Makes sense, women make up 65% of churchgoers. This indicates a growing acceptance of women holding positions of authority in the church, no? Well according to Julia Ogilvy this is not so. It is far from so, if you will. In her new book Women in Waiting: Prejudice at the Heart of the Church Ogilvy records the experiences of 12 (hah) women who have encountered prejudice from the Church community.
Some of it could be explained away as paranoia, or a woman being oversensitive. The Reverend Professor Sarah Coakley, who is now at Cambridge and a Professor of Divinity tells of a difficult start at Oriel College: "I wasnât harassed sexually but I was treated in some extremely weird ways which were actually very undermining to my position, and I had to fight to be allowed to do the job that Iâd been appointed to do." While the Dean of York, Vivienne Faull tells of direct action to intimidate her, making the Reverend Professor's experience far more plausible and also quite mild: "I have had a lot of abusive personal stuff, abusive and pornographic letters in the post."
Because our society is increasingly secular we tend to ignore the plight of women in the Church. It's too archaic to be relevant to us surely. However the influence the Church has in politics on issues such as equal marriage and abortion is not to be ignored. Even if you don't think it has any sway this is a case of equality laws being flouted and therefore if you're a feminist you should pay attention.
this is a case of equality laws being flouted and therefore if you're a feminist you should pay attention.
The blogger God Loves Women recorded a recent incident in which an Evangelist conference was announced by Canon J John with no women speakers. When she tweeted Canon J John rather than respond directly the Canon tweeted that he'd noticed "interesting chatter on Twitter. We did invite women to speak at conf. But unavailable. We support both Men + Women Evangelists."
God Loves Women wrote: "That J. John chose to describe my legitimate concerns about the lack of representation of women as "chatter" greatly saddens me. This is further compounded in his assertion that they asked women and that no women were available. To state that out of all the female evangelists working fulltime on sharing the Gospel across the UK, none were available is outrageous."
As God Loves Women points out, rather than show how irrelevant the Church has become it shows how women continue to be ignored and those who get to positions of power are seemingly resented not through their inability to perform their professional role but their insistence on performing it as women.