A Binder Full of Women in Every Pot!

A Binder Full of Women in Every Pot! October 17, 2012

I tend to watch the debates with Twitter and Facebook open.  When both candidates are committed to not answering the question asked, my temper gets short, and I need the snarky tweets of Tristyn to be able to go on without hitting something.  So I saw the memification of “binders full of women” play out in real time, and I was ticked off.

If you care to pop over to The Huffington Post, I have a piece up praising the actual content of Romney’s answer:

There are a lot of things about Romney I don’t like, but what he did to address sexism was excellent, and I’m frustrated it’s being treated as a laugh line by other liberals. What he did was (sadly) pretty remarkable:

  1. Romney noticed they weren’t thinking of hiring women
  2. He assumed this indicated a problem with his team’s process instead of evidence that no qualified women existed
  3. He realized he and his team didn’t know how to find well-qualified women
  4. So he turned to womens’ groups for guidance
  5. And then he hired women!

Most organizations don’t make it very far past step one. They assume the dearth of qualified women is a fact about the world, not evidence of their own bias or problems in the pipeline. Even though, just this month, another study came out showing that men and women rate a sample resume as less qualified if there’s a woman’s name at the top of the page.

Reporting the day after reveals that Romney didn’t take as much initiative to gather data as he claimed, but I’d love to have more people come out to praise the story he told as a model for executives and HR folks.

When we talk about male privilege, people’s hackles go up.  Are we just telling them that they suck?  That they suck too much to be able to act?  Nope!  We’re saying you need more data, and you may need help noticing what kind of data you need.  In his story, Romney turned to others when he lacked expertise, and didn’t resent them for helping him deal with a blind spot.

His anecdote may not have been true, but I sure wish other people would make it so.

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  • Ted Seeber

    Just about every Catholic Parish I know has followed this method in spades. Oh, sure, the “ordinary ministry of the Eucharist” is still closed to women, due to historical and theological reasons, but the “extraordinary minisrty of the Eucharist” is open, and I don’t know any priest or even any Bishop or Archbishop that doesn’t have a staff made up at least 75% of women (and sometimes closer to 90%). In many parishes, the only dude in the office is the pastor, and EVERYBODY else is female.

    • Steve

      Yeah I was just thinking of all the women in positions of power in the church… like all the women popes, and all the women cardinals, and all the women archbishops, and all the women bishops, and all the women priests…

      But you’re right, it’s nice to know there are plenty of women in the back office answering phones and sending faxes… cause that’s really what equality is, right??

      • ACN

        Whoa Steve, but men don’t have the privilege of getting pregnant. We have to compensate by giving them magic powers with regards to bread and wine.

        Or something.

        • Ted Seeber

          Close enough, but yes.

      • Ted Seeber

        Cardinals, Archbishops, and Popes aren’t positions of power. Haven’t you ever read the Gospel that the Last Shall Be First and the First Shall Be Last?

        • Steve

          I stand corrected. Silly of me to think Cardinals, Archbishops & Popes were positions of power in the church. In fact by your estimation it appears women would undoubtedly be considered ‘First’. As they wield no real power at all in this universe, they must be all powerful in this imaginary universe you speak of.

          • Ted Seeber

            Especially in the “Imaginary Universe” of Motherhood, of which you seem to know nothing.

          • Steve

            I’m afraid my knowledge of motherhood is limited to simply being a father, so my information is second hand.

            And I’m sure that’s a comforting fact for women, that their ability to bear children (at least those who can and do) is why they’re continually denied any real presence in positions of power within the church.

            Maybe Romney shouldn’t have ran with a half-assed story to clumsily try to appeal to women, and should have said “Well, being that you have a working uterus, I don’t see why any of you should be working for my administration.”

        • ACN

          Oh so the positions of power aren’t actually positions of power, THAT must be why we don’t let the women serve in any of them.

          Well, I suppose it’s possible that you’re right and we’re actually living in Bizarro-World.

          I think it’s FAR more parsimonious to point out that the patriarchal organization probably wants to retain all of its patriarchal power.

          • Ted Seeber

            It may be more parsimonious, but it isn’t the truth. There is a reason why the Pope is called the Servant of Servants, perhaps you should find out why before blathering on.

      • Ted Seeber

        2nd answer- answering the phones, sending faxes, often making the real decisions when the supposed boss is off elsewhere, IS the real power.

        • Steve

          Yes… as when the Catholic Church moves, it’s due less to the commands of the pope & cardinals and more do to Margaret, assistant church secretary from Birmingham, Alabama. The ability to call someone and let them know you received their faxed paperwork for the monthly AA meeting in the church basement is REAL POWER.

          • Ted Seeber

            Or more normally- to reject their faxed paperwork for a meeting in the Church basement because Margaret didn’t like the legal risk your group represents.

            You might have the Pastor behind you, but if Margaret doesn’t put you on the calendar, you ain’t going to get anywhere at all.

          • Steve

            You sound like a guy in the mail room who thinks he’s the most important guy in the company because he has a fancy cart that has everyones paychecks.

            Seriously though, you’re making the world dumber when you type.

          • Ted Seeber

            Well, maybe at one time. Since then I’ve become the guy who keeps the computers working so that the company can have records of their customers.

      • Actually most men are not called to the priesthood either. So it does not just exclude women. I can’t be a pope, cardinal, or bishop either. God chooses leaders for His church. If He does not choose us we just need to accept that. If He does choose us we need to accept that too!

        • Steve

          It seems having a penis is a mandatory qualification for god choosing a church leader. It seems women have to accept that.

          • jose

            Objective moral law, friend.

          • Christ was male. I can easily see some people objecting to that after the fact – how unfair of God to incarnate as a MAN – but it’s the case. Yes, everyone, men and women, do have to accept that. Also, Mary rather than Joseph occupies a supreme place of respect in the Church. If that’s “unfair”, then your definition of fairness is horribly warped.

