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Why Are Women So Willing To Give In To Religious Dogma And Subject Themselves To The Degradations Often Inflicted Upon Them?


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Why Women Are Bound to Religion: An Evolutionary Perspective

by R. Elisabeth Cornwell, PhD

 

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Religion and Cultural Norms

 

It is not my purpose here to discuss the relationship between religion and culture, but I will suggest that, for as long as written history has existed, cities, states, and empires have enlisted the help of religious leaders, and religious leaders have relied on the protection of the state. This is true of all the major religions of today, with no exception.

 

Religion is a human invention, the gods and goddesses that have come and gone during our short history have all displayed the best and (more often) worst human traits. They fell in love, jealousy was common, revenge, anger and trickery prevailed, the struggle for power was universal, and all could be brought to folly and woe due to excessive hubris, greed, and lust. Soap operas pale in comparison! What concerns me, though, is that religion reflected the culture of the times - and, for better or worse, the religions most prominent today are all rather ancient beasts that grew out of a time when women were subservient to men, and often considered as property to be bartered, battered, and controlled.

 

So we are back to our original question: Why do women today continue to fall victim to an archaic system of beliefs that foster misogynistic behavior? Why are women even more likely to be religious than men? The simple answer is that it is safe. Please don't take this as a slight against women -- it isn't. Male/female differences exist, but I'm certainly not suggesting that risk taking is a better option than playing it safe. After all, women are less likely than men to die doing incredibly stupid things (check out the Darwin Awards it is nearly exclusively male 'winners'). But the fact that women are less likely to push the status quo for fear of social exclusion and even retribution makes a lot of evolutionary sense.

 

I acknowledge that some women have in fact taken extraordinary risks and have paid the ultimate price. And I am not saying that the majority of men will risk everything in order to achieve a particular goal. But we are looking at general trends, and men overall take more risks.

 

Religion and Kinship

 

Religion creates the illusion of kinship, and kinship is crucial to a woman's reproductive success. Even today, single mothers (and fathers) who receive support from family often avoid many of the pitfalls that single parents without support endure. Family support reduces stress through emotional support as well as practical support, and throughout the last 100,000 years would have been a critical factor in raising an infant to reach reproductive age.

 

The instant support group that religious institutions offer remains today. Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques offer immediate female fictive kin (assumed family). Raising a child, with or without a partner, is a difficult and daunting task. Women, especially new mothers, seek out other women for advice, encouragement, and support. Certainly, women who were raised with a religious upbringing would be more likely to become dependent on these intimate social relationships with other women. This inter-dependency taps into deep psychological needs, and being excluded from it would trigger a very primal fear response.

 

In order for women to abandon religion and its securities, there needs to be something tangible to replace the support that it offers. This is especially true in small and/or insular communities where one could face being shunned by family and friends. And in some parts of the world, abandonment of belief would bring a death sentence to be carried out by family members. Women traditionally have had the strongest ties to family compared to men: thus breaking those ties will be more difficult and more psychologically painful. While nobody has done a specific study of atheism and women, it is easy to guess that those women who have been raised in more traditional religious homes, with family and religion closely tied together, are most likely to fear of rejection and isolation if they announce their lack of faith. Some manage to break through, but not without significant loss. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book, Infidel, shows the strength and courage it takes to leave one's faith and family. The psychologist Jill Myton also reveals not only her own struggles against religious indoctrination, but also documents the struggles of others who left one of the most secretive and exclusive religious cults in the West (see interview)...

Read the Whole Article Here

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Some women are raised to believe they are the bottom of the pile in everything they do. They are raised brow-beaten and they look for others to continue brow-beating them because that is the way they were raised.

 

My wife came from a religiously nutso family, really friggin' NUTS!, she was married twice before. Her parents chose her husband, twice from the same church. I was her third marriage and the only one out of three that lasted more than six months! Women are very definitely controlled by the church but more so by their families. When I met my wife, her parents controlled her check book and gave her an allowance from her own paycheck. It took my wife many years to overcome her connection with her family and their weirdo church.

