So it’s International Women’s Day, and I’m thinking about what various religions might do to celebrate it. How about equality? True equality. With rare exceptions religions have been spawned and gestated in masculine wombs. Increasing the asperity, monotheism had to, by definition, introduce a single-gendered god to match at least half of the human race’s expectations. No surprise he is a deity with a Y chromosome. For whatever reason, religions nearly always promote male experience as normative and female experience as supportive. If you disagree, well, talk to the man upstairs.
In those few precious moments when I’m allowed the luxury of a daydream, I wonder how differently the world would’ve developed without the mythology of the alpha male god. If god had been conceived as feminine in the beginning, would it have made a difference? Would the rules be more or less stringent? More humane?
Polarities are a funny way to view the world. As evolved, gender-differentiated animals, we easily slip woman and man into that category of natural polarities. Over time, however, it has become clear that reality is more complex than X or O (or I and O, or X and Y—where the male is missing something the female secretly possesses). What if the overall category were simply “human?” As we’ve evolved, we’ve learned to keep many animalistic tendencies in check. Our vast and complex societies, unique only in degree, have demonstrated that it is possible. To judge half of the human race as less able to provide spiritual leadership is an exploitation well past due for extinction. With all eyes on the Vatican over the past couple of weeks, the largest Christian denomination in the world doesn’t seem ready to shift even a nanometer on this one. Mother Mary, pray for us.
In a world where conception was a mystery (which it still is, to a point), women were the sole life givers. Men had the role of sustainers, the help-meets who brought home the meats. Somewhere along the sociological lines the order somehow switched. Might it have been religion itself that led to the subordination of the god-like ability to give life that only women possessed? By attributing the origin of life to a being, generally male, outside the realm of normal reality, religion bestowed a foreign primacy upon the human race. We became the victims of our own longing for transcendence. So celebrate International Women’s Day. If it weren’t for a woman, a goddess in her own right, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.