            And Ted is right – to view the clergy as a “position of power”, period, is a mistake. If that’s what being a priest or a bishop means to someone, then they shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it. Men included. Also, ‘power’ is had by plenty of religious women, from nuns (again, sometimes wrongly) to otherwise. Is there utter equality? No, there is not – not in either the church or the world, and the lack of equality on those terms is not automatically “unfair”.

            If a woman being clergy is a make or break issue for you, please break and hit the episcopalians – or change your mind.

          • ACN

            Being a member of the clergy is a position of power, respect, and authority in the catholic church.

            You can repeat “first last, last first” proverbs until you’re blue in the face, but it doesn’t change this. Those are, however, a pretty neat misdirection if you’d like a class of people to not dwell excessively on why one of the central roles in their organization is barred from them.

          • Being a member of the clergy is a position of power, respect, and authority in the catholic church.

            And anyone who sees it as only that – or who thinks that the fact that there’s some amount of power, respect or authority involves means that all people should automatically be entitled to it in principle – should be kept as far away from the clergy as possible regardless.

            Those are, however, a pretty neat misdirection

            And therein lies the problem. The very possibility that Catholic teaching on this front is correct is ruled out automatically. If the conclusion is the wrong one – that the clergy is properly all-male – then clearly the issue is one of misdirection and keeping women down. The possibility that the conclusion is correct is deemed wrong before the conversation starts, which is why no conversation at all takes place: because the moment it’s a live possibility, the argument for female clergy is already lost.

          • It seems having a penis is a mandatory qualification

            For priesthood, it is. A man who has been castrated cannot be ordained a priest. That rule goes back to the time of Moses.

          • Steve

            You can rationalize & justify based on church dogma all you like. You can pretend that the positions of power in the church somehow don’t really count as positions of power, like the whole church world celebrates a continual ‘opposite-day’. You can bring of completely irrelevant information about jesus being a man like it has relevance in the slightest to the perpetual slighting of women, when of course it does not. This is both your prerogative and wildly idiotic.

          • ACN

            There is a set of offices in an organization. Said offices come with power, authority, and respect. To hold said offices, it is NECESSARY condition to have a particular set of genitalia. Anyone with the wrong set of genitalia is a priori barred from holding this set of offices. Why? Well you see, when the omnipotent lord of the universe incarnated himself on the planet, he had those same set of genitalia.

            But don’t worry, it’s not sexist, it’s not misogynistic, and it isn’t a relic of patriarchy!

            Suppose that you and I were talking with a third person who came from a cultural background with similar patriarchal baggage, but from a religious background (say, a mystery cult of Thoth) that was explicitly not-coherent with catholicism. When asked why they don’t allow females to be part of the clergy they reply “Oh well, you see, Thoth came to Earth manifesting in the body of a man, and since the clergy represent the role of Thoth’s incarnation on earth, women are barred from this role”.

            I would criticize such an organization for being sexist. Their organization has a central leadership role with power and authority that is barred for access from women for no other reason than the set of genitals they possess. What would you say? You couldn’t claim that “well, maybe Thoth really did have male genitals”. Actually, I suppose you could, although it would be pretty silly as a catholic, to claim that someone else’s supernatural belief system that is explicitly incoherent with your own, was metaphysically true. I guess you could claim that it’s a peculiar and arbitrary but not sexist, and defend their right to form their religion on whatever arbitrary criteria/rules they want. Sure, but isn’t it awfully ignorant to ignore the role that patriarchy and sexism could play in the codified leadership and power structure of an organization?

            As an outside observer, I see an organizational structure that codifies patriarchy and I criticize it. I think that if you saw the same behavior in an organization that you were an outsider to, that you would and criticize it for what it was as well.

          • Vicky

            As a woman, please let me say just this: You don’t have to be a member of the clergy to be a leader of the Church or to have ‘power’. Have there been powerful women in the history of the Church? The answer is yes; Saint Teresa of Jesus, Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Saint Clare of Assisi, Saint Bridget of Sweden, Saint Gertrude the Great, Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn, Saint Caterina of Siena (who wasn’t even a nun), among many others, were really ‘powerful’ women. They were true leaders of the Church because people (bishops, cardinals and popes included) respected them, listened to what they said and followed their teachings.

            By the way, the fact that Jesus was a man is not irrelevant at all. Actually, it has everything to do with it . It is exactly because the fact that Christ is male, that only males can be ordained priests. There’s a theological explanation but I’ll put it simple: a priest ‘impersonates’ Christ so to speak and a woman can’t impersonate a man, well she could but it would be fake, she’d never be a real man. That’s the reason.

          • The priest is (within Orthodox Christianity and, at least at one point, Roman Catholicism) acting as an icon of Jesus Christ and so is understood to be required to be male. This is a theological viewpoint and not one of sexual power politics.

          • Steve

            Pretending that the ‘theological viewpoint’ is somehow different from ‘sexual power politics’ is simply lazy rationalizing used to ignore the self-evident fact that women are recognized as less than a man.

          • Irenist

            “the self-evident fact that women are recognized as less than a man.”
            Were you born with this mind-reading ability, Steve, or did you take a correspondence course?

          • Steve

            That something is ‘self-evident’ implies you don’t need to read anyones mind for the information to be available. My claim of “the self-evident fact that women are recognized as less than a man,” is backed up by the 0 (zero) members of women in positions of authority in the church. This is, by definition, patriarchal. This evidence stands by itself (hence ‘SELF-EVIDENT’) and doesn’t require magical powers to point out. And don’t give me the crap about ‘the power to birth children’ or ‘nuns have power’ or ‘jesus was a man, so, you know, it’s OK’.

          • Steve
            No, it is theology.

            Clearly if you are a non-believer then you must think that theology is founded on “just so” stories that rationalize, for example, power structures. However a believer would argue that theology is founded on revealed truth. There can be no debate between these two viewpoints because they rely on starkly different axioms.