 

I think more women are afraid to lose that family tie than they are of being divorced.

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I agree that many females are taught to be dependent in more conservative churches. Some are only allowed to move out of their parents' house when they move in with their husbands on their wedding night. Males, on the other hand, aren't quite so controlled. It's like the females are not ever truly allowed to grow up. These same churches sponsor women's bible study, and other women's groups to keep the females brain washed.

 

Great article, it makes perfect sense.

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Interesting perspective. I have heard it before, but my one beef is that everyone assumes women go into religion because they are so called more emotional than men. Well can someone please explain to me why most pastors, priests, youthleaders, and music pastors are MEN???

Obviously men are drawn into it as well. Someone who has an interest in ethology once told me that religious women are more likely to be sexually submissive too because of their relationship with an alpha authority figure, ie. god, or the pastor.

 

I can see that religion hooks people into it by emotional responses. It still doesn't explain why there are still a lot of men involved in it too. Those christian families have the men with them too in church..so go figure?

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That women are generally more emotional than men may be an assumption, but it does have some grounding in observation. That's not to say women can't be logical, nor that there aren't individual women who are more logic-inclined than most men. It's simply a generalization which - as is the case with all generalizations - isn't always true but which does have some basis in reality.

 

The reason most religious authority figures are men couldn't be more simple: most modern religions are patriarchal organizations. Men "rule" because they're supposed to.

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Makes sense.

 

I've been noticing a "link" between women who choose to be childfree and rejection of religion.

 

After all, if women like me will not need that social support group for intended breeder-ism...why bother pretending to eat shit and like it?

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Makes sense.

 

I've been noticing a "link" between women who choose to be childfree and rejection of religion.

 

After all, if women like me will not need that social support group for intended breeder-ism...why bother pretending to eat shit and like it?

 

White Raven, I have noticed this as well. In fact, I chose to be childfree first and rejection of religion came soon (a few years) thereafter.

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Are women more emotional than men? I know a lot of men like to think so. Sure, women feel freer to cry. I've seen male toddlers being told not to "cry like a little girl." But remember that violence is the result of emotion, and which gender is more violent? In fact, if men are so logical, what's with all the countless wars that have been fought all through human history?

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Male chimps beat the crap out of female chimps, and will even used improvised weapons (tree branches, etc.) to do it. Though we aren't descended of chimps. I think the bonobos are pretty egalitarian (now those little fuckers know how to live!), but we aren't descended of them either.

 

Well, the male apes aren't necessarily meaner, but they're bigger. The biggest meanest ape in the group grabs a log and *WHAM* keeps his subordinates in line, male or female.

 

Society emerged when we acquired the ability to communicate symbolically. The higher ape's makeshift cudgel was no longer simply an instrument of brute force and the naked will to dominate. Suddenly, the cudgel (phallus?) acquired a whole new symbolism.

 

"Me hit you with club because mammoth god say it are good. *GRUNT*" So it's no longer just an asshole ape imposing his will because he's big, mean, and strong enough to. The asshole ape justifies his actions by constructing potent cultural symbols with which to wrap himself and his actions up in.

 

The club becomes wrapped up in humanly constructed legitimation that reaches as high as the heavens.

 

So why are wars started and fought by men? Because back in time immemorial, men stacked the deck so that they would be in charge physically, and later symbolically/formally. They start wars because they're in charge of the armies, and they fight in the armies because they don't want to be called pussies.

 

Well, I once helped on a research project with barroom/nightclub violence. Much of the time guys slug it out because they're expected to. And they even have to look good while doing it; landing punches like a boxer and everything, instead of flailing like a sissy or hairpulling and scratching. And there's a long list of offenses that they're expected to respond to with violence. Girls, it's a little different. They are discouraged from being physically violent, and it's ingrained in them practically from infancy. So they only engage in physical violence when they go "over the edge" emotionally. That's why bouncers say girl fights are nastier than guy fights, as a general rule. It's because the girls won't resort to it until there's been some kind of emotional explosion and they fly completely off the handle.

