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Final Exam SOCI 3600 Women and Religion notes.docx

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SOCI 3600
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Final Exam SOCI 3600 Women and Religion notes Macrosociology is an approach to sociology which emphasizes the analysis of social systems and populations on a large scale, at the level of social structure, and often at a necessarily high level of theoretical abstractiMacrosociology also concerns individuals, families, and other constituent aspects of a society, but always does so in relation to larger social system of which they are a part Microsociology is one of the main points (or focuses) of sociology, concerning the nature of everyday human social interactions and agency on a small scale: face to face.[1Microsociology is based on interpretative analysis rather than [2] statistical or empirical observation,and shares close association with the philosophy of phenomenology. Methods includes symbolic interactionism and ethnomethodology; ethnomethodology in particular has led to many academic sub- divisions and studies such as micro linguistical research and other related aspects of human social behaviour. Macrosociology, by contrast, concerns the social structure and broader systems. AFeminist and interdisciplinary approach to women in religion, to women and religion. •The objective of this course is to understand why women who are discriminated against in some religious traditions, treated like cattle with no rights, genitaly mutilated, who have their bodies (sexuality, child-rearing, clothing) controlled, who are ideologically subjected to feelings of guilt through idealistic discourses about purity and virginity..... Nevertheless continue to not only practice their religion, but also perpetuate its discrimatory, patriarcal oppression by teaching their daughters and sons to submit themselves to the same beliefs and rituals. What could possibly appeal to these women that they find some kind of compensation for the abuse, neglect, physical violence and/or inferiority status that they endure in their religious communities? To try to answer these questions we look at the macro and micro dimensions of religious traditions, East and West, including native and neo-pagan, as well as new spiritualties. We ponder the weight of spirituality in response to the bondage to institutionalized religion. We also want to distinguish between categories of women / men (socially constructed), male / female (conventionally gendered), and the feminine / masculine (types of energies running simultaneously through the physical body). This mapping allows us to rise above labelling, to include LGBTQIH (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered, Queer Questioning, Intersex, Hijra third gender) / GSD (Gender and Sexual Diversity umbrella). What has been at stake for feminists who have been raising issues, discussing gains and struggles faced by women in religious traditions that they continue to embrace in often conservative ways, is the need to reveal a new worldview, a nomos (Berger) by which women can still call themselves Muslim, Catholic,Anglican, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, etc. Yet these women can emancipate themselves from dogmatic views that cripple their agency and reduce them to servants, mothers, impure beings, and so on. For this shift to actually impregnate little by little the religious traditions at stake, women need to redefine themselves too. Not just daughters of a male omnipotent god, by also goddesses giving and sustaining life, equal to men in their potential to achieve spiritual awakening, carriers of energies of love, compassion, enlightenment, divine grace and sacredness. Women, girls, daughters, grand-mothers as a powerful community of spirits that transcends the institutionalization -at the macro level- of religious beliefs and spirituality. Women can empower themselves and strengthen their bonds by expanding their consciousness (using their imagination and concrete action) into unlimited mystical, social, ethical, spiritual fields, contributing also to the dissolving of gender barriers and most importantly, to human suffering. Sociological and theoretical aspects of the study of women in religion / women and religion. Exposition of an experiential pedagogy. The woman as goddess? Carol Christ's phenomenological, psychological and political reflections. In Shange's Broadway play For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, the statement 'I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely' prompts Carol Christ to ponder what the political and psychological effects of this 'fierce new love of the divine' can be. First we need to understand the importance of religious symbols and rituals to measure the effect of a symbolic male God on women.Astudy on incest in Christian families revealed that many of the girls sexually abused by their fathers kept silent because of the subconscious, subdued submission to male authority as exemplified by their Christian submission to the male God and Jesus that they were holding as of a sacred nature in their hearts. Symbols such as a male god have profound psychological effects on men and women. They create inner, deep- seated, acceptance of the dominating power of men over women and children.From this acceptance of the dominant role of men in families unfolds the possibility for men to impose the same schema into the social and political realms