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.