 

So they fight much less frequently yet with much more rage/emotion than guys do. But wait, there's more! It's not because they're more emotional, or intrinsically less violent, or less angry. It's because of gender socialization that they won't fight unless their emotions finally drive them to it, after trying to defer that option as much as they can. They'll get just as pissed as the guys do, and for mostly the same reasons... they just will hold it in for a hell of a lot longer until it explodes. Whereas guys are often expected to throw down whether they want to or not, whether there is emotion/drive/desire behind their action or not, in order to maintain their status.

 

Ever known the timid nerdy guy back in school who would never fight because he's too scared or lacking in fighting skills, but one day the bullies finally fuck with him too much for too long that he finally snaps and goes totally ape shit? Same kinda thing.

 

Also, other aggression studies have shown that women will more likely express aggression via subversive passive-aggressive means rather than outright violent chest-thumping/fist-swinging. Any "evolutionary psychological" studies of this must take this into account (gender socialization), as well as cross-cultural data produced by anthropologists. For example, there have been primitive societies out there where the women are more violent than men and are constantly getting in nasty honor duels while the men are more passive and kind of swishy and catty.

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Also, other aggression studies have shown that women will more likely express aggression via subversive passive-aggressive means rather than outright violent chest-thumping/fist-swinging. Any "evolutionary psychological" studies of this must take this into account (gender socialization), as well as cross-cultural data produced by anthropologists. For example, there have been primitive societies out there where the women are more violent than men and are constantly getting in nasty honor duels while the men are more passive and kind of swishy and catty.

 

How very true. Women are the masters of the truly snide, hurtful comment. Its quite amazing how hostile they can be, in a low key way, and carry on for years like that. Social exclusion and subtle stuff. My co-workers come to mind.

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VC,

 

Very informative. This gender socialization might be cause to why men can't understand women too! :HaHa: If they resolve issues and power-struggle through passive-aggressive behavior and manipulation, no wonder we get so confused. They're not supposed to fight (according to social construct) so they find other ways of getting what they want, while guys are expected to go to bat, so they have learned to be more outspoken, or direct. Do you think it got some truth to it?

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I've had to deal with several passive-aggressive, manipulative coworkers through the years, and they were not predominantly male or female. I stand by my original point. Men are just as controlled by their emotions as women are. The idea that women are more emotional has kept them for years from having equal rights. It still goes on today in many Muslim countries. It's bullshit and it needs to stop.

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I've had to deal with several passive-aggressive, manipulative coworkers through the years, and they were not predominantly male or female.

 

Were you working inside an air-conditioned office?

 

Iron workers will fight at the drop of a hat. Up in the Bay Area when they're working on the bridges, they'll drop their tools right there on the barge and start slugging it out, not caring about the possibility of drowning if one or both of them goes over the edge. Social class has a lot to do with it as well, along with setting. Stick an iron worker in your office and one of the biggest reasons they would loathe it is because they don't have the liberty of pounding the ever-loving shit out of the first guy that looks at them sideways or says something snide.

 

I can kind of identify. I'm in genteel egghead settings now, but I was raised in a redneckish suburb of L.A. by a crusty old cop. When I was a kid he would call me a "pussy" if I came home crying with a black eye and hadn't at least fought back, and he would always tell me that even if I got expelled from the school district I wouldn't be in trouble with him as long as I'd stood my ground like a man worthy of his balls, etc. etc. Nowadays, every once in a while some upper middle class type of guy with a name like "Elliot" will snipe at me and I'll grit my teeth to keep from blurting out "parking lot motherfucker, you and me." An evil, angry glare must suffice.

