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gallan
07-05-2012, 07:56 PM
Or perhaps more to the point, is there currently, or has there ever been, any major religion that isn't inherently misogynistic in the way early texts, doctrines, and leaders address women, even if the religion isn't still widely practiced today?

dolphinboy
07-05-2012, 08:39 PM
Reform Judaism in practice isn't misogynistic to my way of thinking. Conservative and Orthodox Judaism are another story...

Buddhism?

kanicbird
07-05-2012, 08:47 PM
Wicca as practiced where I am vastly favors females and males are basically second class.

thelurkinghorror
07-05-2012, 09:15 PM
Maenad-ism.

Why Conservative? They don't do that separate seating thing, do they?

Ulfreida
07-05-2012, 09:50 PM
Buddhism would not be on the list of religions that favor women.

Lots of religions have reform segments that seek to equal things up, however. UU and Reconstructionist Judaism, for two.

I'd also say the modern Society of Friends would be an example. Not the early days perhaps.

bldysabba
07-05-2012, 10:42 PM
The earliest and most authoritative texts of Hinduism - the Vedas, are not at all misogynstic AFAIK, and give equal rights to men and women. Thousands of years later, patriarchal societies were in place in most of India(except a couple of places that were not susceptible to invasion) and mistreatment of women common. Take that as you will.

Siam Sam
07-05-2012, 10:51 PM
Definitely not Buddhism. Monks rule, and nuns are treated as lower class by the Buddhist authorities. Very lower class. Nuns have been defrocked for daring to act as if they were on the same level as monks.

nikonikosuru
07-06-2012, 12:02 AM
Definitely not Buddhism. Monks rule, and nuns are treated as lower class by the Buddhist authorities. Very lower class. Nuns have been defrocked for daring to act as if they were on the same level as monks.

Not only that, but if I recall correctly there has never been a female Buddha. The closest to a highly revered woman is the mother of Buddha. And from what I remember Buddha was originally reluctant to pass his teachings on to females because if he was to do so the age of enlightenment would be drastically shortened. It happened anyway, and it seems to put the blame on women similar to how Eve got everyone kicked out of the garden of Eden.

Ambivalid
07-06-2012, 12:10 AM
Unitarian Universalism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism)

Gagundathar
07-06-2012, 12:25 AM
Wicca as practiced where I am vastly favors females and males are basically second class.

I can't speak for you, but my experience is that Wicca is usually pretty egalitarian (with some matriarchal tendencies). However, Dianic Wicca absolutely favors women over men.

Tamerlane
07-06-2012, 12:37 AM
The Baha'i make some claim to promoting gender equality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD_Faith_and_gender_equality). Apparently including the notion that daughters should be preferentially educated before sons if there is a financial limitation. However they are excluded from the highest echelon of the faith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_House_of_Justice) for reasons that are utterly vague.

Whether that all adds up to favoring women overall I'll leave to the reader.

IvoryTowerDenizen
07-06-2012, 05:15 AM
Maenad-ism.

Why Conservative? They don't do that separate seating thing, do they?

Some conservative congragations still won't let women read Torah or have full egalitarian rights. It's apparently a big deal at leadership conferences, as they'll have two sets of services: egalitarian and not. Causes friction between the two groups. Conservative synagogues really run the gamut from 'conservadox' to extremely socially progressive.

Darth Panda
07-06-2012, 05:20 AM
Discordianism

Senegoid
07-06-2012, 06:37 AM
I've read somewhere that gender equality is one of the tenets of the Sikh religion. Does anybody here know about that one way or the other?

JackieLikesVariety
07-06-2012, 06:37 AM
is there a way to subscribe to a thread without starting it or posting to it? she asked, posting to it....:)

Namkcalb
07-06-2012, 07:09 AM
I've read somewhere that gender equality is one of the tenets of the Sikh religion. Does anybody here know about that one way or the other?
It's not true, women aren't subject to the oppressive requirement to grow a beard.
I know, I know, technically only shaving is prohibited

IvoryTowerDenizen
07-06-2012, 07:23 AM
is there a way to subscribe to a thread without starting it or posting to it? she asked, posting to it....:)

Under the "Thread Tools" link (second blue menu bar) is the option to "Subscribe"

bldysabba
07-06-2012, 07:35 AM
It's not true, women aren't subject to the oppressive requirement to grow a beard.
I know, I know, technically only shaving is prohibited

I could well be wrong, but I think cutting any hair on your body is prohibited, and facial hair is only one subset. So sikh women are subject to that requirement. I'm not aware if the religion otherwise treats women the same. It has many warrior aspects to it, so I suspect not.

chappachula
07-06-2012, 10:05 AM
I've read somewhere that gender equality is one of the tenets of the Sikh religion. Does anybody here know about that one way or the other?

google "sikh forced marriage" to see how wrong you are.

