Religion and Gender Roles

In Samantha Eyler’s article, “Why I Had to Lose My Religion Before I Could Support Gender Equality”, she talks about how she was taught, as a child, to conform to rigorous gender roles. She, as a woman born into her fundamentalist religion, was to remain quiet and subordinate. That sort of brainwashing worked for her for 16 years. It wasn’t until she went off to college and devoured religion and philosophy courses and other holy books and scriptures, did she realize where her religion went wrong.

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She realized that her personal values and her religion’s morals didn’t line up. Why should she, someone who wanted to be a doctor or a senator, have to remain on the sidelines and do nothing except what her husband wished? Her tale of finding herself and then wanting to find religion all over again is near and dear to my heart.

I’ve been brought up in a strictly Catholic household. In Poland, where my parents are from, religion is the biggest and most important thing in everyone’s lives. At least, in my family. So when my parents came across the Atlantic, they brought their strict morals and guidelines from their religion with them. As a child, I followed along. I didn’t know any better, right? Maybe my faith started to break when I was told by my instructor in CCD that because I was a girl, I couldn’t be a pastor. I wanted to talk about my love for God and the love God had for me to people all the time. I wanted to share the word of God with people, so why shouldn’t I be able to be a pastor?

I started noticing the inequalities in my religion throughout high school but I would never be able to outright call them straight gender inequalities until I came to college myself. It angered me to see my religion treat women, who are just as devout as men, the way that they did. I wouldn’t stand for the hypocrisies I had been spoon fed since I was little. So I called off my religion. I stopped going to church, I stopped praying. I adopted the idea that if I led a good life and did good unto others, then I’d be okay. If I needed to talk to God, or gods or any other higher being, I could and I didn’t have to limit myself to the rituals of the Catholic church. I want to be able to do good in the world not because my religion has told me to, but because it’s the right thing to do.

And it may have torn a rift in my family, but there are much worse things to tear families apart than differing views on a religion or wanting to be treated as an equal.

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8 comments

  1. Fascinating,deep article! Not easy when it comes to having a view of gender radically different to the one you’re encouraged to have. I have an article on WordPress entitled A Feminist’s God and I hope that you’d read it!

  2. This is an interesting article about gender roles. I’m a Christian and I understand where you’re coming from. There’s a lot of people out there that will tell you women can’t be pastors or other weird rules that they somehow feel are more important that the others. What is important is your love for God and compared to that nothing else matters. I don’t want to seem like I’m telling you what to do, I just think you shouldn’t let someone else’s opinion change your religion. What Jesus taught has never been about rituals. It’s all about his forgiveness. That’s what really matters and personally I think if women want to be pastors they should go for it! Anyway, good blog and I hope you don’t become bitter towards God for what some people say about rules and rituals.

    1. My religion was not deterred because of the rituals but rather my own personal beliefs extenxing beyond what was taught and acceptable in the church. I don’t feel bitter in regards to God, but I just don’t think of them as my own personal god. My views end up conflicting a lot with the church so I’ve become agnostic. (:

  3. This was a very good post, because gender and religion is a big issue now a days. Everybody has their own thoughts and beliefs about each situation. This definitely got me thinking about specific gender roles and thoughts that many people have about these issues.

  4. I forget at what age I started to really examine the bible, but I know I was fairly shocked by the treatment of women within. Besides the overt lessons of subordinance, there are plenty of subtler things that just rubbed me the wrong way. The whole Adam and Eve story makes me uncomfortable now that I can dissect Eve timeline, from her creation out of Adam to a punishment far more severe than her husband’s. Also, y’know, the sheer amount of rape. Nobody talks about that in church. I’m not anti-bible, per se. I just think maybe it’s something we ought to examine more thoroughly.

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