As a Taoist who believes that all of us are part of a unified whole – different manifestations of one unifying entity, force or energy – there is no rationale in elevating one human over another or humans over any other entity. We are all part of Tao (e.g., God, Allah, Nature, etc…whatever word pleases you).
It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, black, red, yellow or white, rich or poor, attractive or ugly, right-handed or left-handed, a CEO or a janitor, female or male…it especially doesn’t matter what your gender is!
I wish the same could be said for other belief systems. Unfortunately, under fundamentalist Islam & Christianity, your gender plays the seminal role in how you may interact with the world and how that world will view and interact with you.
I don’t know what precisely served as the impetus for the differentiation of gender standing in Islam, but I’m convinced that its cause in fundamentalist Christianity is derived from the creation story in the Book of Genesis.
Actually, there are two divergent creation stories in Genesis. If you accept the first of the two (Gen 1:26-28) as the authoritative one, then you are less likely to view the feminine gender in the guise of second class citizens. If, on the other hand, you view the second version provided (Gen 2:18-23) as the real deal, then you will most likely believe that women should be subservient to men.
The crucial difference in these two versions of the same event concern when woman was created. In Version #1, man and woman are created simultaneously and, therefore, are of equal value and worth. Both are created in the image of the Almighty.
Version #2 strips woman of her equal status. Instead of being created alongside her masculine counterpart, she is now said to be created from HIS rib. In other words, man was created in the image of God and woman was created in the image of man.
The significance of difference between these two versions of human creation is stark and the latter goes a long way toward explaining why women were considered chattel in early Judaic history. One can’t very well treat an equal as a piece of property to be bought and sold on the open market, but it’s much easier to do so with someone considered a rung or two down the social ladder.
Though the Women’s Rights Movement has made some remarkable strides in the last 100 years, fundamentalist Christians – particularly the males – have clung to Genesis 2:18-23 while ignoring the earlier reference. For them, creation story #2 serves as the bedrock foundation in the vulgar belief that men are naturally the arbiters of human civilization.