Her Religion and His Religion
Not all people interpret religion in the same way. In virtoally all religions. women have much Jessinfluence in establishing social definitions of appropriate gender roles both within the religious community and in the larger community. Therefore, women and men may belong to the same religious group, but their individual religion will not necessarily be a carbon copy of the group's entire system of beliefs. According to McGuire (2002), women's versions of a certain religion probably differ markedly from men's versions. For example, although ar Orthodox Jewish man may focus on his public ritual roles and his discussion of sacred texts, women have few ritual duties and are more likely to focus on their responsibilities in the home. Consequently, the meaning of being Jewish mal' be different for women than for men.
Religious symbolism and language typically create a social definition of the roles of men and women. For example, religious symbolism may depict the higher deities as male and the lower deities as female. Females are sometimes depicted as negative or evil spiritual forces. For example, the Hindu goddess Kali represents men's eternal battle against the evils of materialism (Daly, 1973). Historically, language has defined women as being nonexistent in the world's major religions. Phrases such asfor nll men in Catholic and Episcopal services have gradually been changed to for all; however, some churches retain the traditional liturgy. And although there has been resistance, especially by women, to some traditional terms, inclusive language
is less common, overall, than older male terms for God (Briggs, 1987). Manywomen resist the subordination that they have experienced in organized religion. They have worked to change the existing rules that have excluded them or placed them in a clearly subordinate position.