General Question

mammal's avatar

Why are the most prevalent major religions dominated by male influence?

Asked by mammal (9431points) June 15th, 2010

Why is the Female contribution to the predominant religions, minimal?

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36 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

the Arab nations are very male dominant… but I don’t want to be politically incorrect with the specific religions lol

syz's avatar

Probably because historically, any and every major aspect of society has been male dominated.

Seek's avatar

Because about ten thousand years ago, men realised their contribution to the process of procreation. What was once the female Magic of childbearing suddenly relied on a man planting his “seed”. Then, the Mother Goddess in her fertile beauty was slowly replaced by the virile male God. It didn’t happen overnight. Originally the god was her consort, and slowly, he became her replacement.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Ummmm.. pretty much all of them.

ubersiren's avatar

I’m going to sound like a crazy person and I have to sources to back myself up, but… I bet the root of much male dominance in life originated somewhat from the physical strength that men had and women lacked. That’s what started the “I am dominant” attitude at the dawn of man. Everything branched from there. Even religion. I see that @Seek_Kolinahr has written a great answer, and I only add that perhaps they felt that way about their “seed” being essential because it had to be the big strong guy who was most important in procreation; it could never be the weak female.

CMaz's avatar

Yep. All of them. Except Wicca.

The_Idler's avatar

Because the most prevalent major religions were engineered, propagated and maintained primarily as a means of control, of preserving and perpetuating the power of the Establishment, which was itself dominated by male influence. There’s another question for you.

cheebdragon's avatar

Most? Are there ANY female dominated religions?

Sororities don’t count right?

MissAnthrope's avatar

@cheebdragon – Look to Paganism.

By the way, the world has not always been patriarchal. I recommend this book for an exhaustive look at pre-Christian religions and societies, many of which were matriarchal and female-dominated.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think there has been a lot of contrubitions by women to mainstream religions but, as usual, that’s not what gets written down – besides, religion is a tool of patriarchy.

CMaz's avatar

Behind every good man is a good woman. :-)

josie's avatar

The pagan religions were not thus. It was not until people began to think of religion as a form of “other world” mysticism that it became patriarchal. Since the religions that include the story of Abraham (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) originated in the Middle East…well look at it today. Not much has changed

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ChazMaz Yeah, in some cases it’s 5 feet behind as per ‘custom’.

ubersiren's avatar

@ChazMaz This is often true, and the other way around, too. The problem comes when people also believe that all of man’s wrong-doings are women’s fault as well (giving into temptation and tricking the man into doing it to).

The_Idler's avatar

@ubersiren And there was me, blaming it all on snakes.

The_Idler's avatar

Pain of childbirth? Blame it on the Snake.

cheebdragon's avatar

If men want to make an ass of themselves by spouting off their crazy delusions of seeing god or hearing voices in their head, I wouldn’t want to be associated with it…

jfos's avatar

@The_Idler Good (first) answer.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Because they’re bigger and can hurt you.

plethora's avatar

Why don’t we start with the ones that are radically male dominated and work down to those are much less so, or even equally dominated.

I’ll nominate Islam as the worst since the men stone their women to death on the slightest whim and even behead them as “honor killings” right here in the US (although the mainstream PC media gives it very iittle coverage…or possibly because they receive Islamic death threats).

Any other nominations?

Seek's avatar


The question was “why”, not “what.”

MissAnthrope's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Yeesh, I feel kind of dumb. I reread the question multiple times and kept seeing “what” instead of “why”. Oops.

laureth's avatar

Cultures tend to have a power balance between the genders that is largely based on how essential the role of that gender is to the group’s survival. Back in the day, it would seem that men hunted and women gathered. (Of course then, as now, there are exceptions.) In cultures that depended heavily on gatherable foods, women were accorded more prestige and power. In cultures where there wasn’t as much to gather (but where the hunting or farming men made a greater contribution), men had more prestige and power.

In temperate regions, you can see where it would naturally be a more equitable relationship because both are needed for survival. In harsher climates (such as where the Inuit live, for example, where there’s not much vegetable food growing and hunting is paramount), one can see why men would come to dominate. I can imagine this being true in a harsh desert climate as well, when activities like agriculture (as opposed to horticulture) and animal herding were seen as men’s work.