            For a non-believer, calling a priest an icon of Jesus Christ is nonsensical as the priesthood is simply an example of a misogynistic patriarchy that should be open to ‘reform’. To a believer the priesthood is a continuation of the ministry of Jesus Christ through apostolic succession and as such is not open to ‘reform’ as this would be a violation of holy tradition — the teaching of Jesus Christ as maintained and protected by His Church.

            There is an argument that can be made for female priests but your contempt for the Church makes it invisible to you as it would be akin to arguing whether Superman or Captain Marvel would win in a fight.

          • Steve

            Darrell… It’s funny how many judeo-christian ‘revealed truths’ so often conveniently favor men over women. That that is the church way is not the issue. That it is inconsistent with the sentiment expressed in the original blog post is.

            Contempt is a little strong for my view of the church, though I’m often willing to be critical. I don’t see which arguments I might be invisible to me… which is of course a funny sentence when read back. Still, explain.

            9 Time out of 10 Superman wins that fight.

          • Steve

            You’d have to explicate the ‘revealed truths’ that you believe ‘favor men over women.’ I should also add that I am not a Roman Catholic but an Orthodox Christian — what you’d likely call an Eastern Orthodox.

            The argument favoring female priests would be that what is essential to the icon of Jesus Christ is his ‘humanness’ not his ‘maleness’ and that the apostles were not ordinated by Jesus Christ but that the ordination occurred by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost — when both men and women were present.

        • Irenist

          To clarify, I don’t think it’s self-evident. But thank you for your helpful definition of the term. Continued assertions that people who claim to be constrained by a belief (“God has revealed that the priesthood is to be male-only”) are in fact concocting the belief out of a secret misogynistic agenda are unfounded accusations of bad faith, though. Demonstrate, from within a perspective that accepts for argument’s sake that Catholic dogma as true, how the admitted problem of too few laywomen in positions of power at the Roman Curia contradicts the Gospel, and you will have my hearing. Just assert that Catholic dogma is all a conspiratorial sham, and you will have my contempt, as someone who accuses my religion and all who practice it of hypocritical bad faith, instead of making a constructive argument that engages Catholics as interlocutors who actually believe what we say we do.
          In the meantime, I leave you with this:

          “In reality, however, the last few decades have seen a broad trend towards appointing women to positions of ecclesiastical leadership that don’t require sacramental ordination.
          In the United States, for example, 48.4 percent of all administrative positions in dioceses today are held by women. At the most senior levels, 26.8 percent of executive positions are held by women.
          On Thursday, another crack in the glass ceiling appeared in the Vatican itself: For only the second time, a lay woman was appointed to one of the three key leadership positions inside a dicastery, or department, of the Roman Curia.
          On Jan. 21, Pope Benedict XVI named Italian lay woman Flaminia Giovanelli, 61, a longtime official of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, as the new under-secretary of that council.”

          More: http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/lay-woman-named-key-vatican-job

          • Steve

            These ‘executive positions’… where do they lie on the church heirarchy? Above or below priests?
            Members of the Pontifical Council for Justice & Peace… Above or below the pope?
            To clarify, by ‘laywomen’, we’re talking about every woman on the planet, correct??

            My points, which I’ve mentioned many times are 2 fold. 1) The gender inequity in a church patriarchal is a truism, regardless of whether or not it contradicts catholic practices and whether or not catholic women are OK with it… and 2) This inequality is inconsistent with feminist sentiment, especially those expressed in the original blog post.

          • Skittle

            “To clarify, by ‘laywomen’, we’re talking about every woman on the planet, correct?”

            Not necessarily. “Laity” is used in two ways in a Catholic context: one sense is “everyone who is not ordained”, but another sense is “everyone who is not a religious” (nuns, monks, brothers, etc), and it sometimes gets used to mean a sort of overlapping, more narrow group of people, being “everyone who is neither ordained, nor a religious”.

            When someone uses the term “laywoman”, unless they’re specifically contrasting with ordained female clergy in some religion, they’re probably meaning that she isn’t a nun or sister or otherwise consecrated.

          • Hey Steve, I’m an actual female Catholic — do I get to have a say? Because I have been both a devout Catholic and a feminist my entire life, and I have never seen a contradiction in that. I have never felt inferior, inadequate, devalued or powerless in my Church, nor have I ever encountered a priest who treated me as anything less than an equal (and I know a number of priests). I see all those female administrators at work (whose work you devalue as unimportant and irrelevant), I see the women who head up the religious education programs which teach future generations and converts, I see the women who are getting PhDs in theology, I see the female professors who teach the seminarians, I see the women who run most of the programs and charities. I see the veneration of the female saints and Doctors of the Church who contributed greatly to the Church’s theology and philosophy.

            So tell me — is it at all possible that the Church is not the bastion of sexism and misogyny you seem to think it is, or am I just some poor, deluded woman who needs a man like you to enlighten her about the Church?

      • deiseach

        And technically, women (or lay men) could be cardinals, since that is not a clerical order but rather a position that arose out of granting offices in the curial governance of the Church. There were so-called lay cardinals who were in minor orders, but since minor orders have been abolished (since the reforms of Vatican II), technically these could be revived and granted to lay men and women.

        Since the 1917 revision of the Code of canon law, it is required that cardinals are bishops or priests; you must distinguish between the office of cardinal and the requirement that the holder of such office be ordained. Now, since only men may be admitted to holy orders in the Catholic Church, you can argue about the patriarchy there, but that’s a different argument – and one that falls prey to clericalism, that is, only those ordained (both male and female) are holders of power and the laity (both male and female) are inferior. Denominations which ordain or otherwise grant ministerial positions to women also fall into the trap of ‘ordained versus lay’ power struggles.

        • Steve

          So that would make the number of women in these positions…. what exactly?

