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12 July 2009 @ 07:37 am
Cross Cultural Opression  
Today I have a guest blog up at No Longer Quivering, entitled "Connecting The Dots: Patriarchy Across Cultures. It talks about the connections between the fundamentalist, restrictive religious groups of different cultures, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or others. I have been struck lately by the similarities in how women are treated and regarded in these disparate cultures. It seems like the one unifying theme is that women should be controlled and covered up and that men should rule their homes and the world. Period.

It amazes me now that I once bought into that notion for a second. I had misgivings the first time I read about women not being seen as intelligent as men are and how we should always be under the guidance of a man. There was a lot of soothing rhetoric about how we are "not our bodies" but "on the material platform we must discriminate." I liked many other things about temple life and the philosophy so I let myself be lulled into going along on that one unpalatable point. It was easy once I left to recover my feminist roots. I am so glad I did. It was like waking up from a dream.

Don't get me wrong, there were positive things from my experience in the Hare Krishna movement as well. And I am not saying the whole religion is just a cult. I would say that the Western version of it ended up being cult-like because of the way the head of it felt he had to train (indoctrinate) what he saw as godless Westerners. In its native setting, Gaudiya Vaishnavism is gradually adjusting to modern times like other religions, and not all of its followers are fanatical. Some practice it in a healthier manner that doesn't restrict their lives.

There will be future posts where I delve more into my own experience. I am working on a memoir, and while the Hare Krishna years aren't the sole focus (but rather, a chapter of it) I do cover some of that time in a rough draft here.