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How CAN you be religious if you are a feminist?

(227 Posts)

Given that misyogyny is absolutely inherent in Christianity, Islam and the rest (even when they try to dress it up as saying they 'revere' women and women are 'special' it;s still about women being defined by men as not quite human), how can a woman follow any of these myth systems without accepting that she's less than fully human and her imaginary friend thinks so too, otherwise why wouldn't it have smashed the patriarchy already?

blush

Oops. I didn't see.

Maybe she'll post again.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 06-Mar-13 23:46:55

It was quite cool having Olivia as the last poster on half the FWR front page for a bit!

grin

Fair enough. I'll trawl through tomorrow ... I was wondering how the heck I missed this!

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Mar-13 22:57:21

Hi olivia - can I ask why you bumped? I don't mean that in a curmudgeonly way, just curious and since your HQ I figure you have a good reason! grin

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Mar-13 18:17:47

bump

NameWithDrawn22 Mon 04-Mar-13 13:16:40

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Pogleswood Mon 05-Apr-10 15:18:08

Deborah (Judges 4&5)
"Deborah,a prophetess,the wife of Lappidoth,was leading Israel at that time." (New International Bible)
And it goes on to describe how Barak the King will not go to war without her,and then to become the story of Jael,who killed Sisera with a tent peg (does that count as being marked by her relationship to men??)

There is also at least one female prophet I think but cannot remember where - she is described,as is Deborah,as being someone's wife,but that isn't why she has the role she has.

dittany Mon 05-Apr-10 13:07:15

Esther was in the King's harem. Her actions related to her relationship to him, although she does sound like a stand-up woman.

Doesn't sound like Naomi or Ruth fitted in to what I described either.

chibi Mon 05-Apr-10 12:56:10

I am probably wrong, but maybe Esther?

Possibly also the relationship between Naomi and Ruth?

My old testament knowledge is v shaky, happy to be corrected.

dittany Mon 05-Apr-10 12:50:39

Is there a single woman in the bible who isn't marked by her sexuality or her relationship to men - as a whore, or a wife or a mother, or the product of a chap's rib-cage?

Are there any female leaders whatsoever? Or wise women who stand alone? Are any of these given the admiration they deserve?

dittany Mon 05-Apr-10 12:40:31

I dislike the idea that religious people are the only "good" people, an idea that has been promulgated from the church for centuries. Everybody else is going to hell. On the other hand if you've got god on your side it's OK to go to war against Iraq.

I find it quite obnoxious the idea that you can only have conscience if you believe in god. What happened to internal moral compasses? If you need god and a set of rules to tell you how to behave like a decent person then you're probably a sociopath.

Nooka, I'll always remember meeting some christian neighbours for the first time, and the very first thing the wife telling me was that the 15 year old girl living on the other side of us was a prostitute. I know it's not fair to judge a religion on one person (although she was obviously following the age old christian idea of women as virgins or whores) but I thought that if that's what christianity does to a person they can stick it.

nooka Mon 05-Apr-10 02:03:05

I have to admit my experience of those who have had religious experiences is that they have become if anything more closed minded. I can see that faith is incredibly important to some of my friends and family, but from the outside looking in it doesn't feel like something to aspire to. I was brought up Catholic and feel no wish to return to my roots. I feel that it is perfectly possible to be open to the wonderfulness of the world and (in general) other people without the straitjacket of a religion telling me what to think,feel or do, and part of that is the ability to celebrate being me without ever feeling that I am a second class citizen in anyone's eye, let alone a powerful all-seeing god, who just happens to not think very much of me because I am a woman (especially given that he supposedly created me). But of course that's just my view!