 

Well, that's also a big part of the reason why working class guys join the Army and the Marines, especially the Marines. Us Mexicans are a notoriously macho, street-fightin' lot. We're just over half the nation's Hispanic population, so that makes us about 6% of the population at the most. And yet Mexican-Americans make up 19% of the Marine Corps. I remember when I was in junior college, I ran into an old high school buddy on the bus. He had just gone to the Marine recruiter's office and he was boasting about all the bad-ass shit he was gonna do and about how he was going to become more bad-ass than he already was. Then he said this to me: "I'm joining the fucking Marines, and you're going to college like a faggot." Typical....

 

Oh, and there's also a reason that warmongering Presidents and would-be Presidents from upper class backgrounds -- Bush and McCain, respectively -- go around pretending to be regular ol' working class guys. It was the same reason that Atilla the Hun would always wear the garb of a common soldier and eat off a wooden plates while his banquet guests would eat off of golden plates.

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Ever known the timid nerdy guy back in school who would never fight because he's too scared or lacking in fighting skills, but one day the bullies finally fuck with him too much for too long that he finally snaps and goes totally ape shit? Same kinda thing.

 

I was that guy (I mean, girl).

 

There was this guy in school who was three times my size that fucked with me for yearrrrsss. One day on the bus I just couldn't take it anymore, I stood up, looked up at him, and punched him square in the face. They had to pull me off of him, and I gave him a bloody nose and a black eye. I got kicked off the bus and suspended, but nobody ever bothered me again. Hah. (he also never really scared anyone again because it was quickly common knowledge that nerdy Angela kicked his ass on the buss)

 

Anyway...

 

I think a lot of the main question has to do with the way many women are raised. They're brought up to be more nurturing and spiritual, and religion and mysticism goes along with that kind of thing. I've noticed that it's mainly women who follow the zodiac so closely as well because they like the idea of the stars having something to do with their destiny (or some nonsense like that) or something.

 

Also, many christian women are raised from the time they are young girls to submit to the man who becomes their husband. Be a demure, timid little helpmate, and don't question his authority if you want jebus to wub you. If the man is a christian (probably due to childhood indoctrination), she'll be right there with him because it's her womanly duty.

 

:Doh:

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Islam amazes me. A man can divorce his wife just by saying it 3 times. A woman is worth half a man in court. In Pakistan, a quarter of women in jail are there because they have been raped and so are judged guilty. A man and woman commit adultery, the man gets a slap on the wrist, the woman gets stoned to death.

 

Worst of all is the idea that a woman can only get to paradise if her husband lets her. That is why some muslim women become bombers, with the threat that their husband will condemn them to hell if they don't. A man gets 72 virgins in paradise. A woman gets......? I suppose someone has to keep the place clean, do the washing and cook the meals.

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Don't those guys who fight get fired?

 

They'd be too short on iron workers if they shit-canned every last guy who got in a fight. Other than repeat offenders who can't take the hint, the answer is more or less no.

 

Or worse, go to jail?

 

Not really. I think the damage would have to be awfully serious (we're talking lots of medical bills) for one of those guys to swallow their pride enough to where they'd press charges.

 

No good can come of all that macho idiot crap.

 

Probably not.

 

Someone could get killed.

 

That's less likely than the job itself killing them, if we're talking about iron workers. A big part of the reason why they're notoriously aggressive is the job itself.

 

Then you have cowboys and oil workers. They're out there all sweaty and miserable for days and days on end (weeks in some instances) with nobody but cows or each other for company. And when they finally come back to town, their bank accounts swollen with the latest paychecks, and itchin' for some release....

 

Not much logic in that behavior.

 

Nope.

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I always figured it was because women ( at least as it seems to me ) tend to be more afraid of getting socially ostracized, and are thus more likely to go through with following up with the status quo. The idea of being a complete outcast is more terrifying then the idea of being a second class citizen.

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