Women Are More Deprived

This explanation looks at women's social status and power: "There is not a single society known where women-as-a-group have decision-making power over men or where they define the rules of sexual conduct or control marriage exchanges" (Lerner, 1986, p. 30) It is easy to conclude that women are deprived and oppressed in many social situations. Reporting on the greater religiosity of women in the Soviet Union and then in post-communist Russia, Anderson quotes an unnamed "Intourist guide, who explained that there were greater numbers of women in church 'because women suffer more'" (Anderson, 1993, p. 209).

In many cultures, being a woman often means also being powerless, illiterate, and poor. When being female is tied to lack of social support, religious involvement is more likely (Argyle & Beit-Hallahmi, 1975). Anderson (1993) reported on "... surveys which demonstrated that up to 50 per cent of many congregations were single women" (p. 209). Deprivation often leads members of oppressed groups to coping through imaginary compensation and magical acts, and religion in this case functions as it does with other oppressed groups (Beit-Hallahmi, 1989). A 1989 study of 4,367 adolescents in 13 nations (Australia, Brazil, China, Greece, India, Israel, Kuwait, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Russia, Turkey, the United States, and Venezuela), which looked at coping styles, led to the following conclusion: "We find it a fascinating comment on gender that females responded... more like lower... SES groups and more like minority than majority groups! This occurred within all socioeconomic groupings and most countries" (Gibson-Cline, 1996, p. 267).

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