Point 1) Religion Constructs (and Constrains Gender)

Every religion constructs gender in their unique way.  According to the text, “Religions speak to the relationships between men and women, and to how to be a good man and a good woman, and rarely are the ways to goodness the same, even though most major religions speak to spiritual equality” (DeFrancisco and Palczewski 224).  I really enjoyed the example of the letter written by Joseph Ratzinger.  The letter defined how religion constructs and constrains gender.  It offered the specific roles of men and women in religion.  Yet, it placed a woman in a category of a mother and a virgin.  This read was not as exciting as other section examples were so I decided to do a little research on my own that I’ve doing throughout the semester.  The example I am using involves individuals in Protestant and Roman Catholic.  Protestants argued that their religion was superior to Roman Catholics because it treated women with much more class and respect.  The Protestant’s reasoning was the Catholics exaltation of virginity contained a simultaneous denigration of the woman as mother and wife.  Additionally, Protestants criticized Catholics because the Catholic faith celebrated the idea of celibacy.  Protestants believed that celibacy was an unnatural act which lead to greater sins.  Does communication and religion benefit or not benefit women in different societies?

Point 2) Rereading the History of Women Religious

In most religions, one would think that the men have the overbearing power amongst the women.  Women can be seen in a lower stature in some ways, but they have a key, central role they play in religion.  Most males who are dominant, ruthless, and overpowering referred to women as having limited roles such as wives, slaves, or mothers taking care of important men and their children.  If you can believe it, this point was brought out in The Bible!  The men are wrong because women do have a more central role in the establishment of religion.  The text offers that, “The Bible is not sexist but that society’s sexism has led to interpretations of the Bible that are sexist insofar as they ignore women’s presence” (DeFrancisco and Palczewski 226).  The Bible might lay at points that undermine women and strengthen men, but society is to blame for this.  Society in the past and today has endured many types and examples of sexism and inequality towards women.  Women are ingored not only in religion, but in many other institutions as well.  Will society be able to reverse this trend and be able to see women for who they are?

Point 3) Religion Constructs Masculinity

Men can be referred to as strength and dominance in many institutions, but they are straight up defined that way in the institution of religion.  Men have introduced themselves as a muscular force of religion because they feared of their instabilities.  A masculine form of religion took its toll because someone needed to step up and take control.  This control started in the mid 1800’s as various women were working and the United States was industrializing.  In the post Civil War era, a change was needed in religion.  Many people can remember in their history class about the Reconstruction Movement that took place.  I wonder if religion played any role during Reconstruction?  Because it took many years to fix what we had in the United States after the Civil War.

But enough of history already!  I want to discuss examples of masculinity and an example that differ from it.  I am a well-rounded, however, not so religious man from New York, and New York is the home for many Jewish people.  Even though I am not very religious, I still attend service for Jewish traditions and holidays.  As far as traditions, everyone must know about bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs.  If there was such a masculinity in religion, then wouldn’t there only be bar mitzvahs for the boys to become men?  This example might not be in the correct realm of what we are discussing, but it was just something I had thought about.  However, I do have two examples that display masculinity.  First, on the concept of bar and bat mitzvahs again, I do not see many women who step up to the podium and speak the religion as they would need to for their son or daughter.  It is mainly men who speak to emphasize the celebration and the religion.  Second, there are not many women that use religion in their line of work.  Predominantly men control religion as apart of their line of work.  A title that could be recognized is a priest.  Around the world, less than ten percent of women serve the churches’ clergy.  But again listen to this role women are taking, not only in religion but in all institutions.  In the year 2025, it is estimated that there will be as many women priests as men priests!

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