Shagnasty
07-06-2012, 10:31 AM
Shakers were Christian but also represented an egalitarian social movement that valued women and men equally. They lived and worked communally but they were also celibate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakers

Really Not All That Bright
07-06-2012, 11:32 AM
google "sikh forced marriage" to see how wrong you are.
That's a practical rather than theoretical distinction. I think the OP is looking for the latter.

greenslime1951
07-06-2012, 11:44 AM
Given that up until quite recently, the idea that women were inferior to men was taken by the vast majority of the world as an absolute truth (i.e., not even worthy of discussion), and that virtually every one of the world's religions and attendant doctrines were created quite some time ago, I'd be surprised if there were any religions that expressly state(d) that women were the equals of men.

I'm not referring to cultural norms here; for instance, Islam and Judaism explicitly state that women are to be subservient to men, but Islamic societies treat their women like farm animals, whereas Jewish women have a high place in the social hierarchy. I'm referring to religious doctrine that encodes gender equality. I don't think there is such a thing out there.

An exception to the above might include Wicca and some of the druidic/witchy religions. I don't know if they explicitly state that women are equals to men, but I do understand that the most powerful individuals are often priestesses, not priests.

yabob
07-06-2012, 12:03 PM
In terms of stated doctrine, the Baha'i faith clearly espouses gender equality. As well as the importance of scientific thought. Some people suggest that, in practice, they are hypocritical on both counts. They DO appear to be inconsistent with those tenets in certain areas, but at least they have it down on paper, and sometimes practice it.

The major inconsistencies that people will point to:

1) Their viewpoint on homosexuality is pretty much in line with more conservative Abrahamaic religions. It's a sin. And current scientific research hasn't convinced them otherwise (note that they don't have any problem with MOST scientific thought).

2) In spite of being very much to the forefront in women's education, and the role of women in society, and so on, their highest governing body is still exclusively male.

The Baha'i Faith line on gender equality:

http://www.bahai.us/social-action/advancement-of-women/

(The Baha'i faith is interesting. It was created in the 19th century, and tends to mirror very progressive thought from that era. Hence, they had to reconcile their basic doctrines with a scientific viewpoint, DID espouse gender equality, DID NOT approve of monasticism, insisting that faith only had value if practiced out in the world, etc. But they considered homosexuality abhorent, as well as consumption of alcohol, for instance.)

gvozd
07-06-2012, 01:22 PM
Of a surety Islam :P

Qin Shi Huangdi
07-06-2012, 01:47 PM
The Anglicans allow the ordination of women as clergy and are otherwise quite egalitarian. The same can be said for most other liberal Christian denominations.

carnivorousplant
07-06-2012, 02:10 PM
Conservative synagogues really run the gamut from 'conservadox' to extremely socially progressive.

I was not aware of that.
Orthodox thank G-d for making them a man, Reform for making them a Jew. I don't recall the Conservative version.

robert_columbia
07-06-2012, 02:40 PM
What about Scientology? I know there's that thing about your mom messing you up by trying to abort you, but I don't actually see a systematic belief in the inferiority of women there.

Or is Scientology too new or too small to count?

thelurkinghorror
07-06-2012, 02:51 PM
The Anglicans allow the ordination of women as clergy and are otherwise quite egalitarian. The same can be said for most other liberal Christian denominations.

Not all of them. AFAIK the Church in Wales does not.

carnut
07-06-2012, 02:55 PM
I have a Christian friend who, after many years of studying theology, became a Catholic. Her reasoning was not only to get closer to the origins of Christianity but also because, in the evangelical Lutheran church she grew up with, she felt it had no place for women who were not married. As a single adult (her chosen lifestyle) she felt her religion did not value her, especially because she was not a wife and mother. The Catholics, on the other hand, stressed the value of such women as Mary and Martha and value the roles nuns play in the parish.

