Gods and Goddesses


To begin, I must explain that I do not believe that patriarchal religiosity causes the violence and oppression of women. Although, I do argue that there may be a significant correlation. From a psychological standpoint, when examining well-known passages from religious texts, I came to the conclusion that these can be extremely influential to the behavior and beliefs of a large majority of individuals who follow these faiths. These passages prime the individuals in early adolescents to instill unconscious attitudes towards marriage, sexual relations, gendered roles and many other factors of the human experiences (LaBouff, Rowatt, Johnson , Thedford & Tsang, 2010). These are a few examples of westernized religious views that primarily worship a male deity:


denominations influenced by the Holy Bible (excerpts):

“The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” (Corinthians 7:4 New International Version)

“The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:22, New American Standard Version)

“David replied, "Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men's bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!" (21 Samuel 4:5 New International Version).


Islam and Muslim based Faith influenced by the Qur’an (translated excerpts):

“If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them of the teaching of God, then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them.” (Sura 4:34)

“Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please.” (Quran 2:223).

“Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other…” (Quran 4:34)


The deeply rooted idea of subservient women is continually mentioned throughout these holy texts. The most frightening factors arise when men and women believe that, in marriage, the partner has full control over their partner’s body. The prevalent issue of marital rape is extremely minimized because of these implications, while even remaining legal in various states (Allen, 2015). Also, women’s reproductive rights (abortions and birth control) are under continuous scrutiny by the Catholic Church since they believe that women do not have rights over their own body (Ruether, 2006). There are consistent reminders within the Qur’an that women are below men and may suffer abuse without hesitation. This sense of powerlessness and inferiority that is contrived by these notions is overwhelming. It is obvious that women take second place compared to men in these religious contexts and that can be difficult for many to realize.


Now, in addition to my clarification that patriarchal religiosity does not cause the oppression of women I must include that denominations that worship female deities are not without issues of their own. Religions that are structured in a more equalized way assist in creating a sense of power for everyone but they are not perfect. In some areas that experience heavy cultural influences, aside from religion, still have rampant rates of spousal abuse and sexual assaults. On the other hand, religions that are inclusive can be very inspiring to many men and women who seek a spiritual outlet. By allowing everyone to take part in gaining celestial power and representation, we can begin bettering societies with destructive patriarchal practices and create a prominent sense of equality.

Buddhism with influence from various texts:

“When practicing contemplation, They should wish that all beings see truth as it is And be forever free of oppression and contention” (Garland Sutra, 11).

“As a mother with her own life guards the life of her own child, let all-embracing thoughts for all that lives be thine.” (huddaka Patha, Metta Sutta)

““If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts, happiness follows them like a never-departing shadow.” (The Buddha, Dhammapada).


Wiccan beliefs from various texts, most notably the Gardnerian Book of Shadows:

Woman is totally equal to man (The Gardnerian Book of Shadows).

The Goddess gave birth to the universe so her essence is in everything (The Gardnerian Book of Shadows).

A divine Feminine and Masculine are worshipped. This is the belief that there is a balance (The Gardnerian Book of Shadows)..


Hinduism with influence from multiple texts:

“O Brahma, lead us from the unreal to the real. O Brahma, lead us from darkness to light. O Brahma, lead us from death to immortality… Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Om.” (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad).

“O Mother Ganga, may your water , abundant blessing of the world , treasure of Lord Shiva, playful lord of all earth , essence of the scriptures and embodied goodness of the gods , May your water, sublime wine of immortality, soothe our troubled souls,” (Ganga Lahiri).

“The whole mantram AUM indivisible, interdependent, goes on reverberating in the mind. Established in this cosmic vibration, enter into infinite peace.” (Prashna Upanishad)


Now, again I must emphasize that these religions are not perfect and need to continue advancing in equality. A wonderful example of this is a study done of Sri Lanka (heavily Buddhist area), looking at the prevalence of intimate partner violence. It highlighted that men were still perpetrating this crime but also explained that sexual assault rates were minimal (5%), dowry was not required and child marriages were not common (Jayasuriya, 2011). Buddhism is not the sole cause of these outcomes but do highlight a similar correlation as with the “Gods” religiosity discussed previously. Also, with Hinduism being one of the largest religions worldwide, areas heavily influenced by this still have their fair share of oppression towards women. The most notable country being India (Singh, 2014). Areas like these still struggle with gender inequalities but some have made some progress. Further into Wiccan practices, it can be said that women have an extensive amount of power, with the downfall of discrediting the male deity into a subordinate role. Although this works against perfect equality, it helps female empowerment and inspiration.


LaBouff, J.P, Rowatt, W.C., Johnson, M.K., Thedford, M., Tsang, J.A. (2010 September 1). Development and initial validation of an implicit measure of religiousness-spirituality. Journal For the Scientific Study of Religion, 49(3), 439-455. DOI: 10.1111/j. 1468-5906.2010.01521.x.

Allen, S. (2015 June 9). Marital rape is semi-legal in 8 states. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/09/marital-rape-is-semi-legal-in-8- states.html

Ruether, R.R. (2006 May). Women, reproductive rights and the church. Catholics for choice. Retrieved from http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/issues_publications/women-reproductive-rights-and-the-church-2/.

Jayasuriya V., Wijewardena K., Axemo P. (2011). Intimate partner violence against women in the capital province of Sri Lanka: Prevalence, risk factors, and help seeking. Violence Against Women, 17(8), 1086-1102.

Singh, N.K. (2014 June). Violence against women in India. International Journal of Research & Development in Technology and Management Science – Kailash, 21(3), 110-118.


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