of society. Countless movies reproduce over and over this theme. Name a few here... The experiential methodology used in this course is meant to help us all unlock some of the fears of the unknown associated with a shift of perception from a male-centred, male-dominated religious dogma, to a neutral or feminine perception of the divine and the sacred realms. Mindfulness of the thought process acting in the background of our busy daily life, and awareness of the social construction of the legitimization of male superiority are steps towards empowerment, balance, freedom of choice and harmony. To start today we are listening and visualizing Pema Chodron's talk on Fear and Fearlessness (the courage to face our own fears and transcend them). Studying religion from a sociological perspective implies an interdisciplinary approach by which we look at both macro and micro aspects of religious and spiritual phenomena and discourses. Deconstructing religious dogma, rituals, symbols and myths that reify our conception of reality and provide answers to our existential questions requires that we look at psychological, political, cultural, social and economic dimensions of the ideological weight of religious beliefs onto social groups. Women and gender studies, for instance, take us into the questioning of what a woman is, what being female means. As a category, 'woman' is fluid. Nevertheless, in religions it is solidified and women are prescribed specific roles. Most of the time they are not seen as important to their traditions wherein the are subjected to the dualism male-female. Research on transsexuals has shown how constructed are male and female, masculine and feminine categories. When it comes to homosexuality, Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) as well as the Ba'hai faith, contain dogmatic views that oppose and vilify homosexuality. In other traditions (such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikkhis, the dogma is softer, as the call to practice non-violence tames the discriminatory discourse against homosexuals. Sexual energy in the latter is perceived as a means to elevate oneself spiritually, so the views about sexuality tend to be non-dichotomous contrary to theAbrahamic traditions that separate the purity of the soul from the impurity of the body. Women and Hinduism / Women in the Hindu Traditions Hinduism has to be perceived as a total way of life with a multitude of deities, rituals and traditions in the vast continent of India with over one billion of people. Women's roles in Hinduism differ from one state to the other, with southern states -still enforcing the Laws of Manu- being more conservative and oppressive towards women's lives. On top of the geographical disparities in the treatment of women, the caste system sets women up in terms or access to religion and secular education, to wealth, to professional and other occupations. The belief in samsara (the cyclical, ever-changing cycle of births and deaths ( as well as in karma (law of cause and effects of our actions) creates a sense of determinism by which women tend to accept their cultural and social conditions without any questioning. Traditionally, women are to fulfill their destiny by getting married, being chaste, loyal, and subservient to their husbands who they are to perceive as gods. The belief that the soul of the woman is to be attached to the soul of the husband to be worthy, leads widows to commit sati as they do not have any hope of salvation or a social life after the death of their husband. The fact that many girls are married to older men has increased the number of young widows in India and created a real concern for these women who are not allowed to get remarried and are at the merci of a son or in-laws. At the other end of the chastity spectrum the Devadesi practices throw girls in a life of prostitution and poverty to realize the goddess ideal in the minds of their fathers and other males. Hijras, androgyny and other sexual complexities get dealt with according to various tantric conceptualisations of gender. Here are a few themes that you might want to develop: - The changing role of women in Hinduism. Influence of colonisation and Western patriarchy. - Worship of the Goddess: female deities in Hinduism. Women's rituals. - Laws of Manu and total subordination of women. - Spiritual music and dance. - Female teachers. Sri MataAmritanandamayi - Hindu practice in the West -Key terms: Vedas, Brahman / Brahmin Dharma Karma SatiAshram Bhakti Tantric / Tantrism Puja Shakti Kundalini Guru Samadhi Hatha Yoga. Afew words on research: on the York libraries website you can access research guides to help with preparing for your presentation and deepening your knowledge about women and their religions. Go to Research guides. Under Humanities, choose Religion. Click getting started / texts online / Finding articles. You can use Reworks to automatically create a bibliography (APAor MLA).Anumber of encyclopedia and introductory texts are recommended. OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (for theory and classics), as well as Databases and Catalogues per se. Women in Judaism / women and Judaism Judaism is an ancient tradition (Abraham and Sarah are recorder living at around 1900 BCE).About 15 million Jewish people are living today, with as many in Israel as in NorthAmerica (about half a million in Canada). About 51 % are Jewish women who transmit the religion and its customs to their children, as adherence to religious laws is a central