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Vol. 8 No. i (2020): Spring 2020

Girls Only: The Use and Abuse of Female-Centric Events in Patriarchal Religions

November 21, 2023


This paper examines how an ancient Greek fertility festival called Thesmophoria and Southern Baptist women’s conferences both benefit and harm women. Although these events are separated by millennia and religious beliefs, both are female-centric and occur within a dominating patriarchal context. During these occasions, women are led by members of their own group, focus on their religion together, and exclude men from their activities. As a result, these events seem to benefit women by allowing them to leave their homes and interact with other women of their faith without the direct supervision of their male relatives or leaders. However, because these events operate with the permission of the patriarchal society and uphold its values, they are ultimately harmful to women because they do not allow any real changes to be made to the society’s structure or values, even if those changes would improve women’s lives. While these events are beneficial in a short-term timeline, they function only as pressure valves in the long run as a way to relieve the tension women feel because of the restricting gender roles placed upon them.