Should Feminists be Anti-Religion? No.

A bit of disclosure first: I am a white male academic. I don’t have to deal with the problems that women have to face. However, I am a feminist. I think that women are just as capable as men in all aspects of life and since I have daughters the idea of someone discriminating against them due to gender has become more and more repugnant the older they grow.

When I first thought about this question I thought that the obvious answer was yes. Religion has oppressed women for millennia, forcing them into subservient positions and in modern society they prevent women from accessing vital healthcare, contraception, dictate clothes, and in some societies they still practice female genital mutilation. I think that feminists should be against these parts of religion, but surely feminism is about empowering women to obtain everything they want and to live on equal footing with men. So in that respect I have to say that feminists shouldn’t be working to destroy religion but like everything else in society they should be working to reform religion. The Catholic Church flat out refuses to ordain women priests, the Anglican Church almost had a major schism over female bishops, and Islam’s unfairness to women is too long to list here. But what about the woman that wants to be a priest in her order? Shouldn’t she have the ability to train as a priest and tend to the flock? I certainly think so. What about the woman that wants to be Pope or Archbishop of Canterbury? She should also have the chance to rise through the ranks just as a man would and have the chance to equally compete for the top spot in their sect.

I had to change my position, while I think people would be better off without religion, I can’t recommend that feminists be anti-religion in the same way that they shouldn’t be anti-jobs or anti-society. In my opinion they should be working to reform the churches just as they work to reform the rest of society. Just like a woman should be supported if she wants to be a mother and homemaker, she should be supported if she wants to be a priest or raise in power and responsibility the order of her faith.

I look forward to the first woman Pope.

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3 comments

  1. Just as there are problems in societal views towards women, there are problems in religion, so why ignore them? I agree, women should be able to reform or reconstruct their religion. I look forward to seeing the first female Pope, especially if her administration is over a reformed Catholic Church.

  2. It would be an interesting achievement to observe, indeed. The reason why it couldn’t do what it should, though, is because a female pope would simply be sanctioning the biblical doctrines that subordinate women. The only way religion can function to give women what they deserve, is to have its texts rewritten to adapt to how we understand society in the modern age.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post and like yourself, I am very much for women’s rights. I can definitely understand women being anti-religion considering how badly the Bible speaks of them. Although I can definitely understand your thoughts on women working to reform the church, I see this being an almost impossible task considering the use of the Bible to set the standards for the church. I feel the only way that women will ever reform the church would be to move the church away from the Holy Bible and i can’t see the church being willing to cooperate in this.
    http://noreligionrequired.wordpress.com

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