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Book Reviews: Women, Religion, Feminism, Discrimination

It's frequently the case that religions treat women as inferior to men - women have been denied leadership roles, they are told to be submissive, and religious doctrines are used to control them both in society and the family. Why?
  1. Women in Islam

Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics
The Nazi party was about as misogynistic as any modern political party has ever been. Its views on women and women's proper roles in society were extreme; yet at the same time, the Nazi party was broadly and actively supported by large numbers of women. It's arguable that Hitler and the Nazis wouldn't have achieved what they did without the...

Ungodly Women: Gender and the First Wave of American Fundamentalism
Most people realize that one of the central features of modern American fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism is a distinctive vision of gender roles both in society at large and in the family in particular. When fundamentalists are criticized, it is often on the basis of their perceived reactionary ideas about women, sex, and gender.

Crossing Over: One Woman's Escape from Amish Life
Just about everyone in America is familiar with the Amish. Their simple lifestyle has been immortalized in several movies and many visit Amish areas to buy quilts and other homemade items. But just how many Americans are familiar with what the Amish, especially the Old Order Amish, really believe?

Women and the Conquest of California, 1542-1840
The Spanish missions in California are an important part of the state's history - important enough that many want the government to pay for restoring the missions, even if they continue to be used as active churches. At the same time, though, people aren't being completely honest about many of the awful things that religious leaders did to...

The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith
Is there something wrong with Islam today? Many people think so - including not a few Muslims. Not too long ago criticisms of Islam would not have been well tolerated, even coming from outsiders; but in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, we have seen a small wave of books by Muslims who are reexamining their faith and asking...

Is the Pope Catholic? A Woman Confronts Her Church
To what degree has Pope John Paul II been faithful to important Catholic teachings and traditions? That might sound like an odd question: if anyone would be faithful to Catholic teachings. it should be the pope, and if anyone has been exceedingly traditional, it has been Pope John Paul II. Appearances, however, can be deceptive - perhaps there...

Rage Against the Veil: The Courageous Life and Death of a Dissident
What is it like to live in a strict Islamic society when you are a well-educated, talented, politically active, and self-assured woman? It's tough to imagine, but Parvin Darabi tells the story of one person: her sister. Unfortunately, her sister is unable to tell us herself because she committed suicide by burning herself to death in Tehran. What drove her to this act of desperation?

Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns
When you think of nuns, what comes to mind? Stern, older women characterized by lethal rulers and the watchful eyes of hawks? Comical, even clownish women as depicted in movies like "Sister Act"? There are many different prejudices and assumptions made about nuns and there always have been - and most of them are probably wrong.

Women's Seclusion and Men's Honor: Sex Roles
In Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Northern India, rumors about a woman having an affair, marrying a man of her choice, or even just spending time with the "wrong"? man can cause irredeemable disgrace to her entire family. The only recourse for male relatives is violence: beatings, disfigurement, and sometimes murder. Female relatives of the offending male may even be raped for the sake of honor.

Veiled Courage: Inside the Afghan Women's Resistance
Now that Afghanistan has been "liberated" from fundamentalism, what will the future be like for the women of that nation? Their fate will depend to a great degree on whether or not Afghanistan really has been liberated from fundamentalism - in other words, what voice will be given to women and what role they will play in politics and society.

Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society
How are women really treated in Islam? Many Muslims argue that Islam gives women a good status and even that Islam was an improvement for women over what they experienced previously. But many others argue that women are treated badly by Islam and have an inferior status. Who is right?

Restoring the Goddess: Equal Rites for Modern Women
Is traditional religion inherently patriarchal and hence damaging to women? Is it possible to reconstruct a female-centered religious system? Would such a religion be free of superstition and damaging imagery, making it inherently better than a traditional religion centered on a male god?

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