Rastafari is known for its outlook of being humble, kind and fair to all. However, modern society has caught up to Rastafari practices, and some of their traditions have now been perceived as questionable.
In particular, the Rastafari movement appears to suffer a lack of gender equality, which is inconsistent with the rest of the Rasta ideals. CrowdH is here to check the evidence that could spell the answer of whether or not Rastafari is a movement wrought with sexism. Before diving in, be sure to check out the Rastafari history and beliefs article to get the context of what the movement is all about.
The Rastafari Portrayal of Women
Under some traditions, the role of a Rasta woman can be seen to be less significant than that of a man. Rasta men, for example, have the title of Kingsman and are responsible for putting food on the table and raising their children under the Rastafari path.
Women are given the outlook of living the Rasta lifestyle, but with a few restrictions. For one, a Rasta Empress must always be mindful of what she wears. Meaning tight clothes, revealing outfits or other articles of clothing that show the butt or bust-line are not allowed.
Rasta groundings typically bring together members in discussing their beliefs in relation to current events, singing, performing songs and smoking ganja. Women are usually excluded from these groundings.
A Rasta diet also advises against eating food prepared by a woman during their menstruation. Abortion is also considered an act of Babylon, and divorce is not considered part of the Rasta way. It is possible though for a Kingsman to have multiple wives.
All in all, a Rasta Empress has the role of bearing and raising children while following their husband every step of the way. This is done all while Rasta men work, smoke ganja, and come home to ensure that their children are raised correctly.
Is Rastafari Culture Just Misunderstood?
A message that gives ideas of peace and stability, but also dated by years in gender roles? Sounds a lot like Roman Catholicism and Christianity in the last few decades. An apparent lack of choice has continued to become a hot topic for many religions and organized movements.
One of the more controversial ones is the treatment of women in Muslim communities, and their lack of freedom and rights compared to men. But that’s what the point of this argument is: change. Has the Rastafari movement attempted to adapt to the feminist and social adaptations of the modern world? Some could say yes, as it is a relatively young, new-age religion that is based on a number of older ideas.
Even though the exclusion of women from groundings is still prevalent, many Rasta women have established their own female grounding circles. Liberation and the need for this change have also been described by prominent authors of the Rasta community.
Like any other religion, movement or culture, it can be adapted and interpreted in a variety of ways. Some groups may not advocate some of these traditions, while others will practice their own idea of Rasta culture to co-exist with their morals or interpretations.
Change is always difficult, as cited in some religions, but the idea that Rastafari is any different is just not accurate. Continuing to be vocal on equality to provide and create a path that offers Rasta living to everyone will allow it to remain consistent with their message of peace, freedom, and love.