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Bad Feminism

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Joan Manlangit
ENG-102-15
Professor Lena Valencia
Research Paper Draft 1 The Religious Feminist

There is undeniable doubt that there is a sense of inequality towards women in terms of religion. The purpose of this research paper is to discover and understand feminist views on religion, as well as define the term “religious feminist.” In my findings, I have yet to conclude whether being a feminist and being a full devote, faithful follower to a religion can coexist. Although, when researching on the topic of “religion and feminism,” sites such as religionandfeminism.com are full of commentators and scholars who believe otherwise: that there can be such a thing as the religious feminist. However, it seems as though equality within religion is a never-ending battle. Author of Bad Feminist: Take One/ Take Two, Roxanne Gay, describes her favorite definition of feminism as “just women who don’t want to be treated like shit.” (303). Like others, Gay feels as if she falls short of what a true feminist is. The online dictionary describes a feminist as one who advocates social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. So what does it mean when one claims to be a “bad” feminist? Gay goes on in her excerpt about how some feminist public speakers often contradict themselves when advocating the ideal feminist. Does being a religious feminist mean you are a contradictory? In Kristin Aune’s Why Feminists Are Less Religious, she tries to examine the possibility of feminism leading to women rejecting traditional religion. Aune and her colleague, Catherine Redfern, surveyed nearly 1,300 British feminists in order to find out who the feminists were, what inspired them to engage with feminism, what issues they were concerned about, and etc. One of their questions was: “Please describe your religious or spiritual views (including none/atheist/agnostic).” One in ten identified themselves with a major world religion, mostly Christianity, half said they were either atheist or had no religion, one in six was agnostic, one in twelve considered themselves spiritual but not religious. Results show, when compared with the general female population, that feminists are more likely to be interested in an alternative form of spirituality. Additional, feminists in Aune’s and Redfern’s survey claimed to not be heterosexual. Many religious organizations condemn homosexuality, which makes it more unlikely for gay or bisexual feminists to be religious. Some refer to the term “feminism” as just another word for equality. On the contrary, it is difficult to find equality amongst men and women in terms of religion. In most organized religions, there is patriarchy. Webster’s dictionary describes patriarchy as a family, group, or government controlled by a man or group of men. In Christianity, church services are lead by priests or pastors, whom are male and can only be male. Other Christian officials, with the exception of nuns, which are seen to have less authority, are all males; ie: bishops and popes. For years, women have fought to bring attention women’s leadership in religion. In Women Pastors: What Does the Bible Teach? By Richard R. Melick, Jr., he brings to attention some texts from the Bible concerning equality between men and women. “While the Bible does not support the practice of women serving as pastors, numerous passages speak clearly and forcibly to inherit the worth and value of women.” In the fifth book of the New Testament, known as Acts or the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostle Paul writes of sixteen significant helpers in ministry, ten of which were women. The Pastoral Epistles in the New Testament, in which discusses issues of Christian living, doctrine and leadership, Paul the Apostle states “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be silent.” Therefore, although proven to have some influence on the writings of scriptures, according to the teachings and guidance of the Apostle Paul in regards to patriarchy, women are exempt. Self-proclaimed Muslim feminist scholar, Aysha A. Hidayatullah, tries to shed light on the ideas of male-female equality within the texts of the Qur’an. (Hidayatullah 2014). However in her studies, Hidayatullah “noticed a lack of clarity in many of the works regarding the concept of equality.” Hidayatullah insists in her excerpt, Feminist Interpretation of the Qur’an in a Comparative Feminist Setting, that all male-female inequality was attributed to faulty human interpretation, due to the belief that male-female equality is divinely ordained.
Hidayatullah argues that the “text itself does not fully support our contemporary demands for gender equality.” Summarizing verses commonly confronted by other feminist scholars, Hidayatullah divides verses regarding male-female relations into two broad categories: “mutuality” verses and “hierarchy” verses. In short, the mutuality verses describe humans as being created from the same soul, meaning we are all created equal. However, the hierarchy verses describe gender dominance; for example verse 2:223, which instructs men to approach their wives sexually as they wish. In addition, Hidayatullah and other feminist interpreters of the Qur’an argue that the inequality verses within it were contingent. And therefore, applied only to specific historical contexts, in which the verses were describing rather than prescribing practices and views in seventh-century Arabia. In my findings, organized religions have many similarities, in which involve the idea that God created all equal, but emphasizes male authority. Throughout history, male authority has shined, whilst women of history have been put on the back burner, possibly never to be heard from. Thanks to modern technology, the birth of online feminism has aided in the works of many so-called religious feminist. Although the idea of disregarding certain texts is considered “sinful,” many feminist scholars try to interpret the reasons as to why inequality and equality coexist in religious scriptures.…...

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