This Post was originally published at Different Truths under my weekly column, Relationship Rationale.
The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions states it bluntly: “The subordination of women to men became widespread in all religions.”
All religions have stated in some or the other way that women are the weaker sections of the society and that it is a man’s responsibility to protect her. Some of the religions also preach that women are the only cause of destruction. It is contradictory at so many levels, how can a weaker section of the society be the reason of destruction?
According to the Christian Bible, wives are expected to be submissive in many ways. They are asked not only to be submissive to their husbands, but the church, their community, and God Islamic laws and cultural customs influence various stages of a Muslim women’s life, including her education, employment opportunities, rights to inheritance, dress, the age of marriage, freedom to consent to marriage.
In ancient India, women occupied a very important position, in fact, a superior position to, men. It is a culture whose only words for strength and power are feminine –“Shakti” means “power” and “strength.” All male power comes from the feminine.
Hinduism is known to be a male dominated religion, meaning women take a backseat. Men have more duties within the community and to his family where women are more of a supportive element to the relationship.
According to Sikhism, men and women are two sides of the same coin of the human.
There have been researches done on all religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Islam, and native indigenous religions – they preach the same beliefs on a base level. There is a reward for good deed and punishment for a bad deed. They teach us how to be compassionate and forgiving towards all humanity. But, another common trait is the subjugation of women.
Religious teachings and practices also justify discrimination against women throughout whole societies. Women’s role in society was to beget children and serve the husband. The menstrual period is described as a stage when women were impure in many religions. The idea that women need to be protected and saved being the weaker sections is everything that is wrong with the world. All of the major world religions deprecate women to some degree. The world is a terribly unequal place, and cinema – often our escape from the harsh realities of the world – is no different. We know there’s a dearth of female characters in mainstream cinema, and those that are present are often molded into producers’ and audience’s favorite stereotypes. There is a need to free women from the male gaze.