Gender issues are a great importance in contemporary society and culture. Although they concern both men and women at present, gender studies are still mainly focused on women because women have been voiceless for so long. Feminism see religion as a product of patriarchy as it only serves the interest of men. Jean holm argues that all religion preaches equality but they do not practice it.
This argument derived from her study of cotemporary religions which showed that women are subordinated to the role of men as they do not have a part to play in many religions. For example, in Japanese religions, the women arrange and organize public rituals, but only the men can take part in it. Thus showing devalued and important women are within religious organizations. A Marxist feminist DeBeauvoir believes that there must be a religion for women because if women have their own religion, they cannot be oppressed.
So therefore, they have created a feminine bible, where everything is equal between both sexes. Sociologists such as Stark believe that women are physically deprived as they suffer more life crisis than men; so therefore, women are more likely to turn to God as someone that can help them. DeBeauvoir reinforces this statement by saying that religion gives a divine guardian that they long for and gives them hope for a better future in a sexless heaven.
Meaning that religion gives women false consciousnesses by making them believe that women would be rewarded in heaven for their sufferings on earth and a heaven where there’s equality. However, Saadawi disagrees with the statement that religious teachings are the cause of the oppression and exploitation that women suffer, but blames the patriarchal system. She states that men have literally distorted religion especially in Islam, to socially control women and to serve their own interest, so religion isn’t the cause but the interpretation of it by men.
Leila Badawi also sees Islam as positive as women have a choice over the three types of Islam and they get to keep their own names. Therefore Islam is not as strict and controlling as members of society put it out to be. Helen Watson justifies this by stating that wearing the veil is a political choice and wearing a veil can be seen as a positive thing to some women. This is because after interviewing some muslin women, Badawi came to a conclusion that muslin women are trying to take a stand against western culture.
This is revealed when the women said that wearing the veil makes her proud of her religion and that it felt “liberating to have freedom of movement” as they can communicate with members of society without being on show. Sociologist Said, says that the west the west have created an orientalist discourse, justifying domination. So therefore, not all religions oppress and exploit women because some women do have a choice on certain things. An example would be Judaism as some women are now allowed to become rabbis and seikheism is now into equality and argues that women have choices.