          • Irenist

            I see that the President/CEO and the Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism are both men. That means that atheism is false, right?

          • Steve

            That’s simply an idiotic comparison. While I’m not familiar with this particular organization, I’m fairly certain that there are no bylaws prohibiting women from having these positions, in this organization or any other notable secular organization, and in fact that exclusion goes specifically against what many if not most of these groups stand for. In addition, you’ve named 2 members of 1 sub-group, the equivalent of naming a priest and a bishop and using that as my only evidence for criticizing the outdated patriarchal structure of the church. My sample size of data for my claims is the sum of all the churches clergy from the churches inception to present day. Your sample size is 2 guys from a single group. This might be the silliest non-Ted comment on this post.

          • Irenist

            The point of my “idiotic comparison” was to allude to the idea that Catholic truth claims (including those about whether or not God has revealed that sacerdotal ordination should be reserved to men) do not stand or fall on data like yours, any more than atheism does. While it is true that your claim was that Catholicism is misogynistic (rather than that it is false), your continuing refusal to acknowledge that Catholics might actually believe Catholic dogma, rather than conspiratorially concoct it to oppress women, makes it hard to have a serious, polite discussion with you. Also, the clear implication I draw from your remarks–which is that my Catholic wife, mother, sister, etc. are so stupid as to think of themselves as mere “baby makers” merely because they are faithful Catholics, is one that I find unspeakably offensive. But, please, Steve, continue to insult all Catholic women in your feminist quest. Let me know how that turns out.

          • Steve

            The truth of your religious claims bear no regard to the fact that women aren’t allowed to take the important authoritative roles within the church. I don’t know how many popes & cardinals there have been, but I believe (and correct me if I’m wrong) that the number of women who’ve held these roles has been 0 (zero) for the history of the church. That’s compelling evidence to support my claim, and it has nothing to do with the truth of your actual beliefs. You believe women should be submissive to men. OK. Good for you. I’m within my right then to simply point this out.

            In addition, and I’ve said this before as well, the idea that women are excluded by doctrine from holding positions of authority is inconsistent with the sentiment behind the original blog post. And again, your beliefs or their possible truisms are irrelevant to this as well. I clearly think more of women than simply ‘baby-makers’ (which in fairness was admittedly an exaggeration of the churches position), thus my objections to this inequity. I don’t find yours or your families acceptance of these practices as stupid or idiotic, though some of your defenses of them and justifications for them were.

          • Irenist

            “You believe women should be submissive to men.”
            No, I don’t. My first post on this thread was about how Romney’s answer on women’s equality in the workplace was insufficient. But then, you don’t seem to grok others’ viewpoints very well: your attempt to be a feminist combox paladin has led you to spend much of this discussion mansplaining Catholicism to female Catholics who know far, far, far more about it than you do. Maybe you should rethink your approach.

        • The Minor Orders are still validly conferred in the Societies of Apostolic life that celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass). The Pope has said this old rite and all practices associated with it were never abrogated with the introduction of the New Order Missae in 1969, and as such it is valid for any priest or Bishop to use. This can be seen with the FSSP or Institute of Christ the King, both groups that are in full communion with the Holy See and practice the Traditional Latin Mass and sacraments exclusively.

      • Iota

        [Full disclosure: not-very-good-but-aspiring-Catholic woman, no theological training]

        Steve, ACN

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but the issue of women’s ordination seems like a smokescreen, in most cases of debate about Catholicism.

        Arguments about women’s ordination seem to stem (mostly) from a much deeper theological disagreement with the Catholic Church, ranging from the atheist perspective (that all religions are bogus anyway), though some sort of vague ideas that the Church is just a social institution (God’s grace and guidance don’t come into play) to “smaller” ones (in terms of overall scope, not gravity), such as the idea that, say – ordaining women would result in a change in Catholic sexual ethics (i.e. that the Church is wrong on this and it’s keeping that teaching merely out of misogyny).

        Women’s ordination is not going to happen in the Catholic Church, apparently, for doctrinal reasons. Also, given the rest of what the Catholic Church teaches, the absence of women in Holy Orders is not necessarily a problem – if one believes what the Catholic Church teaches:

        e.g. that sexual morality as understood by the Church is a sensible and coherent moral position, that neither men nor women would be in position to change; that neither men nor women are morally superior so that a man can be a good confessor for women (if he tries his best – if he doesn’t he’s a bad confessor anyway, for both genders); that the priest stands in for Christ who is the One behind the administering of a sacrament; that administering the sacraments IS a service (so any man trying to exercise power through their administration is actually always in the wrong, regardless of motive), etc.

        If someone doesn’t believe some or all of those things, however, then of course they might object to the lack of women priests and bishops. But then women’s ordination doesn’t seem to be the answer. Because the problem is, in that case, the issue of the Church’s authority in general.

        Unless for someone the lack of Holy Orders for women is the true and core objection to Catholicism, I’d suggest the thing to be addressed should not be women’s ordination, but the actual core objection which, in this case, seems to be the Church’s authority in general. Otherwise the issue of women’s rights becomes instrumentalized in debate. Which, perhaps wrongly, is the vibe in which I’m getting here…

        Or to reference ACN’s analogy: either belief in Thoth is true or not. If it is not true, then the problem is not whether you can ordain Thoth-priestesses or not, but that anyone believes in Thoth at all. If belief in Thoth is true, you start making theological arguments (rather than sociological ones), because you have to take into account Thoth-theology (if Thoth exists knowledge about the traditions concerning Thoth’s worship is relevant). Notice: making said arguments requires a lot of knowledge about Thoth-theology, most probably. Saying: “But it’s stupid” is insufficient.

        PS. I’m not a particular fan of the argument (as posited by Ted) that while men have access to Holy Orders, women have motherhood and that explains things. I don’t think that’s the best way to “explain” male-exclusive Holy Orders. But, as I wrote, I don’t think that’s your core objection to Catholicism. Or is it?

