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Women are just mere followers of what the males would decide.
Taoism is a combination of psychology and philosophy and evolved into a religious faith in 440 CE when it was adopted as a state religion. Taoism, along with Buddhism and Confucianism, became one of the three great religions of China. Taoism currently has about 20 million followers. About 30,000 Taoists live in North America, 1,720 in Canada (http://ssd1.cas.pacificu.edu/,2005).
Taoist concepts, beliefs and practices include (http://ssd1.cas.pacificu.edu/,2005):
Tao is the first-cause of the universe. It is a force that flows through all life. "The Tao surrounds everyone and therefore everyone must listen to find enlightenment."
Each believer's goal is to become one with the Tao.
Taoists strongly promote health and vitality.
Taoists believe that the five main organs and orifices of the body correspond to the five parts of the sky: water, fire, wood, metal and earth.
Each person must nurture the Ch'i (air, breath) that has been given to them.
Development of virtue is one's chief task. The Three Jewels to be sought are compassion, moderation and humility.
Taoists follow the art of "wu wei," which is to let nature take its course. For example, one should allow a river to flow towards the sea unimpeded; do not erect a dam which would interfere with its natural flow.
Taoists is kind to other individuals, in part because such an action tends to be reciprocated.
Taoists believe that "people are compassionate by nature...left to their own devices [they] will show this compassion without expecting a reward."
With regards to the gender roles in Taoism, women play a very significant role in this type of believers (Kohn, 2006). Women are not considered as the "high and mighty" nor the dominating gender, however, their role to the society and to the religion itself is of utmost importance.
The complexity of women's position is particularly poignant in the Daoist case, since the religion is caught between its essential cosmological premise of the power of yin and the realities of a strongly patriarchal society following the Confucian model" (Kohn, 2006).
Needless to say, women in Taoism is believed to be the source of life, hence they are to be respected and taken cared for. Women's opinions are valued greatly for the Taoists believe that whatever ideas that come in the female brains are part of the cosmic power of the yin and yang combined. But on some aspect, women are tasked to act as the inferior gender for they are to follow the rules of the male populace (an idea that is typical among the Chinese people). When it comes to family structure or household decisions, women and men share the responsibility and each has its own task to handle where no one can surpass or bypass.
Women as much as men are required to continue the family line, serve their parents and their communities, and are not free to leave at will. Men in classical hagiographies, unless they are younger sons and let go more easily, tend to marry and produce offspring, and then leave their wives and children. Women, too, in most cases are widowed when they enter the religious path. If they wish to leave at a younger age, they have a more difficult time, needing to resist the pressures of marriage and gain as much control over their lives as possible" (Kohn, 2006).
From the gender role difference of the four religions highlighted, it can be easily reflected upon that the roles of the female and of the males vary greatly depending upon the beliefs and traditions of the religion itself. At most times, the traditions and cultures of a particular race who initiated the religion dominates the "roles" imposed on each gender. Like for example the Buddhism which follows the Indian's context or the Taoism that upholds the Chinese point-of-view. Indeed, the difference in gender roles are aimed not making an invisible line to separate the men from the women, but only to uphold the traditions and beliefs of the religion and of the race.
Buddhism." 2005. http://www.fwbo.org/buddhism.html
Buddhism and Gender Equality." 2006. http://www.faithnet.org.uk/KS4/Social%20Harmony/buddhismequality.htm
Inglehart, Ronald. 2002. "Islam, gender, culture, and democracy." International Journal of Comparative Sociology. E.J. Brill
Kohn, Livia. 2006. "Are Women in Daoism Different From Women in Chinese Society." Department of Religious Studies. Queen's University Kingston, ON Taoism."2005. http://ssd1.cas.pacificu.edu/
The Role of Women." 2002. http://www.jewfaq.org/women.htm[continue]
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