Since the Big Three Abrahamic religions all have a common source, all you really need is one warlike tribe to take the place over and then make conversion by the sword into a religious obligation, and you can see how it would come to take over large swaths of people all over the world. The OT Jews were quite warlike. Christianity looked for a while like it might not be, since Christ was famous for teaching women as well as men and treating them like they mattered (and this attitude was reflected in the early Church), but it was later taken over by those who seem to like Paul’s teachings better than those of Jesus. And Islam came from the same big harsh desert.

However, there are other religions not quite as testosterone-soaked as those. In some Buddhist countries, for example, they seem to have a more or less egalitarian viewpoint (it depends on the country, and you can even tell by looking at their Buddha statues). Women seem to also be very respected in many (but not necessarily all) Native American versions of spirituality. There is also room for female respect in many of the top religions by size.

It makes one wonder why, in today’s world where two paychecks are often necessary for a household’s well being, where women graduate college with science degrees more often than men, and more women have jobs than men, they are still willing to take the back seat to men in religion. Happily, the Unitarian Universalist religion is the first major faith group which has a majority of female clergy. Looks like religion is responding, slowly but surely. ;)


It was and still is a man’s world. Men were the inventors and builders of most things——religion, buildings, bridges, monuments, science, music, technology, etc. I’m not saying this out of sexism, but out of fact. Because men physically and ideologically dominated the world throughout history, they also were the ones who created the foundations of this dominance. If you look at all the great buildings and other constructs around the world, almost all, if not all, were designed and built by men with their raw strength. Conversely, as ambitious and as constructive as men are, they are also destructors, in war and in tearing down what they have built. We men not only build, but destroy.

plethora's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Yeah…..cause sometimes it just has to be done..both build and destroy.

plethora's avatar

Ok…sorry for going with “what” instead of “why”. I missed that.
Could it be because women don’t like religion very much?

eden2eve's avatar

I think that women like religion, sometimes more than men do.

One other reason for this apparent imbalance in power might be that women were quite busy doing other things, and may have been content to let the men be dominant in this part of their culture. And I think that their influence was often there, albeit subtly. Today there are things involving the power of women in certain religions which might surprise many people.

ththththth's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES although I agree to a lot of what you wrote there are amazing incidents of woman’s inventions and prowess. Take Jean De Arc both spiritual leader and war time leader of the french .. then when looking at construction look at the inventor of the lift/elevator also a woman OTIS being her surname, looking at medicine we have Marie Curie (again french). All around we have too long accepted a prejudiced tolerant acceptance of this unjust and unjustified balance in this world where if simply going by numbers Woman are more plentiful on this home we call Earth and if if there were any democracy in the greater scheme of consciousness then Woman should have the majority vote in both religion and daily life.

ththththth's avatar

Oh and Aida Loveless also the inventor of the computer with her then husband taking the credit for it… So the biggest revolution being this technological one which is able to spread religion and other stuff world wide is due to a woman. Artimesia Gentlesce one of the greatest post Renaissance painters of Italy being the period and the works they conveyed deeply religious connotations.

JLeslie's avatar

But, these women are few among many many men. I am guessing that if we line up throughout history who was doing most of the building, inventing, and discovering, and controlling men win. However, as we move more and more into a technilogical/scientific age women can easily compete equally. Building big building, bridges, pyramids, whatever you choose was more easily and logically done by men, when human stregnth was needed; men are physically stronger generally. Also being physically stronger they could dominate women, and if the men sought power in whatever culture they were in, then they could create religions that controlled women to accomodate the men, keep women from being educated, so thy were less likely to be making discoveries. Not to mention during a time where there was no birth control, and little understanding about how and when babies are made, women were occupied with being pregnant and making babies.

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shilolo's avatar

[mod says] Off-topic quips removed.

mattbrowne's avatar

The happens when religion is about power and the control of people’s lives instead of religious leaders being enablers and mentors to help people grow in their spiritual lives, find purpose and meaning and living ethically. Recently the German Protestant Church was run by a female bishop. Extremely male-dominated religions often have hidden political agendas.

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