        • Steve

          Iota, I appreciate your well-thought response.

          Bear in mind, I’m not debating whether or not women ordination (or lack there of) is consistent with Catholic teaching, nor so long as they are willing participants and aren’t harmed do I have an issue with women who don’t object to being relegated to life’s passenger seat. To each their own, and being a willing submissive isn’t something I’d judge as right or wrong, though I’ll admit it will not be an value I instill in my daughter.

          None of this, however changes what are ultimately my 2 points. 1) Church patriarchal hierarchy does by definition regard women as less worth of positions of authority. Being OK with this does not change this fact. and 2) This inequity is not at all consistent with the sentiments expressed in the original blog post.

          • Irenist

            “Church patriarchal hierarchy does by definition regard women as less worth of positions of authority. ”
            Hmm. Perhaps the misconception involves thinking that a vocation to Holy Orders makes you “worth more” than layperson. In Catholic thinking, it doesn’t. Now, it is true, as a pragmatic matter of ecclesiastical governance, that much of the governing power of the Church is in sacerdotal, and therefore male, hands. But that seems to me like an argument for moving more Catholic nuns and laywomen into administrative positions in dioceses and the Roman Curia, and into theological professorships at Catholic universities, and letting bishops and priests concentrate more on their liturgical duties. And, indeed, that is exactly what has been slowly beginning to happen in the Church in the last few decades. If your concern is with power and authority, then the increasingly female demographics of parish and curial administration and theological scholarship should be encouraging. All ordination would add to that would, primarily, be the ability to consecrate the Eucharist and hear confessions. No small things, to be, sure, but not things primarily involving power of the realpolitik sort. Is that at all responsive, or am I still misunderstanding you? Thanks.

          • Iota


            “Church patriarchal hierarchy does by definition regard women as less worth of positions of authority.”

            AFAIK, he actual Church teaching as such (not various traditions, folk opinions or other stuff that gets passed around as “authoritative Church teaching”) is not that women are “less worthy”, but that the Church has no idea whether it’s allowed to ordain them as priests (because Jesus Christ, while being VERY feminist for a 1st century Jew, did not ordain any women), so it won’t do so (the validity of ordination is a BIG deal within Catholicism, considering Catholic beliefs about the Eucharist).

            This is equivalent to me trying to apply to a University to confer on me a degree it is not allowed to confer. I might be eminently worthy of becoming a Ph.D. in molecular biology, but my local Art School just can’t give me that degree, regardless of whether I am “worthy,” because that is not the metric.

            However, I have a more fundamental question I’d like to clear up:
            My confessor (for example – this seems t be the position of most immediate sacerdotal authority) has no authority over me that I do not give him in the first place. I choose to identify as a Catholic, I choose to continue going to Mass, I choose to accept Catholic moral theology, etc. Had I chosen any other thing, at any other point, my parish priest, my confessor, my bishop or even the pope could do nothing to stop me. All they COULD do is declare me excommunicated, which basically means (by today’s standards) “This person is not a member of the community and is not allowed to receive the sacraments”. Which, if I did not believe their truth-claims, would be as great a punishment as being expelled from the Dickens Readers’ Club if you no longer read Dickens. Or being told I will go to Jahannam if I am non-Muslim.

            I view this as roughly the same kind of relationship I have with my doctors. For various reasons I will never have a diploma in medicine while relatively often being a patient. When one of the doctors I visit prescribes a treatment, I can accept the treatment or I can reject it. The doctor is free to warn me about the possible consequence of rejecting or the benefits of continuing therapy. I can accept or reject them, although I am not capable of actually testing all their claims (this is the part where they have authority, insofar as I believe their knowledge to be valid). Ultimately I bear the responsibility for my treatment because I will feel the consequences.

            Because I happen to believe that my current doctors are sufficiently well qualified, I generally trust them to make the right decisions. When I do not trust them (and this has happened), I discontinue or reject the treatment, although I do think I have an obligation to be VERY well informed if I do that. They have no “authority” over me in the traditional sense, because they cannot compel me to obey them.

            While you could make an argument about Catholicism in the past (and I’ll happily tell you what I think if you actually ask me about that), the past has virtually no practical bearing on the now. Even if (hypothetically) my grandmother could be compelled, by social pressure, to remain Catholic, I am not my grandmother Currently, the priests have no control over my life that I do not actually give them by assenting to Catholic teaching and voluntarily continuing to practice that faith. And if I do give them that power, it is because I trust them to make good use of it. Furthermore, I am still the object of the consequences, so that it’s in my best interest not give it to them mindlessly.

            Given all that, I give everyone the right to call me, for example, an idiot (for trusting priests). While I would respectfully disagree and (if asked) I would defend my position, that would be a sensible criticism.

            But I object to the idea that modern Catholic women are by default in “life’s passenger seat” unless you also wish to claim that students are in “life’s passenger seat” when they (freely) let professors teach them and grade them (and possibly even try to inculcate an spirit de corps in them!), patients are in “life’s passenger seat” when they (freely) let doctors treat them, etc. Notice: both with education and healthcare there is less change to avoid conferring authority because you can try to be “non-denominational” (although I’d say that’s not a wise choice) much easier than “never-treated”.

            If you WOULD actually say a non-hospitalized patient who chooses their own doctor and then proceeds to follow the suggested treatment is in “life’s passenger seat” (because their decision-making processes are highly influenced by the doctor) then I honestly fail to see how you can NOT teach your daughter that attitude to some extent (unless she is going to be a self-healing autodidact, fully independent of any other people in whom she would ever need to vest some authority, however temporarily).

            If you would NOT think said patient is in “life’s passenger seat” then what is the difference between the patient and a Catholic woman? Both confer authority on who they wish, both will suffer the consequences of any failure on the part of the person “in authority” and, at present at least, both do so, in general principle, freely.

