Bill Farrelly enters the lion's den with the headline he chose for today's article. Fear not, gentle souls, he has come to smite a certain type of man — funnily enough, the sort that are often seen parading around in dresses. Bill's trying to curry favour with the other half of humanity — and making a few hard-hitting points at the same time. It's doubtful though if the men in dresses might be capable of listening yet.
The Trouble with Women
by Bill Farrelly
I HAVE a problem with women.
My problem is this: Excluding the thousands of selfless nuns to whom millions are indebted, there aren't enough women in the places where you are often most needed. Who am I kidding? There aren't any of you in the place you are perhaps most essential — the altars of the Catholic Church.
Why won't the Church open its eyes to this ignorance, this arrogance? And please, don't give me the 'equal but different' argument. It doesn't wash.
But let's go back a bit. Why didn't Jesus set the example by having women among the apostles? If you're going to tell me that they had to look after the kids and the home, well, what about the blokes who dropped what they were doing and took up the Cause?
Besides, couldn't Jesus have chosen single women or women without children? So what if it would have challenged men's image of themselves? So what if it would have been a cultural oddity? Doubtless Jesus had a reason but I am sure he is not troubled by my asking these questions.
Have you ever read or listened to Sister Joan Chittister? Of all the beautiful women in my life, this Benedictine nun has had the most influence on awakening me to the priceless contribution women can make to this world if only they are given the opportunity.
Why are so many men frightened of powerful, knowledgeable women? And I used to be one of them. I preferred you to be only 'feminine' and alluring, soft and appealing — appealing, it occurs to me now, to my male vanity perhaps? Or, worse, my own insecurity. And in truth, allure and softness still hold strong attraction for me in the feminine.
Am I suggesting that an intelligent, powerful woman cannot also be a femme fatale? If I am, I'm wrong.
Another challenging notion — why was Jesus a man? Why does the the saviour of the world have to be a man? Once again, for those among you who fear I am bordering on sacriledge, I am confident God will not hold me to account for using the brain he gave me.
Just so you know, I am not troubled by Jesus being a man and I would hazard a guess that almost every woman feels the same way. Part of the reason for this is that Jesus is also God and God is both male and female. To further confuse the matter, I also consider he is neither male nor female.
Joan Chittister is a feminist — but she is the kind of feminist every man can warm to. This is her definition of feminism:
Feminism is not about turning women into men or men into women. It is about turning both women and men into full human beings. Then, every institution in the world will change and both men and women will be whole.
You can see why I am attracted to Joan Chittister. She has written many books, including Scarred by Trouble, Transformed by Hope; Heart of Flesh and Called to Question. The first of these three is available also on CD. I have often found listening to these sages to be more enlightening and healing than simply reading their words. Sister Joan also writes a weekly column for the National Catholic Reporter called From Where I Stand.
Some bishops, I am sure, believe hell will freeze over before a woman is ever welcomed into the priesthood. I'd like to have a wager with them on that — though, sadly, I do not expect it to happen in my lifetime. What is most shameful about this philosophy is what it says, to me at least, about their attitude to one half of God's human creation.
I have stood proudly, if a little nervously — the cardinal was nearby — on the forecourt of St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, holding a banner proclaiming support for the ordination of women.
It will happen, one day.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?