I thought this was an interesting take on it. I grew up Catholic but do not practice religion now. Two of my beefs with the Catholic Church specifically is that they do not allow priests to marry or women to become priests. Having studied religious practices, but not theology, I do agree wholeheartedly with her take on the church she had been attending.

ladyisatramp
07-06-2012, 09:54 PM
Though definitions of religion are probably a whole other debate, my understanding of Christs teaching (Galations 3:28 There is niether Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus) does not 'favour' any but rather favours equality for all.

carnivorousplant
07-06-2012, 10:01 PM
Though definitions of religion are probably a whole other debate, my understanding of Christs teaching (Galations 3:28 There is niether Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus) does not 'favour' any but rather favours equality for all.

That sounds like something Paul would say, rather than Jesus, a Jew believing he was the Messiah and all.

greenslime1951
07-06-2012, 10:02 PM
Though definitions of religion are probably a whole other debate, my understanding of Christs teaching (Galations 3:28 There is niether Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus) does not 'favour' any but rather favours equality for all.

Maybe so, but no religion follows or ever has followed his teaching.

carnivorousplant
07-06-2012, 10:06 PM
That isn't Jesus, it's Paul's Letter to the Galatians. Paul has forsaken Judaism and has invented Christianity.

Imago
07-06-2012, 10:39 PM
What about Scientology? I know there's that thing about your mom messing you up by trying to abort you, but I don't actually see a systematic belief in the inferiority of women there.

Or is Scientology too new or too small to count?

Scientology in practice is a horror trove of forced abortions, abortions not given when wanted, coerced sex, etc.

But scientology in theory is something I only know the bare basics of. There's no mention of gender equality in what I know. Does anyone here have more extensive knowledge of scientology texts?

brujaja
07-06-2012, 11:32 PM
Stregheria!!!

florez
07-07-2012, 01:05 AM
In terms of stated doctrine, the Baha'i faith clea



(The Baha'i faith is interesting. It was created in the 19th century, and tends to mirror very progressive thought from that era. Hence, they had to reconcile their basic doctrines with a scientific viewpoint, DID espouse gender equality, DID NOT approve of monasticism, insisting that faith only had value if practiced out in the world, etc. But they considered homosexuality abhorent, as well as consumption of alcohol, for instance.)

A Canadian writer named Michael McKinney was disenrolled from the Bahai faith for his outspokenness concerning the exclusion of women from the high administration and governing body of the religion.
He was considered a dissident for participating on internet discussions about the inequality facing women in the Bahai religion.
Apparently, the rule to exclude women comes from the scripture and is considered impossible to change, so discussion on it is seen as opposition to the law.
http://www.whoisbahaullah.com/Alison/chron.html

Senegoid
07-07-2012, 03:15 AM
google "sikh forced marriage" to see how wrong you are.

Okay, I just did. Ignorance fought. Well, sort of.

Just from looking at the snippets that appear on the search results page (of which there are many), and without taking the time to read the articles, I see that the problem very much exists, or is very much alleged to exist, and is also disputed by others. So what I get from this little bit of superficial research is that the matter is a very unsettled area; that at least some factions in Sikhism denounce the forced marriage practices (which seems to be a confession that it does exist somewhere); and that there is apparently some evolution in progress, FWIW.

StusBlues
07-09-2012, 01:36 PM
Unitarian Universalism. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism)

This is certainly true for the church as it stands today, but both Unitarian and Universalism were certainly paternalistic in the nineteenth century, albeit nowhere near to the degree that most other American churches were.

Hey, the OP specified "early" variants.

Gagundathar
07-09-2012, 01:49 PM
...
An exception to the above might include Wicca and some of the druidic/witchy religions. I don't know if they explicitly state that women are equals to men, but I do understand that the most powerful individuals are often priestesses, not priests.

Wicca is a very decentralized religion. In fact, quite a few of its practitioners relish the fact that it is a 'disorganized' religion. Back in the 1970s, a temporary 'Council of American Witches' was formed to create a general set of principles. These have been used as a template for various manifestations of principles and practices to this day. Principle 4 is as follows: We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lies in all people and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine. We value neither above the other knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energy used in magical practice and religious worship.

snowthx
07-09-2012, 03:01 PM
Several dozen well-informed posts so far and no clear answer. That says something.