            What am I missing?

          • I completely agree with Iota. Ordination for men only is something revealed, so if you don’t believe in any of our revelation, why bother arguing about one tiny bit of it?

            I am female too. I don’t feel oppressed. My husband is male, but he’s not a priest either. He doesn’t feel oppressed. Not everyone gets to be a priest, no, not even everyone who wants to. It’s a calling, and the bishop could say no for any number of reasons. Unless I were called to be a priest, I wouldn’t want to be one; and it is manifest that I am not called to be one (and neither have I had any interior prompting that suggests I could be called to be one).

            If what you are arguing is that there aren’t enough women in higher positions in the Vatican — fine! That’s something that can change, if more women get theology degrees and get their names out there, AND if the Vatican can be a bit open-minded and adjust. We’re beginning to move away from the clericalism that said everyone with any authority at all had to be a priest, but it will take awhile. Catholic women who are concerned about this should definitely agitate for change. There have been time periods where women had more power (I’m thinking specifically of early Middle Ages, when abbesses had a great deal of power, and freely commanded priests and other men), and we could get back to that.

            As far as women becoming priests, though, there’s no need for that. Priests are the ministers of the sacraments. They are called to do that as a SERVICE. It’s not the particular service I was called to. That doesn’t bother me; as Paul says, the foot should not say “because I am not an eye, I am worthless” and so on. Gifts are for service; anyone — ANYONE — aspiring to power within the Church is doing it wrong.

            One thing non-Catholics don’t seem to get is that power doesn’t really exist within the Church in the same way as other organizations. What would power mean? Why, the ability to change the doctrine. And no one may do that. Our church is one of fixed doctrine. We hear pronouncement after pronouncement, but all those pronouncements are allowed to say is, “What we said earlier still holds.” Sometimes they elaborate a bit — generally using explanations borrowed from theologians (who could be priests or lay, male or female). The only real “power” the Pope has is administrative. I’ve seen his job and I don’t want it. It’s a thankless job with a ton of work and no real perks.

          • Anodognosic

            Administrative power is power. It’s not the power to reverse Church doctrine, but it’s the power to lead one of the largest institutions in the Church. It’s the power to have your voice amplified the world over, choose which doctrines to emphasize and set policies about which doctrine is silent. It’s absurd on its face to say the papacy is not an office of power. And if living in luxury in some of the most beautiful buildings in Europe (clearly doing a good job of being an icon for Christ) isn’t a perk, I have to wonder what the hell kind of benefits package you’re getting.

            Also, the Church was not handed down from on high in its present form. The Bible is by no means clear on the question of female ordination, which means that what you have to go on is Church tradition. How can you NOT be skeptical of a tradition that was shaped in patriarchal societies and just so happened to only allow men in its highest hierarchies?

          • Andognostic

            To Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians the Holy Bible (which was not not intended to be read outside of the Church — at least not in the manner that commonly occurs today) is not something separate from Holy Tradition. That said, perhaps by tradition you mean something other than Holy Tradition.

          • Iota


            1) “, the Church was not handed down […]” – Some bits have been handed down at the very beginning of Church history, some haven’t. Some stuff is disciplinary (subject to change), some stuff is doctrinal (not subject to fundamental change). We can talk about that, if you want.

            2) “[…], which means that what you have to go on is Church tradition.” Actually, from what I understand, you have to start with church tradition (Catholics call that Apostolic Tradition) to even get to the Bible. So I implicitly include Apostolic Tradition when I talk about the Catholic accounts concerning Jesus, because it doesn’t make sense to do otherwise.

            3) “How can you NOT be skeptical of a tradition…”
            Look. given that I actually believe Christ is present in Person in the Eucharist, that He is the Second Person of the Trinity and the Founder of this Church and the Highest doctrinal Authority over it, assuming that if He wanted women to be ordained, He would have dealt with it, doesn’t seem like a big leap of faith by comparison. 🙂

            Having made that theological disclaimer, here’s the more secular reason.
            AFAIK, one of the first popes was, according to available sources, a freed slave (Calixtus I). If we assume, for the sake of argument, that this tradition is true, then it would mean Christianity had the power to break some BIG social barriers at that time. On the basis of what I know about ancient Rome, I’d assume female priestesses in general were much less controversial than the idea that a freed slave from nowhere gets to have authority over an aristocrat. Of course I might be wrong in my estimation (sources and references would be greatly appreciated).

            I see two ways to go with this argument, in secular terms, if my assumption stands. You can argue the sources of the Tradition were falsified (i.e. there had been women priests, we just later deleted the mentions). That conflicts with my belief in the position of Christ in the Church, so, effectively, we are going back to having an argument about why I believe in general (unless you have some sort of proof).

            The other way you can go is make the argument that while the sources are true, it really WAS offensive beyond belief to ordain women, even though it was not, to such an extent, offensive to ordain e.g. freed slaves. Which amounts to saying there was a Church-wide conspiracy by men, pretty much based on a rather essentialist understanding that in the end men will side with men because they are men (since they were willing to turn almost everything upside down, besides the gender issue).

            This, again, conflicts with some of my essential beliefs about Christ. But, also, with what I think about human nature in general. And, given the scope of the implied conspiracy, makes me just want to say “Really? Like seriously?”

            Now, I might be delusional, naive or just plain stupid, in some people’s eyes (and I won’t object to being called any of these). Personally, I tend to think of that response as a legacy of the fact that I have been greatly supported by various men in my life (only one of which ever called himself feminist) and, hence, see no reason to view all men by default as class enemies (in fact that would seem offensive, since it would imply all of the wonderful men I have ever met were either frauds or freaks, just because they were, you know, men, and therefore, by definition, bad people).

