A Gendered Analysis and Critique of Religion when mentioned as atopic in this context, it brings the aspect of carrying out an analysis as well as addressing of critical issues that relate to religion and the place that is given to men and women. In this case, religion being defined as a set of beliefs that is followed by a certain group of people as their faith, it is important to bring out some examples of religious which will be used as examples among others. As such, there is the Islamic religion or faith and Christianity religion.
In line with this, these sets of religions have gender roles which are primarily dictated by the religion. As such, the treatment that is given to men and women is quiet different and thus this pint marks the point of analysis. In attempt to carry out a gendered analysis and critique of religion, Tomalin (2010) pointed out that religion can have negative influence on the role played by women in terms of social and economic developments(1). In line with this, Tomalin(2010) brings out the point that religions have in a way limited women's empowerment by limiting them from assuming responsibility either in the social or the economical sectors(1). It is further stated that though this may be true, some critics put it that the gender imbalance is no big deal. From this point of view, there are differences between women and men within the context of religion of which some argue that it is a means to justify oppression or subordination.
According to Ahmed (2010), issues of gender roles in Bangladesh have marginalized women. In this sense, this is a place which in most part of it is covered by Islamism which undervalues women and the fact that women should not rule men (1). As such, women have to wear burqas and taking the example of heyday, Jamaat never garnered more than 10% of the popular vote given to the reason that he credited women's empowerment(1). This is a prove of how religious beliefs have limited women from exploiting their potential. Kristof (2010) asserts that religion has worked hard to perpetuate and sanctify the oppression of women (1).
As a matter of fact, in Islam religion context, Muhammad himself is credited for being open-minded about women. However, his youngest wife, Aisha according to the religion who happened to be a feminist, lost a military battle against her rivals and as a result, oppression of women began and more so conservative interpretations of the role of women were set. At the same time, Kristof (2010), states that Christianity has the same conservative interpretations of the role of women. As such, Jesus is portrayed as a man who treated women with respect an attribute that was violated by the church elders in the early church who retrenched and adopted an ideology to reduce the role of women in the young church whereby Mary Magdalene was viewed as a prostitute.
From this account, it is evident that both Christians and Islamic religions have a poor mentality as well as a lower esteem for women while exalting their male counterparts. Besides this, Orton (2008) in the Washington post provides a good example of the way religion treats women and men. In this case, it happens in a Basketball court a case of a private religious high school and a female referee as misogynistic. In this context, when Michelle Campbell showed up to officiate a boy's basket ball game at St. Mary's Academy, she was informed that the school did not allow women to referee boys.
This was further explained and as such, women were not allowed by religious beliefs to have authority over men and thus, Michelle could not referee the boys. In connection to this case, it is arguable that religion has gender bias when it comes to issues of roles. As such, this is an issue that needs to be analyzed as well as assessed so as to establish the deficiencies and well as advantages that accompany the issue as whole. In the same line of thought, Frankenberry (2005) further traces the origin of gender bias in religion as to be emanating from the history of the philosophy of religion(1). Debatably, philosophy of religion originated from male tradition of production and transmission embedded in a history of excluding and devaluing women. Additionally, the history was defined by many concepts as well as symbols that were masculine in nature. As such, these concepts and symbols stood in opposition to those marked as feminine. In the light of these accounts, it becomes even clearer that religion has been established on the foundation of gender bias and as such, this is what has led to the different roles that are dictated by the various religious in the world.
Having provided the basic facts about Gendered Analysis and Critique of Religion, it is important to bring out the main points. According to Cabezón (1992), gendered analysis and critique of religion can be carried out from different major modes which employ gender as a variable. Since the modes are distinct and unrelated, they can bring out reliable results. The fist mode in this case considers religion as a social phenomenon and the role it plays to create social conceptions of gender. Secondly, it matters the way religious texts, institutions and symbols take up norms that in any given society determine what it means to be a male or a female.
In line with this, there is a major difference between how religious institutions made by men differ with those that are made by women. This is what marks the third mode of carrying gendered analysis of religion. The fourth mode has to do with the difference that exists by the way men and women interpret the religious texts and symbols. Needles to state, religious symbols and texts have been made based on the patriarchal framework.
In the light of this, Tamil Buddhist specifies celibacy for women, something that has affected the conception of a woman in the society. It has also been argued from research that societal norms of gender affect the way religions will view women and men since religion is part and parcel of culture. In the same way, gender has influence on religious elements as it regards how both men and women influence such elements in terms of symbolism and religious texts. At the same time, the way both men and women interpret and understand doctrine, determines the way both genders will relate towards the doctrine.
For instance, if a Christian woman reads the Bible and understands that she should not have power over a man, then, she will automatically be taken as a lesser or weaker gender an issue that is happening in the Christian circles. Likewise, Islamic religion from a male point of view reveals that a woman should be under the power of a man an issue that is happening within the Islamic circles. This is the same for Buddhists among others who have been brought up in a culture that exalt men over women.
Arguably, King and Beattie (2005) points out to the fact that religion has portrayed the role of a woman as that of a slave to a master and as consequence, religion has perpetuated oppression of women in the name of the religious beliefs (p.81). In line with this, Furseth and Repstad (2006), states that culture and religion are interrelated and as such, just as culture places a woman as a subordinate, religion will inevitably follow the same way. Together with this, religion is also influenced by human conception of power and knowledge and therefore, human knowledge has a woman as the weaker sex (65). Furthermore, Furseth and Repstad (2006), points that embodiment of belief is that religion is about sexuality with a lower preference to women (65). Mechanisms of power in the same manner exalt men over women and thus this explains why religion is gender bias.
As a matter of fact, Kunin (2003) puts it that the key aspect in a gendered analysis as well as critique of religion is that religion is a part that creates false consciousness. It actually creates a way of understanding and conceiving the world that traps women within the system of exploitation. In line with this, religion is an ideological tool of patriarchal systems that provides means by which women are alienated and thus women end up accepting that they are inferiors. Equally important, Brinkerhoff and Mackie (1985) brings out the point that tradition viewed women as inferior and thus with modernization things may change (415).
With the above given information, it is evident that a Gendered Analysis and Critique of Religion exposes many faults with it. As such, it has been over time been used a tool to alienate as well as oppress women. In this respect, religion has been portrayed as a neutral category but this has been nullified by the mere fact that the founding philosophy is patriarchal. This explains why in Christianity, Islam and Buddhist among others women are devalued and thus not given responsibility in the society. Outstandingly, this is a factor about religion that needs to be corrected especially in the modern society whereby equality has been demanded by women.