i love rev, i really do, it's sharp insight leaves most clergy wincing and laughing in equal measure. and this week we saw, come to life on our screens that most vulnerable of relationships, the curate/ vicar ensemble.
enter our world.....curate abi.
isn't she great, isn't she lovely, isn't she teeth grittingly annoying....
the thing was that, on the surface she did absolutely nothing wrong, she was bright, good looking, energetic. but she was also stonkingly un self-aware and/or deliberately unkind. she did the 'wide-eyed' 'what have i done wrong' thing well - because of course she hadn't done anything 'wrong', she'd done what she'd been asked to do. but sometimes it really doesn't matter if the vestry is colour-coded and highly efficient - sometimes it's, in fact, really important that it's mildly chaotic (frankly, if you've got a reader who's as anal as nigel, it might be better)
i don't think that adam smallbone was really ever the stereotypical 'insecure' vicar, who can't let his bright young(ish) female curate shine - so suddenly making him that character was slightly inconsistent - and as a training incumbent, it would be adam's job to give her space, but also to help her understand the nature and dynamics of relationship. here was a woman, with a PhD, but who couldn't fathom the basics of her relationship with adam.
i guess one of the problems with rev, is that the research is done amongst vicars. and this relationship between the vicar and the curate - and now especially between young female curate and older male incumbent - is one that has notoriously been about the insecurities of the vicar and the competency of the curate. i don't buy it. we all have insecurities. quite frankly colour coding the vestry seems to show up a high level of insecurity. i know that when i'm feeling insecure i can pretend to be highly efficient. and don't get me started on the equating of being on 'twitter' as representing a 'better' priest....
i've noticed that 'bright young thing' is becoming the new stereotype for ordained women - and because most of us who might at a push fit this category are still curates, this kind of stereotyping comes a little too close to the mark for me. it especially comes close to the mark if it means that i'm being made to compete with my female colleagues about who is the 'brightest youngest thing on the block'. it's a pathway that is opened up before us my lovely female colleagues and i suggest we avoid it like the plague. i will not pretend that i'm on top of everything all the time, that my house is ordered and my relationships are great. or that i entirely 'get' all the social networking that's going on (i like it, i can't deny it, but sometimes it bewilders me). and whilst doing all this, i'll set up new services left right and centre and preach the best sermons ALL the time.
in the 80s, women had the curse of the oxo mum to contend with - yes, women, go out to work, but now you have to be the superwoman and do it all. now, for ordained women, we have the curse of abi, be the perfect wide-eyed innocent, bright, beautiful, high achieving, media savvy curate, whilst making sure that you've pissed off your incumbent just the right amount that you get yourself moved 'up the clergy career ladder' for the privilege. yeuch.
i have to say i think i'll take vicar of dibley all the way