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Women and Religion by Berktay Fatmagül

Women and Religion by Berktay Fatmagül

A book that encourages women to go beyond the boundaries of religion and reclaim their rights.

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Studying the relationship between women and religion poses manifold problems.

There is, first, the question of religion in theory and religion in practice, the way it is actually experienced by people in various contexts and in different historical periods. Secondly, it is difficult to speak about women as if they constitute a unified entity, when in actual fact they lead a fragmented existence subject to divisions of class, race, nationality, ethnicity.

Things become all the more complicated when it comes to trying to understand women's subjectivities, the ways in which they conceive of themselves and of the world around them.

This book, while taking women's subjectivities and reasons for their taking to religion into account, focuses mainly on the functions of religion: the way it relates to women; its contribution to gender differences; and the status of women within it, particularly the relationship between gender on the one hand, and power and social control on the other, and within this context, the meanings attributed to the female body.

The author examines why, in all three monotheisms the gender of God is male and what the impact of this is on our thoughts regarding gender definitions, the nature of authority, and power structures. She asks us to consider why the power of procreation of women in existing societies is underestimated while the ability to create culture and civilization, attributed solely to men is overestimated.

Undertaken as well, is an exposition of contemporary Fundamentalism in both its Protestant and Islamic variants (in America and Iran) in the hope that a comparitive approach to religious Fundamentalism will offer clues for a deeper understanding of the revival of religious belief in our modern world. Here is a book that encourages women to go beyond the restrictive boundaries of religion and reclaim their rights.

Fatmagül Berktay is an associate professor with the Department of Philosophy, and teaches feminist theory at the Women's Research Center, both of the University of Istanbul, Turkey. She is a political scientist; translator; and publicist active in the women's movement in Turkey; and, has published many articles both in Turkey and abroad.

1998: 240 pages, index