Last week while reading chapter four in McGuire’s, Religion The Social Context, I became very intrigued with her discussion about gender roles. She evaluates how women’s religion influences their gender roles and identities in everyday culture. McGuire affirms that historically, definitions of gender roles have been highly influenced and created by religion. To me, this is very obvious because in many religions the men do everything and some religions don’t even allow men and women to sit together. Men are the ones who lead congregations, who are the leaders of a Church, and who are assigned the important roles; while women’s role is to tend to the children and take care of the men. This is why I was not shocked when McGuire attests that “nonofficial religion is one vehicle for women’s assertion of alternative religious roles” (McGuire128). This is not surprising to me because the role of women in official religion has been asserted through tradition and will be near impossible to change, so women look for another way. If women want to dictate their religious experience and be more active in their religion then they will find somewhere where they are able to do this because women are strong and will find a way to be heard. But, I’ve never really thought much further into how men affect women’s religion aside from their roles.
McGuire goes on to discuss not just how men have dictated women’s roles in religion, but also how women’s religion can be influenced by “men’s idea of what a properly religious woman should do and be” (129). She goes on to say that is not only because men have held all positions of authority, but also because they have decided what the beliefs, practices, norms, rituals, and organizational practices will be. I guess I never really thought of it in this way because for centuries, in almost all societies, women have been subordinate to men. In reality, they are the ones who taught us (women) to think and act this way in the first place. I never really realized how men have dictated everything in religion and because of them we believe what we do. Thus, men not only affect gender roles in religion but also how a woman’s interaction with religion is as a whole.