IDEOLOGY, AUTONOMY, AND SISTERHOOD:An Analysis of the Secular Consequences of Women's Religions
AbstractAll known women's religions provide transient help for specific women. Some women's religions also affect, or at least work toward, permanent and structural advantages to women as a group. A variety of factors explain these two models. Those women's religions that offer long-term collective betterment for women tend to be situated in societies in which women form ongoing “sisterhoods,” in which women have autonomy regarding their own sexuality and fertility, and in which women control significant economic resources. Moreover, these religions tend to elaborate and institutionalize gender as a cultural category. Women's religions that provide only short-term and individual assistance tend to attract women through illness and to emphasize spirit possession rituals.