Keeve
07-09-2012, 03:26 PM
Several dozen well-informed posts so far and no clear answer. That says something.More than anything else, I think the lack of a clear answer is the result of the lack of a clear question. Let's review the OP, with emphasis added by me:Or perhaps more to the point, is there currently, or has there ever been, any major religion that isn't inherently misogynistic in the way early texts, doctrines, and leaders address women, even if the religion isn't still widely practiced today?There's a presumption here that the great majority of religions are indeed misogynistic. But that is a very debatable subject, and I really recommend that this thread might belong in Great Debates for that very reason.

I know, for example, that in my religion (Judaism), there are a great many things which certainly SEEM misogynistic, but depending on how one understands them, they can seem not anti-women, or might even be pro-women.

I presume the same is true in other religions as well. If you take any random religion and find a woman who is active and proud in it, of course there's a chance that she's been brainwashed and/or resentful of the misogyny, but there are also such women who will defend such practices and feel genuinely unhurt by them.

kanicbird
07-09-2012, 03:44 PM
Or perhaps more to the point, is there currently, or has there ever been, any major religion that isn't inherently misogynistic in the way early texts, doctrines, and leaders address women, even if the religion isn't still widely practiced today?

also would like to point out that the term you use ' isn't inherently misogynistic' does not equal 'favoring women' though it can include such religions.

snowthx
07-09-2012, 08:36 PM
[QUOTE=Keeve;15254263]There's a presumption here that the great majority of religions are indeed misogynistic. But that is a very debatable subject...QUOTE]

Okay, perhaps the right questions is "Are there any religions that exist today or in the past that treat(ed) men and women as equals?". That removes the inherent active unfairness from the equation.

I suspect the answer remains the same.

kanicbird
07-09-2012, 08:45 PM
[QUOTE=Keeve;15254263]There's a presumption here that the great majority of religions are indeed misogynistic. But that is a very debatable subject...QUOTE]

Okay, perhaps the right questions is "Are there any religions that exist today or in the past that treat(ed) men and women as equals?". That removes the inherent active unfairness from the equation.

I suspect the answer remains the same.

Well that now leaves out Dianic Wicca

I think many religions try to be equal, but in practice fail, not so much because of religious doctrine but because of a societal tendency to oppress women

Elendil's Heir
07-09-2012, 08:56 PM
The Anglicans allow the ordination of women as clergy and are otherwise quite egalitarian. The same can be said for most other liberal Christian denominations.

Generally yes, although the Church of England is now grappling with the strong resistance of many conservatives to the thought of having female bishops: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/09/us-britain-religion-women-idUSBRE8680PU20120709

We've had female clergy in the Episcopal Church (the post-American Revolution offshoot of the Church of England) since 1976, and female bishops since 1989. As it happens, our current presiding bishop is a woman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Jefferts_Schori

The Episcopal Church is very fair-minded and open to all. I'm proud to be a member.

Keeve
07-09-2012, 09:08 PM
[QUOTE=Keeve;15254263]Okay, perhaps the right questions is "Are there any religions that exist today or in the past that treat(ed) men and women as equals?". That removes the inherent active unfairness from the equation.Much better, thanks. (I'll refrain from further comment to avoid pushing the conversation into GD.)

thelurkinghorror
07-09-2012, 09:42 PM
Generally yes, although the Church of England is now grappling with the strong resistance of many conservatives to the thought of having female bishops: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/09/us-britain-religion-women-idUSBRE8680PU20120709

We've had female clergy in the Episcopal Church (the post-American Revolution offshoot of the Church of England) since 1976, and female bishops since 1989. As it happens, our current presiding bishop is a woman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Jefferts_Schori

The Episcopal Church is very fair-minded and open to all. I'm proud to be a member.

The head of the entire Communion is also a woman, but nobody voted for her.

Hmm, or maybe she's just the head of the CoE. Now I'm not so sure.

even sven
07-09-2012, 10:04 PM
I'm not referring to cultural norms here; for instance, Islam and Judaism explicitly state that women are to be subservient to men, but Islamic societies treat their women like farm animals, whereas Jewish women have a high place in the social hierarchy..

