Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Religious Patriarchy and Religious Misogeny

Patriarchy is the systematic domination of women by men [01]. Religious patriarchy is the systematic exclusion of women from roles of religious authority, often based on the presupposition that God is male. Genesis 3:16 may be a reference to the origin of this social and religious disorder, but the fact is that the patriarchal mindset is shared by most religious traditions, including Judaism, Hinduisim, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, to mention just a few. Religious patriarchy is an enormous obstacle to cross-gender solidarity. It should be noted that patriarchy takes shape in the structure of religious institutions, and current practices may or may not be essential to the origins of some religious traditions. A significant amount of scholarly research on this issue is currently underway. A broad consensus is already emerging [01] that patriarchal religious structures are not an expression of divine law; rather, they are the result of historical events driven by human decisions.

Misogyny is an exaggerated pathological aversion towards women [02]. Religious misogyny is a byproduct of religious patriarchy. The masculinization of God, and the exclusion of women from roles of religious authority, lead to a mindset whereby men are God-like, women are not God-like, and therefore men are superior to women. Religious misogyny is a most perplexing phenomenon in human history and, in particular, in the history of most religious traditions. It may be the most harmful kind of misogyny to both men and women, specially at the psychological and spiritual levels [03]. It destroys cross-gender solidarity, thereby inflicting deep wounds on all other forms of human solidarity. It is pervasive in both religion and society. It is, to be sure, the deepest wound common to humankind. When male-female solidarity is broken, the resulting wounds are not only between people but within people. When the "unity in diversity" between men and women is broken, human behavior cannot be wholesome, and all human relations are broken.

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