Religion stands as a central point in history; sadly the abuse of religion has stood out more (at least in my mind) in history, which includes how the most widespread religion persecutes it's minorities. Minorities generally include women, especially in a religion that gives much power to the man. I personally believe the Abrahamic traditions are strongly rooted in patriarchy, which throws me into contradiction with feminism.
Ladies, how many of you out there are feminists? If so, how do you define yourself within the "boundaries" of feminism? That includes all female readers - Christian gals - are you adherents to the views of the "Women of Faith"? Or perhaps there's just a whole lot of free thmen out there that hold their own views privately or aloud. That seems to be within the spirit of Texans, that independence of thought and spirit.
So does mainstream religion benefit women? I look at the religion as a whole to make that determination. I look at the ideals/beliefs the religion espouses and then I watch the religion in action. And because I believe one should be engaged in the practice of their beliefs, I jump right in there where I can and participate. Participation allows you to test where the thoughts of your co-religionists are, this includes women's roles in the communal practice.
I've started wearing my kippah again recently - a kippah is the Jewish prayer cap typically worn by men. But the extra detail about this I love is that women in non-traditional congregations wear Kippot also. My home synagogue in Iowa City would be one place women wear kippot. They generally wear them during Friday night services. I've elected off and on for the past three years to wear mine all the time as my friend Adam does. And the response within Jewish circles has been largely positive where there has been a response. Non-Jews usually say first, "is that a yarmulke (Yiddish word for kippah)?” I say yes, then it's generally followed by, "aren't only men supposed to wear them"? I tell them yes, traditionally only men wear them, but I come from a growing movement of non-traditional Jews that believe women are fully responsible for observing Torah as well.
I remember going to the Shabbaton weekend and being told by men and women that only men are fully responsible for keeping the Torah because they are the stronger of the two sexes. Of course I don't believe that, rather believe men and women are strong in different areas. So I wear my kippot because I believe women are strong. In Israel women are required to serve in the military, well women can wear kippot and keep Torah.
So does religion benefit women? It sure does. To the extent it allows all it's members to participate in it's thought processes, intellectual life and forward movement.