            Which brings me to the one of the two issues I think of as the legitimate in this “women’s ordination” thing – the level of women’s trust in men, as a class of people:
            Women have been and continue to be hurt by men. When they are being continually hurt by them, it by definition inspires distrust towards the whole “class” of men. This means that every Catholic man who vocally supports male-exclusive ordination has a moral duty to not be a jerk to women. Because when he IS being a jerk to women, he is effectively making the women’s full participation in the Church more difficult – if they learn they cannot trust him, it will be significantly more difficult to trust another man in the confessional. Hence (IMO) some women’s request for female Holy Orders. Which is, doctrinally, impossible to fulfil, but – in those instances – I think should be recognized as a pretty normal, human, way to signal (often justifiable) mistrust.
            (Obviously Catholic men and Catholic people in general, including women, have a duty to not act like jerks towards anyone, but I really wanted to stress that aspect here).

        • Irenist

          Thank you, Iota, for providing an object lesson in how important Catholic women are to the Church, with a reply to Steve that was far more irenic and level-headed than mine!

          • Iota

            > far more irenic

            I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. 🙂

          • I agree, your explanations and reasoning were well thought out!

    • Doragoon

      Sorry to be nitpicky, but I’ve recently been corrected on this so I feel like I should take the opportunity to help others. It’s, “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion”.

      “This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not “special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist”, by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened.” –Redemptionis Sacramentum

      Also, EMHCs don’t have any special status. They are just people the priest happens to hand the chalice or ciborium to. They are not a “ministry” in that sense and don’t exist outside of the mass.

      • Ted Seeber

        Ah, darn, and I thought my Canon Law Priest who was implementing Redemptionis Sacramentum was actually up on this- I even asked him last Saturday if we should be “EMEs” instead of EMs- and that should have been EMHCs.

        Makes us sound like a bunch of paramedics.

        BTW, can’t EMHC’s bring communion to the homebound? And therefore, actually have a role outside of Mass to play?

        • Doragoon

          Simple reason: “It is not lawful for anyone to keep the blessed Eucharist in personal custody or to carry it around, unless there is an urgent pastoral need and the prescriptions of the diocesan Bishop are observed.” –Code of Canon Law Can. 935

          Relevant parts of Redemptionis Sacramentum seem to be paragraphs 132, 133, and 155.

          also, “The duty and right to bring the blessed Eucharist to the sick as Viaticum belongs to the parish priest, to assistant priests, to chaplains and, in respect of all who are in the house, to the community Superior in clerical religious institutes or societies of apostolic life.” –Code of Canon Law Can. 911 §1

          The point of an EMHC is that the priests and deacons aren’t able to get to those people. It’s hard to imagine a time when the best person for such a task would be a layman. Also, there’s addend complications around the Pyx which must be blessed and is property of the church. And only ordinaries are allowed to put anything in the pyx (or a ciborium), so the priest would have to hand them the filled pyx, which if he’s there to do that, why can’t he just get in a car and do it himself, even if it’s a few hours later. If they are in danger of immediate death so it’s time sensitive, then that’s even more a reason for the priest.

        • Doragoon

          I should have also mentioned, An Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion can take the Eucharist to a sick person assigned to them by a priest, but must go immediately from the Church to the sick person without delay or detour. Also, they can’t get it out of the tabernacle themselves so it’s easier just to have the priest take it himself.

        • deiseach

          Yes they can, but it is important to note that they are lay men and women and are not in orders (even the obsolete minor order of acolyte). An Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is just that – extraordinary (that is, it is not recommended to be an everyday or usual thing, unless you have a shortage of priests to distribute communion or visit the sick, or such large numbers receiving that you need assistance from the laity).

          The reason that this is being ‘cracked down’ upon is that too many have made it an ersatz ministry and have taken over functions on the altar reserved for the priest alone, so that the rubrics are routinely violated – and since nobody is quite sure who should be doing what, even priests are prone to not making a fuss and letting the ministry team or liturgy team do their own thing.

          (My mother was an Extraordinary Minister and was very reluctant to do it, and was very relieved when her term was up!)

  • deiseach

    “When both candidates are committed to not answering the question asked, my temper gets short, and I need the snarky tweets of Tristyn to be able to go on without hitting something.”

    Tsk, tsk, Leah! Do you not know that shows of temper are evidence of thin-skinned passive-aggressive insanity and frantic lunacy? Okay, not to derail this thread into yet more “That’s not what I said/Oh yes it is” argumentation, I just want to say that I do have a Livejournal of my very own, though I don’t post much on it, and in view of the stimulating exchange I have had with Crude, I am putting up a post where anyone and everyone can go and comment and tell me to go boil my head for a turnip, if that so strikes their fancy: come and insult me at Morning Always Comes Too Soon!

    Now, to leave a comment resembling something in the vicinity of what your post is about: I have noticed something odd in my most recent place of work. The majority of the staff? Female, even to being something like 80-90% in certain centres. The bosses? Male. So strikingly so, that the head office was completely female, up to the higher grades, until the position of CEO which is filled by – a man. To the extent that, of five similar organisations in our region, four of the CEOs were men and one was a woman (recently, that has gone up to a whopping two women).

    I don’t know why this is. It’s not that there isn’t promotion from within, it’s not that there isn’t an equality policy in place, it’s not that women are not gaining the qualifications and experience to fill the higher level posts from where promotion takes place. But it is very evident that the bosses are men over predominantly female workforces.

    I don’t have any greater point to make or any reasons or accusations. I am just pointing this out in the context of organisations and gender balance.

    • I read a few articles about this recently, to the effect that in most US workplaces today, there are more women employed than men. Over all, in the US, women are less likely to be unemployed or underemployed than men. At the same time, almost all of the positions at the top of workplaces–CEOs, directors, boards, etc.–are filled by men. Companies are increasingly favouring women for middle management positions, not because of affirmative action but because in North American culture women have been taught to compromise, listen to peers and subordinates, and so forth, making them better at low-level management. But since the positions of real power are still largely held by men, and those men are quite capable of being either explicitly sexist or unconsciously sexist, they still mainly promote men up to join their elite.
      The most popular of those articles is here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/the-end-of-men/308135/. I think it’s too optimistic and I’d like to see more data, but it is interesting.

