Yes, despite all that, “yatra naryasto pujyante, ramante tatra devtah” or “our god gives women full rights to a fulfilling life, (of course, in accordance with his rules)” – all religions have treated women badly. Some less, some more. Sometimes violently vicious, exploitative and sometimes through shame, honour and propriety.
Fact also is that religions have controlled men too – but the extent to which men have had the leeway to choose and also, get away is way higher than allowed/practiced in most religions.
World religions originated in vastly different eras in far off continents across the world. Some spread through sword, some through sugar and some didn’t bother. They can’t agree if god is one or several, if god is a man (woman) or energy or a whisper in my ear. They can’t agree if the god resides in every stone or a specific stone or a wooden statuette. They can’t agree if I can marry once, four times or never at all. Heck, they can’t even agree if I can eat germs, cows or pigs or only curd rice. But, they all agree on one thing.
Women need to be controlled. That set, obviously they have to make examples of women that break ranks – how else will the control work.
Question is, why the religions that originated over thousands of year gaps across thousands of miles in different places, cultures, peoples, conditions with so much diversity in everything else converge on one thing – their treatment of women.
A wise man I know has an interesting perspective. It starts with a simple question.
Which religion would survive? The one that keeps having followers.
So, what would religions do? Try to increase the number of followers. Exactly like market share businesses.
And how to have more followers? Two ways: a) Conversion, and b) Reproduction. Conversion works for the ‘others’ – coerce, induce, indoctrinate. Reproduction works from the inside – and where does reproduction happen? You guessed it. Women’s bodies.
If the followers are products of religions, women’s bodies are the machines producing them. Obviously, you would want the machines to be under your control. (All those ‘machines grow brains then kill humans’ Terminator movies in Hollywood just show how much we fear machines getting independent). No wonder religions, clerics, men and everyone with power did their best to control ‘machines’.
And hence, the wise man says, all religions despite bitter, even violent disagreements on matters like the right length of the pajamas or the optimum dip of the ghoonghat, agree on one thing – women’s bodies need to be controlled.
Patriarchy directly follows from that, and with that, all else.