one determining factor in status, but so can skill (hunting, sewing, herbalism, etc.), ingenuity (creative problem solving -- every generation has its challenges!), knowledge, strategy, etc. And similar to the way we determine our status by abstract oddities like money; other objects like berries, pelts, shells have been known to be prized beyond their direct survival benefit and used to assign status and dominance.
2. If strength WERE a significant factor in determining dominance in pre-civilization, it still wouldn't make sense that men would have such a lions share of dominance as being stated here.
To put it bluntly, there are a fair number of women who could kick either of our asses!
If strength primarily determined dominance, it would make sense that this sizable, steady percentage of strong ass-kicking women would gain similar status.
3. I'm not sure how you define civilization, but in a number of societies that have traditionally been labeled pre-civilized (various indigenous cultures around the world) many women have come forwarded as been appalled by the lack of freedom for women in our post-civilized societies.
I appreciate your remarks, but I also have asked a question about the status of women from the caveman days.
I remember feminist books from the seventies that stated that in the beginning there were female goddesses and human societies were matriarchal, long before the male gods were there and men grabbed the power. But I guess this was wishful thinking - cannot find out as I lost the books.
And about equality for myself - I am anybody´s equal, I know it. That some people think different is their problem, not mine.
Fertility wasn't viewed in the limited Dominator culture way we see it. The power to create was sacred. Creation was the REAL power, as opposed to our elevation of weapons and violence. They saw the ability to make as far more potent than the ability to destroy.
Creation was eclipsed when weapons technologies, such as the sword and horse riding, became more efficient in accumulating wealth than farming/building/producing. Since we've pushed the Earth past it's sustainable limits by taking, taking, taking, Dominator Culture has hit a natural limit. It's now obvious that Dominator Culture was a local maximum, not a global maximum. As I see it only Partnership Culture will make a sustainable future possible.
The book is When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone, and I think it was very well researched for its time. (You can find used copies at eBay's Half.com, and also on Amazon.)
There is ample archaeological evidence besides those neolithic statuettes, which male archaeologists of the early 20th Century decided offhand were fertility symbols, that women were active in business, considered the heads of families, and were as active in all aspects of theior culture as men are today. Inheritance of property was matrilineal.
The goddess was worshipped as The Creatress, the Queen of Heaven.
The Mediterranean area and Anatolia were slowly invaded by tribes from northern Europe and the Caucasus region...proven by different skull types found in later grave sites. The "Northern Invaders" worshipped a male god who lived on a fiery mountaintop (there are cuneiform tablets attesting to this), and systematically, over the centuries, did everything possible to wipe out the goddess religion and female independence of the original peoples of the region.
Moses and the Levite priesthood, with their preposterous "laws," were relative latecomers.
sk8eycat -- I think I've read parts of that book before. I think I might have to buy it on Amazon. thanks for the link
iv seenthose books too and goddess worship was throughout the ancient world