15 Duke J. Gender L. & Pol'y 365 (2008)
Rank Usurpation of Power - The Role of Patriarchal Religion and Culture in the Subordination of Women, A; Stopler, Gila

handle is hein.journals/djglp15 and id is 369 raw text is: A RANK USURPATION OF POWER'-THE ROLE OF PATRIARCHAL
RELIGION AND CULTURE IN THE SUBORDINATION OF WOMEN
GILA STOPLER*
I. INTRODUCTION
A fundamental assumption of contemporary feminist theory and practice is
that gender is a form of power, and a universal one at that.2 The system
facilitating and entrenching this power-patriarchy-can be defined as the
manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over women in
society.3 Anthropologist Sherry Ortner argues that in every known culture
women are considered in some degree inferior to men.4 She identifies three
types of data that constitute evidence that a particular culture considers women
inferior: (1) elements of cultural ideology and informants' statements that
explicitly devalue women, according them, their roles, their tasks, their
products, and their social milieux less prestige than are accorded men and the
male correlates; (2) symbolic devices, such as the attribution of defilement,
which may be interpreted as implicitly making a statement of inferior valuation;
and (3) social-structural arrangements that exclude women from participation in
or contact with some realm in which the highest powers of the society are felt to
reside.' Although any of these data types will suffice to indicate women's
inferiority in a given culture, they might all occur simultaneously and appear
interrelated.6 This is true in some dominant versions of major religions, such as
conservative Christianity and orthodox Judaism, in which women are devalued,
considered impure, and barred from positions of power.
1. Angelina Grimke, Angelina E. Grimke, Letters to Catherine [sic] E. Beecher, in reply to An Essay
on Slavery and Abolitionism, addressed to A. E. Grimke, in THE PUBLIC YEARS OF SARA AND ANGELINA
GRIMKE SELECTED WRITINGS 1835-39 146, 197 (Larry Ceplair ed., 1989) [hereinafter THE PUBLIC
YEARS].
* Assistant Professor, Academic Center of Law & Business, Ramat Gan Israel, JSD, LLM NYU
School of Law; LLB Tel Aviv University.
2. Nicholas Dirks et. al., Introduction to CULTURE/POWER/HISTORY: A  READER IN
CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL THEORY 3,33 (Nicholas Dirks et. al. eds., 1994); ELIZABETH FRAZER & NICOLA
LACEY, THE POLITICS OF COMMUNITY: A FEMINIST CRITIQUE OF THE LIBERAL- COMMUNITARIAN DEBATE
33 (1993).
3. This definition is adapted from Gerda Lerner, who defines patriarchy as the manifestation
and institutionalization of male dominance over women and children in the family and the
extension of male dominance over women in society in general. GERDA LERNER, THE CREATION OF
PATRIARCHY 239 (1986) [hereinafter THE CREATION OF PATRIARCHY].
4. SHERRY B. ORTNER, MAKING GENDER: THE POLITICS AND EROTICS OF CULTURE 23 (1996).
5. Id.
6. Id.

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