Islam explicitly does not "treat women like farm animals." Islam has very defined rights for women. For example, a polygamous man is required to spend equal time with his wives, and support them all equally, Women's property rights and inheritance are laid out. In cases of divorce, women have certain rights.

This was a huge improvement to many older practices, where women were literally bought and sold, and discarded without a second thought. Even today, this is true in some areas. In Northern Cameroon, for example, a Muslim widow has the right to inherit property, and her husband's family has an obligation to make sure she is supported. A woman practicing traditional religions would have no such protection, and would probably be sold as field labor, if she was lucky.

Of course, the cutting edge of women's rights a thousand years ago isn't really all that progressive today. But it's not a worst-case scenerio.

Elendil's Heir
07-09-2012, 10:39 PM
The head of the entire Communion is also a woman, but nobody voted for her.

Hmm, or maybe she's just the head of the CoE. Now I'm not so sure.

Yes, the Queen is Supreme Governor of the Church of England, as have been all of her predecessors back to Henry VIII. She has no title within the Anglican Communion, though, as far as I know; the Archbishop of Canterbury, the top British bishop, is its symbolic but not empowered head.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archbishop_of_canterbury

jovan
07-10-2012, 12:53 AM
This was a huge improvement to many older practices, where women were literally bought and sold, and discarded without a second thought.
I think that's something that needs to be stressed. Some religious texts may appear misogynistic to us, but in their historical context they might have been quite progressive.

On the whole, it's true that Buddhism, as it's practiced today, doesn't particularly favour women. Nevertheless, one of the oldest feminist texts, the Therigatha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therigatha) is part of fundamental Buddhist scriptures. It's a book written by women about women, and it certainly paints a very egalitarian image of Buddhist doctrine. Certainly, it's full of stories of women reaching enlightenment.

English translation. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/index.html)

Early Buddhism reflected the fact that it arose in a very misogynistic culture. In several scriptural passages, mention is made that being a woman is undesirable, but this is ultimately presented as a condition that can be transcended. Buddhist nuns had to follow a much stricter code of conduct, but some scholars argue that much of the monastic code existed for the purpose of peaceful cohabitation with society at large. In other words, they did not allow novice monks to bow to nuns because it would make them look like extremists.

MrDibble
07-10-2012, 09:57 AM
Christian Science is very heavily into gender equality on the face of it - there is frequently one Reader of each gender, they refer to God as asexual/androgynous ("Father-Mother God") and the veneration of Mary Baker Eddy is, frankly, somewhat cultlike for some C-Scientists. Not sure how that carries over to the Church as a whole...

matt_mcl
07-10-2012, 09:42 PM
The Anglicans allow the ordination of women as clergy and are otherwise quite egalitarian. The same can be said for most other liberal Christian denominations.

Likewise, the United Church of Canada, Canada's largest Protestant denomination, believes explicitly in gender equality and has ordained women since 1936 (though the Canadian Methodists, one of the component churches of the UCC, had been ordaining women since 1880). A number of women have served as Moderators of the UCC, though this is not a sacred position and need not be held by a clergyperson (the current moderator is a lay woman).

MichaelEmouse
07-10-2012, 09:53 PM
Islam has very defined rights for women.

the cutting edge of women's rights a thousand years ago isn't really all that progressive today.



What, nobody's gonna jump on that sharia pun?


(emphasis mine)

gwendee
07-10-2012, 09:58 PM
Christian Science is very heavily into gender equality on the face of it - there is frequently one Reader of each gender, they refer to God as asexual/androgynous ("Father-Mother God") and the veneration of Mary Baker Eddy is, frankly, somewhat cultlike for some C-Scientists. Not sure how that carries over to the Church as a whole...

When I first read the OP I thought of posting about Christian Science. My own take is that it reveres equality moreso than women. In Science and Health (often called the Christian Science textbook) Mary Baker Eddy wrote:
One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; con‐
stitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the
Scripture, "Love thy neighbor as thyself;" annihilates
pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in
social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes;
equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves
nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.

monavis
07-11-2012, 06:46 AM
Or perhaps more to the point, is there currently, or has there ever been, any major religion that isn't inherently misogynistic in the way early texts, doctrines, and leaders address women, even if the religion isn't still widely practiced today?

