THIS ARTICLE WILL probably be the first one that some people will pick out from the Contents to read; fascinating subject, isn't it?
The principal religions of the World―Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam―have always been, and still are, male dominated; they consider women inferior to men, and give them lower positions. Some changes are slowly taking place to this attitude in Christianity, largely because it is a 'Western' religion, and women in the West are much more aware of their 'rights' than women in other parts, but they are minor changes, and we can never imagine a female Pope. In the other religions, there is little evidence of even this much change, however, and this is especially surprising in the case of Buddhism, which advocates but does not always practice equality.
Why women do not question more the treatment they have received and suffered under male-made religion, and demand nothing less than equal treatment is a mystery, for without their vital role, the human race would soon become extinct. It would be well for the Popes and other leaders of religion―and in fact men generally―to recall that their mothers are/were all women, and that women form half the total population of the world.
Now, anyone who suggests that men and women are equal is severely deluded; they are not equal, but different and each has roles to play that the other cannot play. There is no question about being equal. However, we can, with a little understanding, try to treat each other equally and fairly, be we male or female, just as we like others to treat us. And if religions were firmly based on this principle, and it were widely observed instead of believed, there would be far less conflict and confusion in the world than there is; that's for sure.
But before we can bring about some change in this direction, we must understand something of how the existing state of things has come into being. Are there any valid natural reasons why women should be regarded as in any way inferior to men? If anything, childbearing should make them superior, because although the part of the male in this is indispensable, his contribution is very brief, and the woman is left to carry the burden.
Superstition and male fear and envy of women's unique ability to bring forth new life have caused women to be relegated to a lower position and sadly, most of them have accepted this with little more than an occasional whimper until now. Is there nothing they can do about it short of abandoning religion altogether, as many women as well as men have already done? Of course there is! Men need women, do they not? I don't mean in just a sexual sense, and for the sake of reproduction, but without women―who are, in general, the main supporters― organized religion would soon wither away. Anyone who has been to Thailand, for example, and gone out in the early morning, will probably have noticed that it is the women rather than the men who wait outside their homes to offer food to the monks as they come along with their alms-bowls. No women, no monks; it's as simple as that.
Now, let us talk a little about sex. In this time of AIDS, the facade from behind which we used to view it has been rudely torn away, and we cannot afford to be coy about it now. We are sexual beings, and the sexual or creative urge is very strong. People do it; we've all come through it; thank goodness the old taboos about the subject have gone―or largely gone―and we can talk about it today.
Oh, we have always talked about it, but mostly as a secret or dirty thing, something to joke about, and not as a thing to be discussed in polite company. In the Victorian era, it was unmentionable, but large families were the rule rather than the exception; obviously action was more important than the word. And it is now being said―and written―which gives it more credence, though we certainly should not believe everything that is written or said, and that is why I have qualifyingly written "it is said"―that Queen Victoria, Empress of India and the Dominions, and titular head of the largest empire the world has ever seen, had several lovers after the death of her husband, including one of her Indian servants. She is also said to have requested to be buried with a lock of hair and a photograph of her Scottish attendant, her final beau!
It is claimed of Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, that she conceived her son without help from his father. Well, knowledge of biology and anatomy was scant in ancient times, and claims of supernatural births were quite common; Mary was not unique in this. Mahamaya, the mother of Prince Siddhartha, who later became the Buddha, was also said to have conceived in a miraculous way, and― one up on Mary― to have given birth to her son from her side, instead of in the ordinary manner!
In spite of what I might say about this, many people will continue to cling onto these 'gilded lily’ stories. Well, I don't remember it, but my mother told me that I was brought by a stork. Does that make me a storkling? No wonder I have a long nose!
The Jewish/Christian Bibles― and the Hindu scriptures, too― have certified childbirth as something dirty, impure, and therefore shameful. In the book of Leviticus of the Old Testament, Chapter 12, it is written:
1. And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying:
5. But if she bare a maid-child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation; and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying three score and six days.
6. And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregational, unto the priest:
7. Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
8. And if she not be able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean."
How many points of gross and cruel superstition can you, dear reader, find here? How strange― how ridiculous! ― that even after 4,000 years, we are still being affected by them! They have conditioned our collective attitude towards women, for one thing; for another, they have instilled in people the baseless and horrific belief that sin can be washed away by blood; they also show Dracula in a more favorable light as compared with the bloodthirsty God of the Bible, Jehovah. There are other points, too; do some homework yourself, and try to find them.