theme in the development of Jewish life. Being a Jew is first of all belonging to a people, a tribe, and Jewish identity is by blood. DNAtesting has been developed for Jews to find out to whose tribe of Israel they relate, the Levite, the Cohen, for a total of nine different Jewish groups. Yet, Jewish history in the biblical period is dominated by men. - Women in the Hebrew bible The Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible is the foundation of Jewish spirituality. After an egalitarian first version by whom God created 'in His image... male and female He created them' (Genesis 1:27), a second version (Genesis 2-3) presents a religious basis for the subordination of women. Not only is God presented as male deity, but He also creates man first, and then a companion to the man. Eve, the first woman, is blamed for the loss of innocence and happiness of humanity. But Eve is also the mythological mother of all humanity. In the Abrahamic traditions (Judeo-Christian-Muslim) she has chosen knowledge over obedience. Many women people the Jewish Bible.Among the matriarchs of the first period there are Sarah (Abrahams wife who had migrated from Canaan -Israel), Rebecca was Isaac's wife (Isaac son of Sarah andAbraham) and gave him two twin sons Esau and Jacob; Leah and Rachel, Queen Esther, etc. So Women have played a role in Jewish history, yet writing the Torah and being a rabbi have been reserved to Jewish men and purity rules have prevented Jewish women from gaining equality. It is the recent history with the fundamental role of Jewish women to promote and defend Zionism (think of Henriette Szold), as well as authorize themselves to modernize their interpretation of the bible to become rabbis (think of Sally Priesand in 1973), that has lifted up Jewish women above the traditional Jewish laws that kept them inferior to Jewish men. - Traditional Jewish laws concerning women. RachelAdler about menstruations and purity. Within Orthodox Judaism, strict Jews follow closely the Torah and the Talmud, as well as traditional rabbinic legal decisions. Orthodox Jewish women live within a pattern of traditional gender roles with home and family as their primary sphere. The men are the religious and social leaders. Sexuality is strictly confined to marriage and Orthodox women are constrained by rules of modesty, including not sitting near or socialize with men other than their own husbands or close relatives.At the synagogue for congregational prayers, Jewish women have to be shielded from men's view by a screen or curtain. They are to avoid sexual contact with their husbands during and after menstruation and after childbirth. Discrimination and silencing of Orthodox Jewish women is denounced by the more liberal of them (think of Tova Hartman and Tamar H. Miller Halbertal). Of course Judaism like other religions has developed in various branches with a number of liberal movements in the 19th and 20th centuries that have embraced the renaissance, the secularization of society and modernity. The influential Feminist theologian Judith Plaskow wrote: 'Afeminist critique of Jewish God-language begins with the unyielding maleness of the dominant Jewish picture of God.' in Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective, 1990. Ritual washing common among Orthodox Judaism: tevilah full body immersion after sexual intercourse with ejaculation or contact with a corpse or a carcass, netilat hand washing after many different types of activities from getting up in the morning, to making bread, to eating a vegetable at Passover. One important ritual common to all branches is tahara, the death washing ritual to honour the body of the deceased family member. Women only wash women. Prayers are recited and the body -up to ears and nails- is slowly and carefully washed downward. Women in Buddhism / Women in the Buddhist traditions Buddhism is both a religion in Asian, Buddhist countries, and a philosophy of life in the West where millions of Westerners - half of them women- practice some form or ritual derived from Buddhist teachings. While Buddhism per se considers gender as socially constructed and another delusion of the samsaric realm, nevertheless social and cultural patriarchal structures have prevented women from being fully ordained as monks are, should they choose to embrace the Buddhist path, in the Hinayana traditions? In the Mahayana and Tantric Buddhist communities of Japan, China, Tibet, historical developments have varied, all linked to the economic situation of women and their families. The creation of an order of nuns (Bikkhunis) from the time of the historical Buddha has been met with resistance throughout history with almost the complete disappearance of Bikkhunis in the 20th century. Today, there is a resurgence of Bikkhunis communities that parallels the increase of status of women inAsia and in the West, to a certain extend. Female deities abound in Mahayana and Tantric branches of Buddhism. Let us mention two examples. Kuan Yin (Kwan In) the Bodhisattva in China (male in the first depictions then female), Tara (21 different ones to represent different qualities of energy) and the yogini Yeshe Tsogyal in Tibet, are praised and visualized by men and women alike. Women in the Chinese traditions. Confucianism and Daoism. Yin and the Moon Confucianism was founded in the 6th century BC where the philosopher and court adviser Confucius wrote rules of conduct that some worship and live by as a religion
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