I read once years ago that the godesses were worshipped before Gods came in to power. Archaeologists have found many small statues fom that time of female gods.

Nava
07-11-2012, 06:59 AM
I know, for example, that in my religion (Judaism), there are a great many things which certainly SEEM misogynistic, but depending on how one understands them, they can seem not anti-women, or might even be pro-women.

I presume the same is true in other religions as well.

Yep. A lot of things need to be put in context: in a time and place where nobody had thought of giving women the right to vote, would it be mysoginistic to not let women vote in [church] business? It would have been, it was, business as usual.

Anne Neville
07-11-2012, 10:53 AM
Wicca is a very decentralized religion. In fact, quite a few of its practitioners relish the fact that it is a 'disorganized' religion.

There's a bit of that going on in Conservative Judaism, too. There is a committee of rabbis that decides what Conservative Jewish law is, but local rabbis or congregations can decide to override that. They won't get kicked out or told they can't call themselves Conservative Jewish any more if they do.

In my experience, most Conservative synagogues do call women to the Torah and do not have separate seating for men and women. I certainly wouldn't join one that didn't call women to the Torah, did have separate seating, or did have a problem with women in leadership positions. These requirements have never been a problem for us when looking for a Conservative synagogue.

Johanna
07-11-2012, 02:53 PM
Islam and Judaism explicitly state that women are to be subservient to menNot sure about Judaism, but there is no such thing in Islam.but Islamic societies treat their women like farm animalsNo they don't. You're just making shit up.

Although one of my exes had been to Russia and showed me a dress she got there which was a regular tent, like an extra-voluminous muumuu but full-length. She said in the old days, Russian peasant women had to pull the plows (what, they didn't have mules?), and they wore this type of dress for the work. My ex never wore the thing, of course, she just bought it to demonstrate the former status of Russian women.

As for Wicca, when Gardner put together the Gardnerian type of Wicca in the 1930s, he encoded hard and fast gender roles that appear obsolete to 21st-century eyes and are unfriendly to all gender variants.

My nominations for the best woman-friendly (and not man-unfriendly) forms of Witchcraft are Feri and Reclaiming. Both are radically egalitarian and liberatory as to gender. Every possible gender or combination thereof or lack thereof is welcomed and valued. I'm in Reclaiming, and I've never found any religion that suits me better; I felt absolutely at home in it for the first time in my life.

As for Dianic Craft, it's a tragic failure. It could have been such an awesome deal for witch women if it hadn't departed from positive feminist principles to become a misandric hate group. (Yes, guys, there is a difference between them.) If Gardner's Wicca is stuck in the 1930s as to gender, Dianic Witchcraft is stuck in the 1980s' sex wars. The world has moved on from that stuff.

Also: What everyone else said about UU. They are right on.

Johanna
07-11-2012, 03:23 PM
Stregheria!!!
Hai detto la verità. :)

WhyNot
07-11-2012, 03:49 PM
Wicca as practiced where I am vastly favors females and males are basically second class. Matches my observations, too. There's a lot of lip service to equality, but most of the movers and shakers in the community are the women.



As for Wicca, when Gardner put together the Gardnerian type of Wicca in the 1930s, he encoded hard and fast gender roles that appear obsolete to 21st-century eyes and are unfriendly to all gender variants.
Word. And that's trickled down to a lot of Generic Neopaganism, as well. Where the hell does one stand when the Maypole is divided into two rings - men and women - if one has a gender not matching sex, or a gender that is neither exclusively male nor female? The good news is, I've had a LOT of interesting discussions with other Priest/esses about different ways to divvy people up without forcing everyone into a gender binary. The bad news is, the gender binary is still predominate in public rituals.

My nominations for the best woman-friendly (and not man-unfriendly) forms of Witchcraft are Feri and Reclaiming. Both are radically egalitarian and liberatory as to gender. Every possible gender or combination thereof or lack thereof is welcomed and valued. I'm in Reclaiming, and I've never found any religion that suits me better; I felt absolutely at home in it for the first time in my life.
Yay! Glad you found your home. I really dig Reclaiming, except there was a witch war with my local group a few years ago that turned me off them in particular. *sigh* (And, wow, someone else who knows of Feri?! You've been seeking pretty hard, I can tell. That's not well known even in neopagan circles.)

