Overlooked consequences of organized religion can be harmful to women

Autumn Kunkel and Autumn Kunkel

When I was 5 years old, I began to learn the ways of Catholicism.

My family did their best to instill their values; I learned the sign of the cross, memorized many prayers and regularly attended church.

At that time, I lived and breathed the religion.

Even from a young age, however, one detail about the institution stuck out to me: women were not allowed to hold leadership positions in the Church.

Specifically, I noticed, they were not allowed to become priests, one of the highest positions one could have. Upon inquiring about why this was so, I was simply told that “men represent Jesus better.”

Those four words, though said to me at a young age, stuck with me for the rest of my life. As the years have passed, as my education has increased and as my beliefs have changed significantly, I’ve come to realize how damaging that teaching was to my development as a young woman in society.

What’s more, I’ve become more aware of what organized religion has done to women on the whole, and I can’t say the overall effect has been positive.

When I was a child, I whole-heartedly believed everything that was taught to me about Catholicism.

Though I did ask a lot of questions, I tended to accept the answers, no matter how dubious they seemed.

This is where the damage lay; I was generally unaffected by the sexist comment which seemed to justify a lack of female representation in the Church.

I simply accepted it as truth, ingraining in me from a young age a sense of what my “place” was as a female, an unequal counterpart to a male not only in society, but in the religious community which I was supposed to unreservedly accept.

Today, with my increased age, as well as education, I’ve come to denounce all organized religion and have chosen to live my life as an atheist.

That doesn’t stop me, however, from being exceedingly fascinated with – and disheartened by – the fact that, even in modern times, women are still so fervently oppressed by religion, ranging from that of subtle control to blatant discrimination.

All over the world, the U.S. included, women are hushed, restricted and in some extreme cases even killed, all in the name of a deity.

This could be due to a simple verse from a holy text, or a newly implemented rule brought forth by a religious institution.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that religion does not always favor females.

Even if many individuals practicing a certain religion are egalitarian-minded and see women as completely equal to their male counterparts, that does not mean that organized religion on the whole is not intrinsically sexist.

With the blatant institutionalized suppression found among most of the modern religions – the lack of strong female leaders, all of the rules regarding women’s bodies and even the demonizing of female sexuality – it’s obvious that women are still fiercely disregarded even in their dedication to a belief system.

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