SpeedyGonzalez Sun 04-Apr-10 18:00:37

nooka, I agree. I was discussing today with DH how I just don't get the concept of misogyny, and why it's dominated so much of human life for so long - he heard the second episode of Banishing Eve (damn! I missed it - goes to show who has more time to themselves in our household wink), which further emphasised this point about how the Church in particular started out as a totally egalitarian organisation and then for whatever reasons succumbed to the culture of misogyny which was pervasive throughout the rest of human life - and how this has only really been challenged in the last, I don't know, maybe 50 years? Less?

In my opinion and experience, faith and religion operate both within and beyond the normal realms of human experience. It is both ordinary and extraordinary. Sadly, misogyny is not the only aspect of life in which the ordinary (i.e. human) has often (but not always) held more sway over the extraordinary (i.e. superhuman), and from my experience and knowledge of my faith, I would say this is actually a very deep issue connected with our free will to choose to live as we wish. We have free will to accept or reject faith, and we also have free will to choose how to live within whatever faith we choose.

I have seen and heard stories of people's lives being transformed in extraordinary ways because of their openness to transformation through their faith. I have also seen and heard stories of people keeping themselves tightly closed off from any potential for this transformation, and surprise, surprise, they don't change and they keep all their old prejudices/ hang-ups/ whatever. Hence misogyny and the seemingly endless other crap that damages people and destroys the image of all religions.

I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface with this explanation - being human is such a complex thing, even before you start to examine the possibility of a spiritual life.

As for your questions about the Bible, I would love to be able to give you a full answer. This thread has brought up lots of life issues which I would love to learn more about and plan to do so as the years go on. So at the moment the questions you've raised about the Bible are still questions for me...maybe we should have this chat again in about 10 years' time when I've hopefully advanced in my understanding?!

nooka Sun 04-Apr-10 07:06:53

Speedy I think that if faith and religion are a purely human construct (which is my my personal understanding) then it is of course fine to say that everything else is male dominated so hardly surprising that religion/faith is too. But if faith is superhuman (in an outside our understanding type meaning) then it should do better than that. I have no problem with the idea of the Bible as a historical document - it's a very interesting document with a fascinating history behind it. But as a guide to life from all all-caring God to his people I find it highly problematic, and really I guess I think that God could and should have done better. Of course people are highly fallible and much could be lost in the translation, but then why bother to say that the Bible is special or that it contains anything approaching the truth?

dittany Sat 03-Apr-10 22:32:25

You know I'm going to carry on asking you to back off until you actually do Speedy. You could have decided to agree to my last request and done exactly that and left me alone, but you have to keep attacking.

You aren't defending yourself from me. You asked me a hostile question which you thought you were justified to do because it was "in kind", then got upset because I called you on the veiled aggression. It turns out you do have negative feelings towards me which you've carried to this thread, I wasn't imagining it. So the next time you feel like having a go, don't be surprised if the person on the receiving end asks you to desist.

Here's some free advice - I avoid people I dislike on Mumsnet.

So once again, please back off.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 03-Apr-10 22:24:58

dittany, I will back off - in fact I had already. You could have chosen to ignore my last post, but instead appear to be trying to incite a row here which I for one don't want to have. I am therefore quite entitled to defend myself. You are either imagining a 'peculiar hostility towards you' or trying to magic it in order to make me look unpleasant. How sad. I certainly don't feel any hostility towards you, only pity.

As I've said before, I'm not the first MNer to observe this manipulative style in your posts; I've seen other posters have discussions with you which have taken a similar trajectory. And those discussions have ended as this one is about to: let's not ever have a conversation on MN again.

dittany Sat 03-Apr-10 22:09:50

Please back off Speedy. Your hostility towards me is peculiar and you obviously brought it to this thread.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 03-Apr-10 22:02:56

inveterate - the reason I told dittany that I find her posts manipulative is because while she's perfectly happy to pose probing, personal questions to others, when I did the same to her - in kind - she refused to answer them and accused me of being 'aggressive'. I find that manipulative.

There are many reasons I rejected the Baptist faith that I grew up in but one of the biggest problems for me was the inequality between men and women. My daughter had started asking about religion and I couldn't bear for her to grow up being told that she should be subserviant to a man.
This is why I started looking into Quakerism and have since started attending meetings.

