These three religions include Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In critiquing these three religions Mathieu poses a series of questions. How are gender roles in society allocated? Why would any woman choose to adhere to gender stereotyping and how could any reasonable woman believe in the gods associated with the religions listed above?
Although Mathieu states that there is no specific or definite manner in which to decipher gender roles within society, certain methods are employed. For instance, individuals are expected to perform certain tasks, like mowing the lawn or setting the table once they've reached a certain age. Yet another aspect employed in deciphering gender roles is ability. Individuals with a greater intellectual capasity will not be expected to perform any task involving hard labor. Still the most significant standard used in determining which individuals will perform which task is gender. Furthermore, males must perform a specific set of tasks, as do females.
Women must occupy a certain space in society. Traditionally, women were only permitted to hold jobs as teachers, maids, or secretaries. Why is it that any woman would adhere to this type of gender stereotyping? Mathieu states that it is instilled in the minds of women that they must occupy these roles. Every aspect of society including everything from television to toys supports this very idea. However, the most significant factor in this aspect is religion. Religion opts to maintain the subordinate role of women
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as described by Mathieu, are the three male-chauvinist religions, which employ the religious subordination of women. These three religions are related in that each involves the practice of monotheism, employs the use of a sacred book, characterizes God as male, and places an emphasis on compassion and status as a major world religion. Whether the holy book is the Bible, the Tenakh, or the Qur'an, each serves to reinforce the subordination of women. As in Christianity the sins of mankind are blamed wholly upon the female. This is evident in the story of Adam and Eve, in which Eve's actions (eating of the tree of knowledge) anger God whereby, initiating the punishment of mankind. Still in Jewish synagogue, women are seated in an area enclosed by a screen. This demonstrates the presence of gender segregation even within the place of worship. It is certain that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are indeed unfair, but how is it that they are so widely accepted?
How on earth could a reasonable woman maintain faith in the Gods associated with these religions if they are set on keeping them in an inferior position? Mathieu relates this question to the amount of power that males hold within these religions. It is the males who set the rules, thus the rules are often in favor of the male gender. One significant example lies in the fact that women were often forbidden the chance to educate themselves. This destroyed any chance of women ever interpreting the scriptures of the holy books themselves. Another factor was the manner in which God was presented in these holy books. Mathieu states that a biased, male chauvinist god would not have been so widely excepted nor would it have commanded as much devotion.
The basis for Deborah Mathieu's viewpoint is concisely the following matter. Society is sexist. This fact is generally reinforced by the types of toys children play with. Little girls must play with Barbie, whereas little boys must play with G.I. Joe. This manner of thinking is widely spread. Women must be child rearers and housewives, whereas men must be lawyers and doctors. Furthermore, religion is a major factor in governing the gender roles within society. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the three religions, which are most successful at confining women to inferior positions. The purpose of religion is to give the follower a sense of hope and faith. Unfortunately, when religion is employed to support sexism within society, this very purpose is undermined.
I am in agreement with Mathieu on this issue. I too believe that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam support sexism within society. From my standpoint, Christianity cannot be wholly critiqued. Some aspects of the Bible do seem a bit sexist and unfair to the female audience, but despite this evidence Christianity remains a successful world religion.