Approach in Religious Studies:
An Attempt of Interdisciplinary Discussion
we try to compare two spheres of scholarly research – religious
studies and gender studies – we will at first glance not find anything
in common. These disciplines have their own subjects of research,
different goals and methods of research. However, if we look closer
we will find “black holes” – particular moments that cannot be explained
from the point of view of only one discipline and require specialists
from other areas of knowledge. There are such well-known examples
of cooperation as sociology and religious studies (sociology of
religion), psychology and religious studies (psychology of religion),
history and religious studies (history of religion), or philosophy
and religious studies (philosophy of religion). We also know about
interrelations between such disciplines as theology, ethnography,
linguistics etc. with religious studies, which testifies of marginal
character of this discipline and of its openness to other spheres
of knowledge. However, religious studies scholars have not been
paying due attention to gender researches that, as we think, could
assist in solving many “problematic areas”.
Many researchers of religion have noted that the masculine and the
feminine may show themselves differently in different religions.
Shy steps in the direction of gender research have been taken (and
are still being taken) by contemporary Russian and Western religious
studies scholars but they are not structured and are founded more
on an intuitive approach rather then a firmly based position.
If we take gender studies, we will see that the area of religion
has been covered in them by both those who were the roots of the
“feminist movement” to contemporary scholars (examples).
Therefore, we can speak of an inter-intrestedness of religious and
gender areas of study.
This, in turn, means that there are some common problems which touch
on interests of both of these areas. This is what we are led by
when we turn to three “bordering” problems for Religious and Women's
1. Masculine and feminine gods: their images, functions and basic
All of mythology is one way or another based on the opposition between
masculine and feminine.
2. Perception of gender and the role of women in various religions.
As a rule, women in the social life have a role different from that
which men have. This goes for religion also.
3. Woman and power: key to the problem
functions that gods play is nothing else but “competition” for power;
the role women play in religion only proves that the struggle is
still taking place. And this struggle goes on in order for the scale
on which men and women are on the opposite ends to shift one way
female religiousness is different from masculine religiousness and
the very problem of gender must be taken in account when one or
another religion or a religious belief is approached. Gender differences
(superficial in rites or functional) may shed more light on the
picture of religious life in case if a deep understanding of their
essence is added to the fixation of superficial differences; sources
of the problem and its “blasts” within history of feminism must
also be understood on a deeper level.
interaction of gender and religious researches could do great good
showing itself, for example, in NRM studies where masculine and
feminine are not static things, but a way of religious life, that
is built on particular stereotypes or, on the contrary, on denying