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Religious Feminists: Can A Woman Be Feminist and Religious?

Can two conflicting ideas coexist? This is the big question for every modern day conservative feminist.

There is an upsurge in the number of feminists lately. The surge is not just in feminism but in other liberal ideals. True, ideologies are not always black and white. However, people expect that a true feminist would also adopt or advocate for other liberal ideologies like transgender rights, homosexuality, etc. This is because all of these agitations are out to dismantle the society as we know it. That is, the society governed by patriarchy, so to speak.

A feminist and religion

To do this, feminists fight tooth and nail against establishments they believe informs and sustains patriarchy. They say that the biggest enabler is religion.

Most of the major religions of the world subtly (or explicitly, sometimes) state that men are mandated to lead their homes, to lead the women, and to stand as the head. This elevated status is based on the belief that men are better suited for the rigors of life. But women believe it to be one of the reasons why men are ceaselessly chivalrous.

The status of men as providers and protectors, as informed by the religions, is said to infantilize women. They believe it makes them feel like an object incapable of making life-changing choices. It is for this reason that atheists who claim to be free from the shackle of religion insist that it is virtually impossible to be a Christian and feminist. That is, profess an adherent of an Abrahamic faith and be feminist, since religion is inherently misogynistic.

What is feminism?

This is quite damning for the Muslim or Christian feminist. The question now is: does feminism go against religious ideals? First things first, what is feminism?

Feminism is a “social theory or political movement which argues that legal and social restrictions on women must be removed in order to bring about equality of the sexes in all aspects of public and private life”.

Like other ideologies, there are many variants of feminism. Even though most feminists act oblivious of this fact. In the mainstream, feminism is used interchangeably with misandry. Misandry means the hate of men and the desire to usurp them. While the textbook definition of feminism is that it yearns for equality, some of its followers want more.

Anyway, how does religion restrict feminism?

As stated earlier, men are scripturally mandated to be leaders in homes and even religious places. The default superiority seems to be the biggest issue. So, the religious feminist would always hit a brick wall. At some point, they would have to pick one of the conflicting side.

But most religious feminists argue that their brand of feminism is different. They say equality is an unattainable goal as men and women are biologically wired different. They prefer gender equity. This is a confusing stance. But they are unrelenting in their argument that their adherence to a religion does not negate their feminist stance. Neither does it stamp out the need for advocacy of women’s rights. That includes the girlchild’s rights to education and advocacy against genital mutilation, for instance.

In these times, semantics are important. The atheists maintain that there can be no religious feminist. Because that in essence is as contradictory as “conservative-liberal”. Perhaps it would be best for the religious feminists to find themselves a new term.

What do you think?

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