English: Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx, cropped from group photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So the Church of England has voted against women bishops. Most of this morning’s TV news coverage included shots of dog-collared women weeping openly after the result was announced. At the moment of their greatest defeat, they were not afraid to cry.
It is a theological debate in which I have little interest, despite a natural preference to see women represented equally in all walks of life. The Anglican Church has, like golf clubs, an archaic structure and practices that require women to accept a subordinate role. Permissive access, granted only to those that accept the Rules. Wear a jacket. Wear a tie. Become a priest, but not a bishop. Accept that you can enter this bar but not that one. Turn left, but not right.
I am reminded of Groucho Marx’s response to his lack of clubbability. Women in robes preaching from a pulpit do not make the Church any more or less attractive or relevant to me. This is a world in which Savita Halappanavar can die a painful and needless death, in which a girl’s education is a bullet in the head, in which women still cannot drive, or speak freely, or work equally; a world where millions of women still cannot access medical help, travel or obtain justice without male permission. Would the ordination of women bishops really advance the cause of women worldwide?
Birth and death, fertility and procreation. Women’s greatest mysteries also build the toughest prisons. So shed those tears, sisters, but weep for women, not for glory.
I’m not known for my outgoing personality, and the online anonymity of Mumsnet has been a lifesaver for me over the last few years, helping me with career highs and lows, child rearing, emotional crises and nearly every funny story I know….. So I signed up for BlogFest with trepidation.
This morning, Millbank Tower is full of women, all Mumsnetters, all bloggers, and all members of this amazing community of women – or nest of vipers, as we like to be known. Already, the astonishing Miriam Gonzales Durantez has delivered a keynote speech which was truly inspiring – talking of the wonderful support that MN can provide, and reminding us of the parallels and contrasts between our lives and the lives of the women in Africa with whom she works through the charity she co-founded: Circle of Lawyers..
Now we are into Finding Your Voice, a panel discussion with Zoe Williams, Rachel Cusk, Zoe Strimpel, and the hilarious Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, who is currently appearing as a hologram on a large screen. It’s 4am where she is right now: that’s dedication! Rachel Cusk has just told us that she got expelled from school for her first writing, – but has neatly sidestepped questions about using your own family as material – Zoe Wiliams that she got fired from Now Magazine for finding her voice…. Zoe Strimpel is warning against writing in a confessional style unless we are sure that we can cope with the sensitivities of personal exposure – over sharing, moi? Best line so far…..’my husband at the time…’ Oh, and it’s less than an hour into BlogFest and the word ‘asshole’ has already come up twice…..right sweary bunch, we are :)
..and check out Zoe Williams’ gorgeous heels :)