Religion and Patriarchy: Gendered Inscriptions on Religious Beliefs and Practices
Religion, being one of the greatest identity markers of human beings along with other social factors such as caste, class and ethnicity, its role in the construction of gender identity is critically examined in this chapter. This is done by reading the experiences of Catholic Syrian Christian women using a feminist lens. Religious doctrines, beliefs and practices serve to translate to everyday experiences the patriarchal ideologies that legitimize and reinforce the existing gender hierarchy. Gendered consciousness acquires a normative value in the lives of women and men through religious indoctrination which affirms man’s position as the ‘head’ of the family, and consequently idealizes and glorifies submission as the characteristic mark of ‘womanliness’. This has a hegemonic impact on women as it normalizes their subordination as divinely ordained. Consequently, patriarchy persists despite women’s higher ranking in gender development indices mainly because it is mediated by religion.