Why Men, Not Religion, Reduced Women to Second-Class Citizens.

Misogyny, the hatred of women, is as old as society. It is found in the first story of mankind, that of Adam and Eve in which Eve sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit, and then persuaded Adam to do the same. As a punishment God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and condemned Adam to work hard for the rest of his life, and for Eve and all women after to suffer great pain in child birth. It is because of this story that religious men have justified their own misogyny. They either point to the fact that Adam was created first and must therefore be superior to Eve, or to Eve’s weak character that made her give in to temptation. However, as I will show, misogyny is not based on religion but men used religion to justify their misogyny and their persecution of women.  

The story of Adam and Eve is part of the Torah, the Bible and the Koran, and is therefore regarded as part of these religions. Some writers, such as Celia Kitzinger, see it as a myth created by the founding fathers of the great religions in order to take away power from women. Before Judaism, says Kitzinger, women were seen as goddesses who had the miraculous power to reproduce, a process often symbolized by a serpent who had the ability to shed their skin, or be “reborn.” The church fathers, alarmed by women’s sexuality, turned this goddess of fertility into “a shameful sinner” (Kitzinger1) who caused all women after her to suffer in childbirth. Therefore, according to Kitzinger, the church fathers were not interpreting the Holy Books correctly but “expressing their disgust at women’s bodies” (Kitzinger2), at the same time taking women’s power away so they would be able to control them more effectively.
Karen Armstrong agrees with Kitzinger, stating that when the “axial faiths” took over and also the great religions established, women lost their status and prestige in the community (Amstrong1). Armstrong does not believe that the great religions originally discriminated against women but that...