I think Dianic Wicca can be a good step along peoples' Path, but it's not a great final destination. I've found that some women really need that Wymmym Power energy and space for a time to shed their patriarchy baggage, but most who stay there for long are...not healthy.

Despite where it came from, I've found most Golden Dawn offshoots to be pretty egalitarian in practice, moreso than many Wiccan offshoots. There's still a strong binary on paper, but powerful learned people of multiple genders in equal or nearly equal representation in the hierarchy. But that could just be my locals.

Johanna
07-11-2012, 04:03 PM
I read once years ago that the godesses were worshipped before Gods came in to power. Archaeologists have found many small statues fom that time of female gods.
An excellent study of the subject is The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler (a refugee from Nazism). It's a controversial field because it gets attributed to "matriarchy"[by whom?] and then gets the counter-argument that there is no evidence of any human society having been a matriarchy. Eisler's take gets the subject out of that intellectual quagmire by showing how "matriarchy" was never the point of the pre-patriarchal era of the Goddess. Rather, it was a partnership society as opposed to a dominator society.

The concept of matriarchy simply replaces one dominator with another (to use the Latin term, a dominatrix—literally female dominator. How you feel about it in that light? :D) Eisler's reading of Goddess prehistory removed it from any kind of domination and situated it in the egalitarian concept of partnership society.

She presents archæological evidence for this from Minoan Crete, which was one of the last survivors of prehistoric Goddess egalitarianism. There were no huge differences in real estate value between the richest and the poorest residents. Moreover, the homes and buildings of the wealthy and powerful were mixed up in the same neighborhoods with the homes of the middle-income and poor. In contrast to the heavy socioeconomic disparity, stratification, and hierarchy evident in the city planning of authoritarian/warlike/patriarchal societies. (There were also no fortification walls in Minoan Crete, although perhaps it's been argued that the Minoan Navy was powerful enough to make them unnecessary. I dunno.)

Eisler coined the term gylany (from Greek gyne 'woman', lyein and lyo 'to solve, resolve; to dissolve, set free', andros 'man') for the partnership society she envisions in which men and women are really equal and neither dominates over the other. She says it's possible for humans because we already accomplished it in prehistory. Reclaiming Witchcraft, which I'm part of, is inspired in part by this gylanic theory and functions on it in praxis. I've seen it work.

Johanna
07-11-2012, 04:12 PM
Rather, the Greek etymon for 'man' is anēr. Sorry for repeating this error. I just missed the edit window.

Boozahol Squid, P.I.
07-11-2012, 05:18 PM
Rather, the Greek etymon for 'man' is anēr. Sorry for repeating this error. I just missed the edit window.

Both andros and aner are equally translatable as 'man', although the connotation of the latter is somewhat more masculine.

MrDibble
07-12-2012, 08:23 AM
She presents archæological evidence for this from Minoan Crete, which was one of the last survivors of prehistoric Goddess egalitarianism. There were no huge differences in real estate value between the richest and the poorest residents. Moreover, the homes and buildings of the wealthy and powerful were mixed up in the same neighborhoods with the homes of the middle-income and poor. In contrast to the heavy socioeconomic disparity, stratification, and hierarchy evident in the city planning of authoritarian/warlike/patriarchal societies. (There were also no fortification walls in Minoan Crete, although perhaps it's been argued that the Minoan Navy was powerful enough to make them unnecessary. I dunno.)I didn't know that about Crete. All you read about is the Palace, so I always assumed stratification. The Indus Valley Civilisation is egalitarian like this as well, as was the early Turkish settlements like Çatalhöyük. I know the latter also has "goddess" statues (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seated_Woman_of_%C3%87atalh%C3%B6y%C3%BCk), and of course the former has its "dancing girl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dancing_Girl_of_Mohenjo-daro.jpg)" and lots of other female figurines (http://www.harappa.com/figurines/slideindex.html).

Johanna
07-12-2012, 08:59 AM
WhyNot—thanks for the information. I avoid witch wars. If I see one coming, I head the other way. Sorry you didn't see the best out of my peeps wherever you're located. All I know is, in the mid-Atlantic region, the Reclaiming folks are awesome.

