I have grown up in a country called India where multiple religions thrive together and have observed each of them through the years. I have also observed the way women have been treated by society in general.
Everything that is material or physical flows from the spiritual source. Our deep rooted beliefs, especially those propagated through religious conditioning are ultimately responsible for the way females are treated in society. No amount of legal stringency can help women unless our inner belief systems are examined and changed. Religion has the maximum impact on our inner belief system as for those who believe, the word of ‘God’ or their spiritual guru is of more importance than anything else.
In every religion that has been so far majorly popular on earth, females have had a much more understated role than male. The leaders of leading world religions are predominantly men. The chief religious books always describe God as He and Father. In India babas and swamis who fashion themselves to be spiritual leaders are mostly men. Even if a female is a hindu spiritual leader she is respected as Ma or mother, but the word God has still referred to the ‘father’ or He in principle for most people. It is the man who occupies prominent positions in Churches or Mosques or Gurdwaras or Temples. The female form if worshiped in temples has mostly been confined to goddess worship with the ultimate or superior One God or ‘God of all things’ being referred to in common language as male, He, Father and centuries of social conditioning has strengthened this inequality. We rarely recognize how deep rooted this social conditioning is and how it really affects the way females are treated all over the world but it is indeed a time to examine our basic and fundamental belief systems.
It has always baffled me why women are still followers of religious faiths that reduce their prominence and treat females as mere reproductive mothers and lower in rank to the male. From ‘burquas’ to ‘ghoonghat’ women have been conditioned to believe that their femininity is somehow embarrassing and that they need to hide their beautiful bodies if they want any respect in society. Bare chested men roam around fearlessly whereas women in certain sections of society are afraid to show even their face, leave alone legs, arms or cleavage.
Are most of our religions not responsible for this absolute inequality? Yet when a woman is brutally gangraped there are spiritual babas in India who comment that it must be the female’s fault and she should have pleaded to the rapists. This is one example of how limited our religions and spiritual traditions can be and how much transformation is needed right from the top.
What is rape after-all – but a physical assault intended to degrade or humiliate a female. As long as sex will be taboo and female will be regarded as ‘disrespectful’ if raped, men will dominate over women and crimes against women including rape will continue year after year in-spite of laws and modernization in the outer world. Female sexuality has to come our the the confines of male dominance. A woman’s sexuality is not unholy or un-sacred. It is absolutely normal. Her body is as normal as a male body and revealing her body can never be a sin as long as men can do so without any shame. Raping a female can never actually take away her dignity as it is the criminals who committed such acts who should be ashamed as they overpowered someone with their physical might and inflicted physical injury on the victim against her will. Why are females made to feel ashamed or petrified of ‘losing their respect’ in the form of rape, molestation, eve teasing, sexual abuse…A man who abuses a woman should be afraid of losing respect. Why the social stigma about female sexuality?
Why cannot we accept a goddess as a bold beautiful woman who is sexually attractive – such as Aphrodite who was worshiped in the past – once again? Why has the female divinity been reduced to just the mother form of female. Is a woman respectable only as a mother and never as a ‘woman’.
Why not accept women as spiritual leaders again – I am talking about witches – who once were held in high esteem – as high priestesses who lead others, heal others, teach others.
Why not refer to the ultimate God as Goddess and She and Maiden, Mother, Crone as Female?
Why not choose Wicca as your faith and be free of medieval mindsets? We all always have a choice.
Our society will have truly transformed when not just our outer but our inner world will change for the better.
Rev Swati Prakash (Head Priestess – Earth Healing Temple)