Monday, June 2, 2008

Women & Religion...

I've noticed that many, if not most, of the posters who've come here from the "atheist camps" are men (or maybe it's just the men who are commenting because of the pretty penguin on the front page; not sure). And that got me to thinking about how few women there are who make the leap from God-believer to atheist. I'm not sure what the stats are regarding the makeup of religions worldwide, but I do recall the ratio of men to women in the Jehovah's Witnesses in my area being close to 1:4. And further, those who "went apostate" (left the cult for doctrinal, aka heretical reasons) were more likely to be men than women.

I just did a brief google search and came upon this article with the headline, "For women, but not men, religion may aid mental health." According to a January study in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, "Religious women who stop attending services are three times more likely to experience generalized anxiety and abuse alcohol than women who continue their religious activity."

I don't find this hard to believe. I'm blogged much here about the mindfuck of leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses and the difficult journey into a world without religion. I've seen few women do it, and even fewer come out unscathed. I mean really, look at my blog, you've seen what this process has done to me. I ask you, do you really want society flooded with a bunch of anxiety-ridden women who've given up God and taken up the bottle? Be careful what you wish for methinks.

Am I saying that I don't think women are up for the challenge of living without religion? No, I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that women's minds are hard-wired differently than men's. Thirty years of feminism can't change basic biology. Women, generally speaking, gravitate towards the unknown, as well as community; religion gives them both. Evolution is a slow, painful process. If we're going to have a world without imaginary friends, maybe we're going to have to have some kind of global support group for the loss involved. Humans for Humans perhaps?

tall penguin


10 comments:

Joshua Zucker said...

I was with you up until "What I am saying is that women's minds are hard-wired differently than men's. Thirty years of feminism can't change basic biology."

Ack!

There's really very little difference between men and women. Or, to put it another way, there's much much more difference between one random woman and another random woman than there is between the average woman and the average man.

At the very least, you have to credit a lot of the difference between women's needs and men's to the different roles our culture assigns them, not to fundamental brain differences.

falterer said...

I think I'm thinking along the same lines as Josh. I'm not sure physiology is to blame for differences in women's vs men's psychological health post-theism. I think the root of such difficulties could just as easily lie, not in biology, but in the expectations women are imbued with by society. I have no idea whether or not this is the case; I honestly haven't looked into it. But I don't think we need to jump to the conclusion that the study you mentioned is further evidence of "hard-wired" differences between the two sexes' brains. It could equally be evidence of cultural indoctrination at a young age. Are we still teaching women to be subservient to men? If so, can God or Jesus become a replacement "alpha male" figure for single women? Sorry if that sounds obnoxious or offensive. It's just an idea. Awesome blog, BTW.

Ged said...

I'm with you on that one TP. It is a generalisation and there are lots of exceptions, but I reckon men and women on the whole think differently. Maybe the continuum that is sexuality goes some way to explaining the exceptions. Also, social conditioning can work both ways.

There are lots of ways of looking at it. You could say women are more interested in people while men are more interested in ideas. Or women are good at seeing similarities while men are good at seeing differences.

A psychologist friend once told be she thought women have more 'emotional' intelligence than men. I still haven't figured out what that is so maybe she's right.

zensim said...

There is a slight bias in the wiring between men and women, but a balanced individual is equally balanced in their inner masculine and feminine.

I believe women are wired more to the advantage of being present to their emotions. Spirituality is quite 'feeling' based (in that sense I make little differentiation between other things in life that seem 'unecessary' but nurture the soul through feelings - music, art, touch etc).

The problem is the framework for spirituality has been around an 'alpha male' which women do find appealing on a lot of levels. The imbalance has been in women not being able to be 'alpha females' and create their own spiritual framework. Which is changing.

Women are turning away from religion but are not necessarily becoming athiests. They are seeking a more natural expression of their spirituality and I believe men are responding to that now, rather than the women in the century who tried to be alpha males :)

tall penguin said...

"At the very least, you have to credit a lot of the difference between women's needs and men's to the different roles our culture assigns them, not to fundamental brain differences."

Thank you joshua for your thoughts here.

Perhaps I wasn't clear in my commentary on brain hard-wiring. Is it possible that although the basic brain structures are no different between men and women, the nurture factor you mention, that of cultural/social conditioning, alters the way the brain becomes wired? And in that way, women and men appear to process the world differently?

Be patient with me. I struggle with the language to express things sometimes. And sometimes my emotions run away with me before I have the facts to back up my argument. I won't blame that on being a woman of course. Let's just say it's a penguin thing.

tall penguin said...

"Are we still teaching women to be subservient to men? If so, can God or Jesus become a replacement "alpha male" figure for single women? Sorry if that sounds obnoxious or offensive. It's just an idea."

An idea I've thought much about. Not sure.

tall penguin said...

"A psychologist friend once told be she thought women have more 'emotional' intelligence than men. I still haven't figured out what that is so maybe she's right."

lol ged. Thank you for bringing some levity to the table.

tall penguin said...

"Women are turning away from religion but are not necessarily becoming athiests."

Good point. Why do we feel the need to make it an either/or thing? Maybe there's a door number 3 or 4 or 10,000?

Paul said...

No data to back this up, but I think women are more matter-of-fact about what they believe or disbelieve. They don't seem to feel the need to make a big deal about it one way or the other. Men do. Maybe it's an ego thing.

tall penguin said...

"I think women are more matter-of-fact about what they believe or disbelieve. They don't seem to feel the need to make a big deal about it one way or the other. Men do. Maybe it's an ego thing."

Ego you say? Hmm...now there's a topic for discussion. Ego, more than any other factor methinks, will be the key to our undoing as a species. What's been key to our survival (the ego obsession) is unlikely to get us to the next level of evolution. Change is imperative. It always is.