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Gender roles and Popular religions

            Religion has been around almost since the beginning of man. It has served two main purposes for men and women. Religion is a means of explaining what cannot be understood as well as a service to guide the behavior of those who follow it. In particular, Religion can serve to give guidelines for different gender roles in a community. While all religions are very different, they can be broken up into three categories: Those that encourage natural gender roles that stem from evolution, those that seek to control these natural gender roles, and those in between. Religions that appear to encourage the gender roles that have resulted from evolution tend to favor the male species. The female's sexuality is controlled by males, or even by society. Males tend to be polygynous. On the other hand, those religions that appear to want to control natural gender roles tend to have more of an equality between men and women, or even, favor women. Also, monogamy is the social norm. While most modern religions tend to be a little of both, those that encourage natural gender roles tend to be more fundamental in belief while those that seek to control these natural tendencies tend to be more modern (or "western").
             On one end of the spectrum there is the Australian Tiwi Aborigines. Their religion commands that a woman be assigned a marriage partner even before they are conceived. Polygamy is the norm as many women are married into a union in which they will owe, ".allegiance to her husband and any wives he may already have, rather than her parents" (Potts 89). Since wives are essentially betrothed to a man through their mothers, any siblings that the mother conceives will also belong to the same man: "At the time of the girl's puberty ritual, her father selects a man and gives him a ceremonial spear, as a sign that any girls his daughter may be delivered of later will eventually become wives of that man" (Potts 89).

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