Gender Roles and Religion

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Gender and religion in the postmodern era are entirely different from the modern and pre-modern era. In the premodern era, these topics had strict principles that everyone was aware of and followed. Due to the Women’s Rights Movement, relativism, and pluralism, western society strayed away from the original principles of gender and religion and blossomed into a new outlook on the two topics. The strict gender roles that were presented in the premodern era stemmed from the original sin. The bible states that Eve was created from Adam’s rib and, due to eating the forbidden fruit, was to blame for man’s expulsion from paradise.

Medieval art often portrayed the original sin by giving a female head to a serpent who then tempts Eve to disobey God. the story caused people to believe that women were inferior to men and that they were weaker morally and likely to tempt man to sin. Throughout the premodern era, the place of women in society was depicted by various biblical texts. During the premodern era, men and women had specific roles and they were to stick to them. Very few women worked in medieval times. However, when they did they did jobs such as nursing, writing, weaving, baking, and spinning.

Many also worked next to their husbands on their land, however, they did not get any recognition from doing this. Women didn’t make nearly as much money as men and had to work several jobs to earn the same wage as them. The roles for premodern women were to look after the house, cook, and take care of the children and their husbands. The role of a wife vital and they were expected to tend to their husbands needs regardless of the circumstances. Premodern women did not have access to equal rights as they do now. The only way a woman would have the same rights as men is if she was unmarried and inherited a large amount of land from family. Although as soon as they marry they are forced to surrender their land to their husbands.

Women were not permitted to choose whether or not they marry or have children and were also unable to vote. In addition, most premodern women did not have access to education and many were also unable to work. On the other hand, women who chose to be nuns had access to basic education complementary to their Christian devotion. Lastly, premodern women had strict boundaries as to what clothes they could wear. Women’s fashion in the premodern era was nondescript and bland. Their clothing consisted of draped fabrics which baggy and dull colors.

In Europe, Italy and France women were becoming more fashionable by wearing tight-fitting clothing and using more attractive fabrics. Women elsewhere weren’t fashionable until much later on. In addition to this, premodern women often wore what their husbands wanted them to instead of wearing what they liked to wear. Married women wore their hair down while unmarried women wore their hair up as a sign of humility. The role of a premodern male was significantly different to that of a female. Men were seen as the breadwinners and as the most important people in the family. In the same way, they were considered the most important members of society and were well respected.

Women sought to please men and were subservient to their needs. Men were not expected to tend to their children or their homes as this was the work of a woman. The social status of a premodern male was determined by how much land he owned and his wealth because wealth dictated your position on the social hierarchy. The life of a peasant male was often difficult as they were more than likely employed as servants for the rich. Most rich men did work as they relied on the money generated from their land or money inherited from ancestors to make up their income.

Common jobs for middle class and poor men included working on the land and farming, while richer men were knights or employed in the court. Wealthy men had more rights than poor men and women together. They were a huge part of society and had a voice in major votes and decisions. Premodern men also had the right to choose whether or not they wanted children. The modern and postmodern era had an extremely different view of gender roles. Postmodernists and modernists began to break away from the original roles and celebrated diversity.

The role of the female has evolved enormously since medieval times. Today, it is common for a woman to balance her work life and home life. Modern women began to pursue careers that were earlier meant for men. These include being a doctor, politician or a lawyer. The changes in gender roles are evident today. While women are accepting of the man’s gender role, the same does not always hold true for men. This is because while men are welcomed to take on a domestic job by their counterparts, the same effort by a woman in the professional field is still seen as a threat to the male supremacy.

Domestic life has almost become impossible without flexible gender roles. Women are working late hours while men work in the kitchen. The trends have changed as men take on jobs such as fashion designers and chefs and women take on jobs such as astronauts and pilots. Old behaviors and attitudes have changed with the increase of women in the workplace. In addition to this, women are no longer allowed to be discriminated against in the workplace and are by law able to have any job if they are qualified for it. The Women’s Rights Movement is responsible for this change.

The organization was created around the question of suffrage in the modern era after the civil war. After years of work many things changed. The 19th amendment was ratified giving women the right to vote, women had the freedom to birth control, abortions were legalized, and they gained access to employment and education. Western society examined women’s role in society and its long-held views about women. Religion in the middle ages was dominated by Christianity. During the premodern era, the Catholic church was the only church in Europe. The leading roles in the government were in the hand of the bishop and church leaders. Premodernists entire lives were dominated by the church and because of this, the church gained wealth and power.

Within the Christian matrix there were two deeply embedded convictions. The first was the belief in inherent sinfulness. They believed that humans were permanently tainted by the original sin and that humans can not help but sin. Even the most extreme attempts to avoid sin will fail. The second conviction was the belief in supernatural activity. This stemmed from the belief that humans were so sinful that there could be no conception of human rights or freedom because if they had rights and freedom society would completely unravel. It was thought that sinfulness distorts our senses and that we can’t trust our own observations or senses because of that. Due to these convictions, you were required to regularly confess your sins to the ordained priest.

Complementary to that, premodernists believed that one can never be forgiven for all their sins and because of this many people will spend time in purgatory after they die to burn off their sins before they enter heaven. Postmodernism led to relativism which is the idea that all truths are relative. This means that what is right for one group may not be true or right for another. An example of this is sexual morality. Christianity teaches that sex before marriage is wrong. A postmodernist would say that such an opinion can pertain to Christians but not to those who don’t follow Jesus Christ.

Postmodernist rejected the bible due to the rejection of the absolute truth. In Christianity, God is the source of the absolute truth. In John 14:6 Jesus Christ claims to be the absolute truth by saying “ I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” postmodernists not only deny that God is the absolute truth, but they also disregard his statement that he is the only way to heaven.

Today Christianity is seen as arrogant to those who believe there are many ways to get to heaven. This is called pluralism, the view that all religions are equally valid. In the modern era, freedom of religion was added to the constitution of the United States which formed a secular government. In the postmodernism era, all religions including Christianity, are reduced to a simple opinion. In conclusion, gender and religion have changed a lot since the premodern era. What was once strict gender roles and a strict Christian lifestyle is now leaning towards the side of equality and freedom of religion. Women have the same rights and abilities as men while one religious practice is just as valuable as another. The Women’s Rights Movement, pluralism, and relativism all influence the drastic changed between the premodern, modern, and postmodern era.

Cite this paper

Gender Roles and Religion. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/gender-roles-and-religion/

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