Last year, I came home from Diocesan Synod and wrote a post called feminism 101. Well, it’s that time of year again.
Only this time it is more complicated (those of you au fait with American course titles will realize we’re in ‘first level – honours’ now.) This year at synod there was less overt sexism. There were even occasional nods at trying to avoid sexist language, and at one point a reminder that at Lambeth ‘bishops’ spouses’ would include men (sadly, right before said spouses were referred to as ladies, but that was just a slip, right?)
But what became clear was that while some people were trying to be careful with language, there was very little understanding of concept. So, here is this year’s post-synod lesson — and as always, you can assume that I am not commenting on anything unless it was ‘done’ by more than one person:
- it does no good using inclusive terms if you look at one of two particular women in the room each time you do so.
- sexist concepts are more offensive than sexist language
- be very careful of praising women (sorry, ‘ladies’) for being particularly or uniquely good at something. You risk devaluing both the men who are also good at it and the women who are not.
Now, a cry for help…
I have realised that feminist theory is one area of my knowledge that I find it hard to translate into appropriate terms for the congregation. It is hard to move from ‘for us men and for our salvation’ to Luce Irigaray, and my knowledge base is too limited.
So, a few of us are beginning to talk about creating a resource with the working title ‘feminism for congregations’. If you can help — by suggesting resources, methods, stories; or by taking part in the project — please get in touch. I don’t quite know when I will get around to this, and would be glad for someone else to take the helm, but we need to do something…