• Poonam Dutta (Satyamshakti)

Is religion the tool for driving patriarchy?

Trust me, I am not just another feminazi talking about female superiority. I am someone who wants to bring the unabashed truth of how organized religion has time and again put one gender at a critically disadvantaged position over that of men.

Since the dawn of any organized religion, women have been relegated to the status of the weaker sex, confined to home and hearth, exploited in the sex trade and more. The majority of the old civilizations were heavily influenced by patriarchy and the role of organized religion in constructing these societies is undeniable.

The Islamic religion, for example, is the second-largest organized religion in the world. It originated in the middle eastern country of Saudi Arabia with its center at Mecca and Madinah. Patriarchy is deep rooting in the religion and the result of it, sometimes is horrendous. For example, the Islamic leader Prophet Mohammed the messenger of God had 13 wives and none of them could divorce him. This was because the right to instantaneous and unilateral divorce is enjoyed only by men. Let alone so many gender-biased traditions face by Muslim women including not being allowed in the mosques and more.

Next, we look at one of the oldest religious scripture Genesis 3:16 in which God told Eve that ‘…the husband will rule over you. When you study the genesis carefully, it reveals that male psychology attributes human frailty as feminine or women only.

Eve the mother of humanity, acted on her own accord, sinned and took Adam down with her into the Original Sin. What humans understood from this is that a woman acting on her own accord without her male counterpart is likely to be vulnerable to egregious and erroneous behavior. Behind a sinful man is a sinful woman who must have egged him into conducting the sinful act. This normalized imperfection of women so perfectly penned by Shakespeare as "Frailty, thy name is woman"

Largely following the rules of dharma and many rules of living life as per the Vedas, the practice of Sati is a huge stigma on the Hindu religion. The now-banned practice of self-immolation of widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands was an act of imitation epitomized by Goddess Sati who burned herself as she was not able to bear that her father insulted her husband, Lord Shiva. Sati was practiced in mostly the rich Hindu household because it glorified the notion of a good wife who was alive only for her husband.

There two major problems in this scenario

  1. Lord Shiva, a god is allowing this inhumane act and nobody seems to be objecting to this.

  2. Sati was first made a criminal offense in 1829 by the British Governor-General of India Lord William Bentinck. Of all the people in the world, it took an English man to say the burning women alive is barbaric and had to make the action punishable by law. Even so, the actual Sati (Prevention) Act was introduced in 1987!

It makes me sick that the followers and makers of organized religion were completely fine with this for thousands of years!

One of the most debated flaws of organized religion is the restrictions imposed by religion on women's bodies in terms of what to wear, lifestyle and most importantly her sexuality.

Almost all religions turn a blind eye to promiscuous behavior from men while demanding ‘sexual exclusivity’ from women. The imposition of hijab, sindoor, and mangalsutra are physical tools introduced by religion to showcase that this woman belongs to a man - either father or husband. This further results in women viewing sexuality as a taboo and not able to fully explore her sexual desires.

The reason given for this demand for sexual exclusivity might vary but the objective of "protecting the sexuality of women" is pretty clear. However, there are two partners in the marriage, why are only women subjected to showcasing their marital status and not the men?

The realization of how deeply the religiously-endorsed patriarchy is engraved in the society even today is startling. Some of the very obvious discrimination in the religious text between men and women is downright laughable. The hijab is supposed to protect women from the male gaze and hence lowering the chances of sexual violence. The not enough objection on men conducting these horrific acts makes me question the need for hijab.

Another thing that surprises and enrages me is that the big bad God in almost all organized religions is always predicted as a man. Religious organizations are dominated by men from the priest, mullas and the pope to the disciples, bhakts, and followers of the prophets- all men. Even the interpretation and tweaking of religious text is conducted by men to suit their men's empowering social agenda. This was the very reason that the role of women was reduced as the weaker or the inferior sex in all- social, economic and spiritual representation.

According to all religions, fulfilling the role of homemaker is the foremost duty of women. This unquestioned and obvious discrimination against an entire gender can only be integrated into the common psyche with the name of God.

Oh and don't even get me started on the whole women being impure while menstruating. Two of the biggest religious organizations in India don't allow women inside the temples or mosques while they are menstruating. Especially in the religion where women are quarantined to a corner in the house for 7 days a month- not allowed to even have meals with their family. The whole taboo behind periods has gone quite a bit because of the media and women openly talking about and accepting it as a natural phenomenon. However, what baffles me is the existence of this stigma in the first place. If religion is not responsible for it, then I don't know what is.

On the other hand, according to the Rigveda, feminine energy is responsible for the creation of the universe. The concept of yin and yang unquestionably confirms that both men and women are created equally, then why are men considered superior to women?

As I said in my letter to all the pseudo propellers of organized religions- religion is the root of all evil in the world. Hence, proven organized religion is also the core reason for women's inequality as well.

Today I invite you and urge you to leave the path of toxic masculinity and embrace the path of true spiritual awakening where masculine and feminine energies empower each other. This can only happen when you heal your subconscious.

Contact me and together we will heal your subconscious and lead you towards true peaceful living.

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