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the interconnectedness of marriage and religion (and they both fail women)

Marriage, since its initial conception, has been rife with problems. 

Christianity believes Eve, the first woman, was created from Adam’s rib, to be his ‘helper.’ Which is to say, that all women are meant to follow that. To be perfectly pliant to the needs, demands or whims of their husbands, fathers, brothers, any male in close proximity who presumes all authoritative power over her.  Eve prior to the fall is seen as pure and feminine. The perfect wife. When Eve becomes curious and seemingly independent, her image becomes that of a temptress. In some depictions, she is working with the serpent, she lures Adam to their downfall. She loses any semblance of innocence as she is assumed to be compliant with the devil, rather than equally his victim as Adam. After their exiling from the garden, she bears Adam two sons which is seen as her womanly duty to do so. This, after having them cast out of paradise, is the least she can do to make it up to him. There is not much else to Eve aside from this. She is the first woman, the first wife, first mother. And that is all. 

Marriage in relation to religion only serves to further fail women. Religion has been used in the past to justify the union of many people. Notably those in power, of course. And it comes to the shock of nobody that these past societies were deeply religious and usually, colonized whatever had been before it. In the case of some Native cultures, this trampling erased and uprooted several beliefs which were fluid in regards to gender and women’s rights. In their wake came the rigid, unyielding ones of typical colonial European nations. Under these strict and oppressive societal norms, women were conditioned into believing in things like ‘the female brain’ or that women were simply ‘built differently’ then men. All absurd notions which end in choices for women being incredibly limited. From this, naturally, spawns further misconceptions and beliefs. Ushered in is the housewife of the forties and fifties, the homemakers, the child-rearers. The women who were content with the hand they had been dealt. Betty Friedan, author of ‘The Feminine Mystique’ talks in length about these women. “Their only dream was to be perfect wives and mothers; their highest ambition was to have five children and a beautiful house. They only fight to get and keep their husbands. They had no thought for the unfeminine problems of the world outside the home; they wanted the men to make the major decisions”  These were not the women fighting for equal access to and pay in the workplace, for reproductive rights, for education, legal rights, the list is endless. These were women who bought into the religious ideals that a woman’s place is at her husband’s side. That her job was running her house, caring for her children, looking sweet and acting demurely for her husband. Pink collar jobs were barely passing by as acceptable. With little separation between the state and church, this is a rift between women we still are dealing with today. 

Go to any abortion protest and without a doubt you will find them. Holding signs and bibles, you will find the pro-life opposition made up of mostly men and older women. The signs will likely say something about how a child’s life is a gift from god or precious in some other way. They will condemn you to hell and spew other vile comments. These are the remnants left from these women. Anyone familiar with the right-wing-adjacent kinds of women might instantly recognize the following names. Girl Defined, the Transformed Wife, Debi Pearl. These are all women who have pushed for a ‘god-honoring’ lifestyle for women. Consider them modern mommy bloggers with an awful misogynistic twist. All of these women are married and make content which heavily centers around their lives, beliefs and how two intertwine. In the cases of Debi and Lori, they have written books and blog posts which describe how women should submit to their husbands always, justify marital rape and abuse, etc. The young women from Girl Defined make videos and use social media apps to target younger girls with a slew of harmful ideals. All of these women have countless issues in the content they create, from promoting victim-blaming rape culture to transphobia and homophobia to sexism. The content they create promises women a marriage where they are no better than a prisoner or slave and a life restricted to how their husband may or may not treat them. Who is to say they won’t marry someone who five months down the line begins to abuse them ? These women do not believe in divorce, or anything that permits women the freedom to live how they want really, and instead believe that girls need to realize what they are doing wrong to cause that reaction from their spouse.

citation

Betty Friedan “The Feminine Mystique” – https://via.hypothes.is/https://wgst1001.commons.gc.cuny.edu/wp-content/blogs.dir/17925/files/2021/08/Excerpt-From-The-Feminine-Mystique-The-New-York-Times.pdf

2 thoughts on “the interconnectedness of marriage and religion (and they both fail women)

  1. Dana Balakirova (She)

    Therefore, in a really prosperous and stable society, there is usually just one official state religion, which does not allow people to get confused in knowledge and in what “must be believed.” Therefore, earlier believers loved all sorts of campaigns for the faith, and therefore many religious leaders do not like gentiles and representatives of other religious movements so much.
    Each religion has its pluses and minuses, which in one way or another may act in our view of a person in the wrong way, as it may seem to us. For example, a person who belongs to Christianity will hardly be able to understand a person in the Muslim religion because these two faiths differ in their rules. Likewise, Christianity does not put too much pressure on physical punishment and practically does not limit the personality in development. But at the same time it shows that by overcoming your animal instincts, you will live much happier and more successful.

  2. Hilarie Ashton

    Ashley,

    You have some fantastic ideas in this piece, and your writerly voice is wonderful! Each paragraph was a pleasure to read, and your title is, frankly, stellar. You draw the reader in and keep their attention throughout, which is not always easy to do! “When Eve becomes curious and seemingly independent, her image becomes that of a temptress” is a particularly amazing sentence — smartly observed and beautifully put!

    Your structure is compelling, too. The shifts from the Bible to modern marriage to anti-abortion protests are smart and, again, really help keep the reader engaged and paying attention.

    Where you fall a bit short is with the use of evidence. The Friedan is great, but you could use her more, and you could include a citation for the blogs you mention in the third graf, too. (I also understand why you didn’t cite them in the text, though, and I think that makes sense for the flow of the piece — this sort of “not giving oxygen to hate” kind of logic.)

    Still, really stellar work here.

    I’m looking forward to your final project!

    Prof A

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