Gender categories are one of the most basic and ubiquitous ways of recognizing the difference among humans. This entry addresses ways that religions incorporate gender categories. Although some cultures do not see gender as a binary category, many do. Among those that divide people into males and females, religions attend to variation by emphasizing variation within groups—for example, differences between older and younger men or between married and unmarried women. Or they may focus primarily on differences between each group. Often, norms reflect some combination of the two.

Religious beliefs and practices can act to maximize or minimize the attention paid to differences among genders. In those cases where religions attribute different characteristics to men and women, they often assign specific restrictions, obligations, and privileges based ...

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