The Quakers believe that all people are equal regardless of Sex, age or race.

inveteratenamechanger Sat 03-Apr-10 19:54:45

Speedy, you wrote to dittany:

"tbh I find the way you're posting - both here and on other threads - quite manipulative. I'm not the first person on MN to tell you this: you come across as someone who's playing games all the time, which is not what I'm here for at all."

Dittany replied:
"Speedy you're missing my point and you're getting quite nasty now. Please back off."

I wouldn't call that an overreaction - just a response in kind.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 03-Apr-10 16:31:12

Wow, dittany. What an excessive reaction. That's a perfect example of what I was saying.

Clarissimo - yes, what you said about the role of women in the church being eventually taken over by men is exactly what the experts in that Banishing Eve programme were saying. As for the other bits of the Bible which you described as 'double-think', these are aspects which I've always had a problem with, too, as have many believers over the centuries. There are so many problematic/ difficult things written in the Bible, and for me it's not enough to just take them at face value - either by saying 'oh well' and pretend they're not there; or by trying to find a way to make them acceptable; or to assume they can be read and understood with 21st century eyes. This is one of the reasons why I think it's dangerous to take the whole thing literally - for example some parts of the Bible are poetry; some are analogy; some are historical records/ letters - both written from a particular person's viewpoint; and some have a completely different function for which we have no real equivalent in modern Western culture.

I have been thinking about this whole question of women's roles in religions and women's roles in history full-stop. It seems to me that every aspect of life (in Western culture, at least) has largely been characterised by men dominating and pushing women out: in family life, academia, medicine, politics, farming, business, industry, the arts - even pregnancy and childbirth, where many of us on MN know that the traditional role of midwives was (and still is, in countries such as the USA) usurped by the male-brained (or just male) approach which led to women's bodies being controlled and unnecessarily damaged.

Yet women are now making admirable moves to reclaim their position in the world and, however slowly the pace might feel, are regaining our rightful position of equality. To my mind this is no different from what has happened within my religion (I don't know enough about how it's worked within other religions) and although the area of faith is one aspect of life where this historical domination shouldn't have happened, we can see that the pattern of domination has been much the same as in other areas of life. I wholeheartedly welcome the way that women are reclaiming our rights to equality, and whether it's within religion, medicine, politics, the family or any other area of life, I think we do better for ourselves by continuing to take back what has always rightfully been ours.

antoinettechigur Sat 03-Apr-10 15:04:30

I haven't read the whole thread (which I find an irritating thing in other posters, so please excuse me).

Has anyone mentioned Quakers or Unitarians? Quakers have their roots in Christianity but don't view the bible as a literal text or guide to life. One of their central tenants is equality, there aren't even any clergy etc and there are no prescribed beliefs. Perhaps the holyish grail of a feminist religious group?

Earthymama Sat 03-Apr-10 00:14:46

I'm hoping that all of you who are Christians are busy with Easter services/activities and the others busy with family things and that I didn't kill the thread sad blush

Earthymama Thu 01-Apr-10 10:58:39

Have been away having sinusitis and moaning quietly about it!!

I know nothing about your debates about Christianity, I didn't realise at first that this thread was about how women can be practising Christians and feminists or I wouldn't have posted. I'm not objecting, just acknowledging that is not about 'spirituality' but Abrahamic religions.

Re the Pagan Christian, I only met the guy fleetingly; he seemed genuinely to revere his Christ and the Earth, the Elements etc. something I don't think main-stream Christianity does very well, in my limited experience.

I hope you can achieve some consensus, as it says on a feminism thread,

"This thread is great because there are so many different types of feminists on here and however we decide to do it, we're all striving to battle against sexism and misogyny"

Hopefully, you are all the same about your faiths,

'Many Paths, One Source'

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