Evaluate Feminist Views on the Role and Function of Religion in Society Today

2125 Words9 Pages
Evaluate Feminist views on the role and function of religion in society today (33) As a Social Systems, conflict perspective, feminists largely agree that society is patriarchal or male dominated. Radical feminists in particular regard religious institutions as patriarchal as they reflect and perpetuate this gender inequality within society. Moreover, they see religious beliefs as patriarchal ideologies that legitimate women’s subordination. By contrast, liberal feminists are more positive about the function of religion in society today and see ‘signs of hope’ with regards to the role it may play in helping to liberate women from their oppression and subordination. This essay will outline and assess each approach in turn. Radical feminism is a perspective within feminism that focuses on the hypothesis of patriarchy as a system of power that organises society into a complex of relationships based on the assertion that male supremacy oppresses women. With regards to religion, they see religion as serving the interests of men. The French feminist, Simone de Beauvoir provides an explanation about why gender inequality in religion exists. According to de Beauvoir, religion acts very similar to women as Marxists see it acting on oppressed classes. She says; there must be a religion for women as there must be one for the common people, and for exactly the same reasons.’ She notes that men have exercised control over religious beliefs, however in modern societies, ‘religion seems much less an instrument of constraint than an instrument of deception.’ She notes that women are deceived by religion into thinking of themselves as equal to men, despite their evident inequality. Simone de Beauvoir compares religion to how Marx’s proletariat, in that it gives women the false belief that they will be compensated for their sufferings on earth by equality in heaven. She
Open Document