Christianity isn’t the only religion to have relegated women to the back rows and lesser positions in the church (if any) but Catholicism definitely rates high on the list of religious groups that discriminate against women. All those religions who begin with Adam and Eve see the world in a certain light. As the Genesis story goes, Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The other tree was the tree of life. Eve made the choice and then convinced Adam to take a bite.
And so, through time it’s the woman’s fault for the fact that the man was weak, couldn’t make his own decision, followed in her footsteps and has never ever lived it down? Interestingly, humanity’s “flaw” was originally that Eve chose to know about good and evil, to be self-aware, that had them kicked out of a never-changing (and possibly boring) paradise. After all, we must never forget that although God made us in its/his/her own image, humanity was also given the ability to choose, not obey mindlessly.
The original sin, therefore was choosing to know. But Christianity was spawned out of Judaism and older religions and a time when women were already considered the lesser being of the race by some cultures. As it developed from a cultic following into a religion the church fathers slowly puffing up on their own importance until they ruled over kings and ordained what was to be with the mortal soul. They also put women in their place. Whether this was because of some repressed homosexuality or woman hating or weird issues of control, we’ll never know for sure. It seems at least that St. Peter was very jealous of Mary Magdalene and didn’t like women.
By the fourth and fifth centuries Christianity was much more theologized, philosophized and codified. There were women priests and deacons but the tides were turning against them. Part of the reason was that church doctrine, run more and more only by men said that the original sin and the downfall of “man” was not seeking knowledge, but was Eve’s fault and that that original sin was sex. Yes, sex, something that is part of almost all species in the continuation of a race. But it was slowly relegated to stricter and stricter guidelines as the Church sought to control people and gain wealth. No sex on Sundays, no sex on feast days, sex only after dark, no fun sex, sex only for propagation because the more you had sex the farther you were from being a perfect being. Of course if the church succeeded 100% with having everyone abstain from sex (a somewhat unnatural form for any living being) then they would have been so good the human race would have ceased to exist. Would that make Christianity nihilistic?
In the highly male dominated church world, where woman were the seductresses and whores, the sensual and lascivious, the emotional and the simple, there came a secret that the Catholic church has tried to hide ever since but there is enough evidence that it truly happened. People lived in a world dominated by the penis, whether the mace carried in parliament, the rod and scepter of royalty or the holy rood of the church, the phallic emblem indicated power to wield over others.
But in the 9th century there was a young woman who learned keenly and intelligently. Her name was Johanna. Through many different travels she managed to work her way up through the church, disguised as Brother Johann. In the days of the middle and dark ages, men and women wore similar garments, long robes. A slim woman or one who bound her breasts, who wasn’t particularly feminine looking (remember they didn’t wear make-up or push-up bras then, could easily look like a man. So it was with Johanna, or Johannus.
She fooled the Roman Catholic church enough that she became pope. After a short reign on the papal throne she was discovered when she gave birth on a papal procession and was either stoned to death, deposed or died of the birth. There were two Pope John XIVs, and there might have been a Pope Joan in the 11th to the 9th century. Or perhaps it is made up, just a fiction. One thing is for sure, the Church would want it to be a fiction, to not support it with fact and to hide any information that could be construed as truth. And why? Not be cause it doesn’t follow what’s true but because it would mean a woman rose to the highest station possible, and if one woman could do it, why not others? They wouldn’t then be inferior creatures, would they? The penis would begin to wilt and not be quite so mighty.
Some Catholic women have begun to petition and protest to the Vatican insisting on ordination for women. Whereas many branches of Christianity now have ordained women, the Roman Catholic Church resists change and equality with a ferocity that Peter would be proud of. You have to really wonder, what are they so afraid of? If women really are the inferior creatures talked about by the Church, then why did Jesus reveal his resurrected self first to a woman, and Eve wouldn’t have chosen knowledge over eternal life.