What Women Are Like Ideology and Religion

What is the role of ideology in determining women's status? And why do beliefs about women's "true nature" and "natural place" vary cross-culturally? Such beliefs are not free floating and random but are related to women's actual roles in society. For example, the ideology that depicts women as immature and requiring male protection and supervision is associated with the domestic isolation of women which, in turn, is related to the rise of intensive agriculture and the state (Quinn, 1977).

Given the link between actual roles and ideology, under what conditions do ideologies of male dominance arise? Rogers (1975) suggests that such ideologies need not reflect women's low status but may instead occur when women do, in fact, have a good deal of economic importance, personal autonomy, and influence within the domestic realm. The "myth of male dominance" is a cross-cultural phenomenon found in societies with a strong domestic orientation and informal sources of power. While men have greater access to formal rights, the sexes are equally dependent on one another economically, politically, and socially. Hence, notions of male dominance in these societies function to mask women's strong, albeit informal, power in the domestic realm.

Certain religious beliefs also correlate with female status. Sanday (1981) argues that the gender of the creator(s) in a given society is linked to the status of women and men in the society. Societies with egalitarian gender relations tend to believe in a female creator or a male-female creator pair, while male-dominant societies have creators that take the form of human males or animals. Myths, especially origin myths, with feminine symbolism are charters that grant power to women, while masculine symbols grant power to men. The egalitarian

Iroquois, for example, believe in both male and female creators, while the male-dominant Mundurucu believe that a single male creator fashioned human beings and also taught the Mundurucu all the essentials of life; females had no role in creation (Murphy & Murphy, 1974).

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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