The tables have turned. Shelby Knox came to our class to speak about her work after the film had come out. Knox was still a teen when she began to speak around colleges across the nation on her work on reproductive justice. She found out she was not the only one who did not have access to sex education, a “life skill” as Knox describes it.
Knox explained she is not associated with her faith the same way that it has been portrayed in the film. She had made a purity pledge to a male God, in the presence of her father and male pastor, to a presumed male spouse. She says she could not find herself in that – a phrase that very much resonated with me.
Which bring forth that feminism and religion are at conflict. Religion is generally seen as a positive. People with strong faith ties are said to be happier and tend to live longer – studies find them to be healthier. But religion also has a strong history of patriarchy and control over women’s lives. Abortion, spousal duties, the Muslim woman’s veil, leadership positions in the Church, history of female oppression, feminine behavior regulation, female gentile mutilation, sexual double standards, and formation of gender roles are all influenced by religion. I am not referring to religion as in “God’s words/ideals,” but the community and scriptural evidence around sex and gender.
The history of women and their role in religion, when outwardly feminist, has be suppressed. The woman who baptized herself because no male would do so. The woman who married Mohammed, who herself was a bushiness woman and his boss. The choice to not marry – thereby taking control over her sexuality.
The issue is even more continent for those who identity as something other than heterosexual.