by Emily Luong
Can the two co-exist? You’re probably expecting a yes or no answer. But, it’s a little more complicated than that. Here’s some food for thought.
It’s safe to say that no religion believes itself to be sexist. So then why do some principles brush women off to the side? This is where the lines tend to blur.
In her paper “No Girls Allowed? Are the World’s Religions Inevitably Sexist?” Rita M. Gross states that “even when religion teaches that women are inferior to men or that women must submit themselves to men, women are especially encouraged to regard these teachings as valuable and useful, rather than problematic” (247).
To the non-religious, sexism would clearly be visible and present. To the religious, however, these principles were what they’ve been taught (probably since youth) and have shaped their moral compasses. In fact, Gross also mentions that a good amount of religious organizations actually express and support the view that feminism is anti-religious.
In that case, are religion and feminism forever mutually exclusive? How would a religious individual’s beliefs on basic human rights differ from that of a feminist’s?
Allison L. Boden explains it perfectly, “Human rights is a construct…” (“A Conflict of Rights Claims,” 17). Though the nation has laws to differentiate right from wrong, there is no way to determine who is “right” when it comes to issues like abortion that are within the grey area.
There are religious beliefs that directly contradict feminist beliefs and vice versa. So, is there such thing as a faithful feminist?