Earlier this week a group called Proper Provision (from what I can gather the women of Reform) presented the Bishops with a petition regarding the Women Bishops legislation that the House of Bishops is debating almost as I type this.
I do find this kind of thing highly ironic and not a little bit irritating.
Reform, is a group formed specifically to prevent women from getting their pretty little female hands on anything like any kind of authority to run a church all by their fluffy headed little selves. How on earth they think that using women to be figureheads for being anti a church where women are listened to, is beyond me.
Are we to allow women to use their voices or not?
Come on Reform! You can't have it both ways.
You cannot point at these women and say - 'You see, we're right, listen to the women', and at the same time be using these women to bring the message 'Don't listen to women!'
It's sheer nonsense.
To me it entirely exposes the kind of thinking and non-thinking that goes on at the heart of an institution like Reform who, on one level, think they are really doing women a favour. And some women are convinced that they are. When I was at college I often found myself at the brunt of other women's ire. It was painful, but it did lead me to ask the question as to why I was such a pain in the arse to some of them. It really was as if my raising the point or just exposing some of the sexism that I saw or experienced, was taken as a betrayal of the unwritten Code of Women, which goes something like this....
'Don't point out that we're women, or someone will notice and stop us from playing'
'Don't ask for the shape of things to change, be grateful we've been allowed in at all'
Of course at college it was slightly different from the Reform nonsense because there was some semblance of women being allowed to be ordained and run churches, but some of the outworkings are the same.
If you spend your spiritual life being told that you are 'equal but different' as the Reform Women are told, then the narrow area of ministry that you are then offered seems not only wise and generous, but you will absolutely guard it with your life because it is your whole world and it is being controlled by those who tell you that they are in control - they are in control because they are the ones in control and they say who gets to be in control. You are given all your self-worth through the eyes of those who control the barriers to your potential. To be actively seen to be colluding with the power-holders will increase your sense of belonging to that group and give you affirmation from those who hold the key to your possible potential. Those who are seen to be trying to demolish these boundaries are seen as traitors and world-destroyers.
In college the atmosphere was one of not upsetting the applecart. Women who smoothed any turbulence found that their affirmation from some of the men increased. It doesn't take too long for us to learn that 'keeping the peace' is the way to belong and 'upsetting the status quo' is a fasttrack to exclusion and suspicion. Of course a lot of women in an evangelical college have been well schooled in this for a long time. It takes quite a lot of courage to choose to claim the emperor has no clothes anyway.
It's really tough when women work against each other, and it is tough for women to break the rules of the communities that they've grown up in and to which they belong.
But I also have enough respect for women to say that you cannot at the same time 'Speak Up', when the message you bring is 'Shut Up'.