MrDibble—yeah, I love all that prehistoric stuff. Göbekli Tepe, a few hundred miles east of Çatalhöyük, is a Mesolithic site with the earliest evidence of both organized religion and grain cultivation, which it seems went together. Its archæology over its 3,500 years of occupancy literally bridges the Paleolithic and Neolithic. It pushes the origins of religion and agriculture back a couple thousand years than thought earlier. The iconography of the Anatolian Mother Goddess, a woman flanked with lions, holding a frame drum, is found beginning at Göbekli Tepe, also found at Çatalhöyük, historically attested by the Hittites, and adopted by the classical Greeks and Romans as Cybele, is consistent from the Mesolithic right through to the fall of Roman Paganism. She continued as Mary, but they took away her lions and drum. She was originally the Goddess of mountains, wild places, wild beasts.

Malthus
07-12-2012, 11:01 AM
WhyNot—thanks for the information. I avoid witch wars. If I see one coming, I head the other way. Sorry you didn't see the best out of my peeps wherever you're located. All I know is, in the mid-Atlantic region, the Reclaiming folks are awesome.

MrDibble—yeah, I love all that prehistoric stuff. Göbekli Tepe, a few hundred miles east of Çatalhöyük, is a Mesolithic site with the earliest evidence of both organized religion and grain cultivation, which it seems went together. Its archæology over its 3,500 years of occupancy literally bridges the Paleolithic and Neolithic. It pushes the origins of religion and agriculture back a couple thousand years than thought earlier. The iconography of the Anatolian Mother Goddess, a woman flanked with lions, holding a frame drum, is found beginning at Göbekli Tepe, also found at Çatalhöyük, historically attested by the Hittites, and adopted by the classical Greeks and Romans as Cybele, is consistent from the Mesolithic right through to the fall of Roman Paganism. She continued as Mary, but they took away her lions and drum. She was originally the Goddess of mountains, wild places, wild beasts.

I dunno if Göbekli Tepe is good evidence for this theory. I had occasion to read a recent paper (it's available in PDF form - Göbekli Tepe – the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus
on sculptures and high reliefs - from Documenta Praehistorica XXXVII (2010) at p. 246:

At Göbekli Tepe, distinctly feminine motifs are lacking
from both the animal and human images. There
is a single exception – a naked woman engraved on
a stone slab placed between the so-called lions’ pillars
(Schmidt 2006.235–237, Fig. 104) (Fig. 13). But
it seems clear that this depiction is not part of the
original decoration, but more probably belongs to a
group of engravings which can be classified as graffiti
(comp. pillar 10: Schmidt 2000.23, Fig. 10b).

You can see a picture of this image in the paper, and why it is described as "grafitti". It is crudely scratched, quite different in style to the other icons at the site (all, insofar as can be identified, male).

This isn't to say that the archaeology disproves that their society was egalitarian (relatively). At nearby sites, as the authors explain, clay figurines are equally male and female:

In
Nevalı Çori, in contrast, of the clay figurines that
have been found nowhere else in such abundance
– 700 in number – over 90% are anthropomorphic
objects, and male and female figures occur in equal
numbers (Morsch 2002). The complete absence of
clay figurines at Göbekli Tepe is most remarkable.
This surely reflects the different functions of the ritual
buildings at each location: while the buildings
of Göbekli Tepe have a possible connection with burial
customs, at Nevalı Çori, it is possible to examine
a village settlement and everyday life. The use of
clay as the material for the male and female figures
found here is not insignificant. The smaller stone figures
that were also discovered exhibit a completely
different and much richer iconographic repertoire
which repeats the stock of motifs associated with the
large stone sculptures and reliefs at Göbekli Tepe.

The notion that this site represents a continuity of a single goddess iconography over thousands of years is highly speculative at best.

The problem here is that the evidence is enegmatic. Firm conclusions should not be drawn from it.

Johanna
07-12-2012, 01:05 PM
The identical goddess Cybele is attested from Hittite times until the end of Roman Paganism. That's over 2,000 years of documentation. As for pre-literate cultures: The woman flanked by lions was found at Çatalhöyük predating the Hittites by some 5,000 years. Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions. Thanks for citing the examples from Nevalı Çori. Good call.

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