November 2, 2012 Lecture
FEMINISM AND RLG
Master concept: PATRIARCHY
An institution and cultural system
Frederick Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State ) 1884), called
this process the “historical defeat of the female sex”
Feminist scholars view rlg as one of the primary supports for patriarchal dominance-
institutionally and culturally- providing sanctification and legitimacy for patriarchy and
Fem theologians- as long as God is perceived a a male the rest of society will follow
2 central points= major rlgs today emerged w/in pat society’s. The tend to support the
perpetuation of patriarchy.
1.Universal claim that women are inferior to males- male superiority entrenched in all
major sacred traditions. They also say that women need to be controlled (physically,
intellects etc) by men.
2. Females have separate types of practices that are regarded as inferior to those of the
male. Excluded from official roles. Where they do have these roles they are still subjected
to men. Women aren’t authorized to speak in a creative way.
Sacred traditions put blame on females for misfortunes.
The Mother Goddess thesis: “when God was a woman”
Women’s role in ancient India-
Laws of Manu (codified in the 1st Century CE= the first King and Stage, who saved
humanity from the great flood= a sacred law code
It is the very nature of women to corrupt men here on Earth (women are the source of
A girl, young woman, or even an old woman should not do anything independently, even in
For women there is no independent sacrifice, vow or fast; a woman will be exalted in
heaven by the mere fact that she has obediently served her husband
Early Jain scripture:
The world is greatly troubled by women. For men do say “ These are the vessels of
happiness But this leads to pain, to delusion, to death, to hell, to birth as hell-beings or as
Malleus Maleficarum (1487) 2 monks in their role as inquisitors for Roman church
Witch Craze primarily in Germany. Scholarly estimates-
100, 000 trials
15,000 documented executions
40,000-100,000 dead (80% were women)
Section One affirms reality of Witchcraft against critics and skeptics and documents the
close connections of witches and the devil
Infidelity, ambition and lust took control over women because their lust is insatiable
Do not suffer the witch to live (Exodus)
Section Two describes actual cases of Witchcraft, the powers of witches, how they are
recruited (through sexual temptation- lustful sexual appetite) and the various remedies
They become demons by having sex with the devil. It leads to disasters, miscarriages, loss
of crops, death of cattle etc.
Q7, How do witches deprive men of his virile member?
Men are filled with delusion and lose their sense of sight and touch.
Section Three is intended to assist judges and magistrates in legal proceedings against
witches i.e. how to interrogate witnesses, the precise charges, signs of being a witch\
*Women, sexuality and the demonic are all linked together.
OUTLINE OF WORLD RLGS
PHASE 1= PREHISTORY (Before writing)
Paleolithic Era c 2.5 million years to 10,000 BCE
Homo sapiens from c. 250, 000 BCE (out of Africa into Eurasia)
We become less dependent on our biology and more dependent on our social arrangement
and culture that we establish
Evidence- cave paintings (40,000 BCE) Burial sites and cultural “survivals.”
No signs that the early hominids were capable of religious/metaphysical thought.
Burial customs: Q: afterlife beliefs? Honoring the dead?
Many bodies arranged in crouching, fetal positions w/ food offerings and flint implements
some possibly w/ floral bouquets.
Fetal position symbolically references our birth. Preliminary to their birth in the afterlife.
Why food and tools? They’ll need food for the journey and weapons/tools where they’re
Cult of the Cave Bear? Arrangement of bear skulls on elevated slabs/altars… perhaps
hunting magic/showing respect for the animal they were living off of. Continue successful
Phase 2= History & Rise of the state-
First civilizations emerged in the great river valleys. Village life/ permanent settlements
The Fertile Crescent (Tigris/Euphrates) the Nile the Indus and Ganges, the Huang He and
Metallurgy, writing and record-keeping, astronomy and calendars, complex division of
labor, artisans& merchants, trade, private property, cities… rising wealth & pop^
The rise of power/kings/ royal courts is a response to growing complexity… the rise of the
state and its particular hierarchical structure. A segment of pop^ will be extremely
wealthy/powerful and many more ppl under their being.
State formation= hierarchical structures of command, rule by kinds, their officials
(bureaucracy) and their royal troops or armies and aristocratic elites (largest land owners
and have blood connection to the royal family. Sometimes they challenge the ruler).
= leads to emergence of polytheistic religions (they look like the state w/ same
bureaucratic structure – 1 king God and others beneath him/her hierarchically)
(w/ identifiable gods and goddesses a rlgs knowledge conveyed in mythology and art;
emergence of professional priesthoods responsible for doctrines, managing rituals etc)
ORIENT- Contemplation “wisdom”. Exemplary holy figures salvation through gnosis,
illumination, transcending the self
Pantheism and cyclical cosmology
Find salvation by forgetting/going beyond yourself and linking with the cosmic power
You must comply with commandments
OCCIDENT- Features asceticism “revelation”
Ppl are emissaries, prophets
Salvation through conduct-ethical action
Submit to God’s commands
Monotheism or historical eschaton