    • I like that story Deiseach.
      I have seen something similar in my current workplace. One team has an equal split male and female. But what is interesting is that the women are alpha. They are strong, opinonated and tough. The men on the other hand are, without exception, beta. They accept their lot in life, don’t rock the boat and get on. I tend to think it’s by design, the manager, a man, has made most of the hiring decisions. But also I do think the women have less to lose, they have no family or grown families and so have less risk to men who tend to have young families and only one income.
      More generally the firm is probably slightly more male than female.

      • deiseach

        Oh, my workplace has women who have been there upward of thirty years and have advanced (very slowly) up the civil service grades, and they like to tell us young’uns tales of the Bad Old Days.

        Like the former CEO who didn’t brook any contributions from the staff (along the lines of “If I want your opinion, I’ll tell you what it is”) and liked to routinely remind his female subordinates that “A secretary is only an instrument, like a pen” and “You have no right to think for yourself in this office”.

  • Alex Godofsky

    The flaw in this analysis is that the imagery of “binders full of women” should be too funny to permit rational thought.

  • Mark Ferris

    Funny how all the comments “over there’ were identical talking points

  • Irenist

    I agree, Leah, that Romney’s own efforts to hire women for his own cabinet are admirable, just as his personal charity is admirable. One of the reasons that I favor typically liberal positions on economic intervention, though, rather than Romney’s, is that “I will hire lots of women in my cabinet as President” (the implied promise) isn’t much of an employment plan for the rest of the nation’s women, just as “I give LOTS of money to LDS charities, although admirable, isn’t much of a plan to address national poverty issues. Obama (who I disagree with vociferously on other issues, pro-life Catholic that I am) offered women seeking career parity the Lily Ledbetter Fair Play Act. Romney responded with an anecdote. Not good enough.

    • leahlibresco

      The HuffPo article concludes by saying that Romney’s anecdote is a great model for individuals to emulate, but falls short of the kind of systemic solution I’d expect from a politician. I can’t block quote the whole thing, folks!

      • Maybe the problem is assuming that the solution should be a systemic/government solution principally anyway. It seems to me that there are various problems in society that need addressing, but ‘need addressing’ adds up to ‘needs a government program’ in the vast majority of cases – and that seems like a grave mistake.

      • Irenist

        “I can’t block quote the whole thing, folks!”
        Can you put it in a binder?

  • suburbanbanshee

    It doesn’t matter what a Republican _does_. He or she is a Republican, and therefore evil. Bush could have his chief of staff and his secretary of state and many of his key staffers be women, constantly listen and use their advice, and be the model sensitive boss — and that didn’t matter. Obama can constantly ignore and denigrate all his few women staffers except Jarrett from Chicago (including Hillary, whom he’s always disrespecting), and not even let them play golf with him — and yet he’s a saint for hiring women, a model boss.

    I’ve worked in places with plenty of male bosses and with plenty of female bosses, right up to the top positions. Overall, I’d say that there’s only two kinds of bosses — jerks and good ones. People who are incompetent usually choose to be jerks, also.

    • Steve

      I was just thinking about the Supreme Court Justices and high ranking members of his administration that Obama appointed, and the Democrat stance on womens health issues, and their efforts to promote equality in the workplaces, and their general attitude towards female empowerment… and I’m can’t help but asking, what the devil are you talking about?

      • Ted Seeber

        The Democrat stance on woman’s health issues boils down to “poison yourself so that you’ll be more available to your rapist for sex”.

        • Steve

          Teddy… a common error. You’re confusing Democratic rhetoric policy regarding womens health with an episode recap of Sons of Anarchy. See, providing funding for things like mammograms isn’t because they’re poisonous so much as they are life saving early cancer detection medical procedures. And that guy fondling that womans breast is actually lab technician, he’s not actually raping her.

          • Ted Seeber

            Actually, it seems to me that exposing an organ that is often a site of cancerous tumors to radiation in an effort to find such tumors might create such tumors.

            And of course, you’re getting the Democrats mixed up with the Komen Foundation.

            But hey, who cares right? As long as Planned Parenthood gets to handle the money (they don’t even provide the mammograms).

          • ACN

            Is it your claim that mammograms cause breast cancer?

          • Steve

            As Democratic policy typically champion funding for such things, I don’t see where the mix up is. I don’t recall mentioning Planned Parenthood.

          • Ted Seeber

            Mammograms and messing with the hormones do cause breast cancer. You can’t get around the laws of physics and chemistry merely by claiming to be progressive.

          • Steve

            Ohh I see the problem… you think I’m suggesting you should have a mammogram every morning with your cup of coffee, rather than at periodic physician advised screenings every few years for older women. Mammograms save lives, but like most everything else, don’t come without risk if you aren’t responsible. If you eat nothing but steak, you’re increasing your chances for heart disease, though if you have steak every once in a blue moon, then it might even be good for you. In fact you can insert and ‘good in moderation, potentially harmful if abused’ activity in there and the point would remain the same.

            Which laws of physics and/or chemistry might I (or perhaps someone else) be trying to get around?? Or is it that you feel the mere mention of ‘science’ in your posting somehow gives credibility to your drivel??

          • ACN

            Ted, you’re at best misinformed or misunderstanding the data on both mammograms and oral contraceptives. At worst you’re a liar.

            Oral contraceptives have been linked to a slight uptick in breast cancer risk, but they come with a notable reductions in risk for ovarian and endometrial cancer. But don’t take my word for it, this is the NIH-NCI:


            Mammograms, when used properly as a screening and diagnostic device, lower the number of deaths by breast cancer for women. Especially older women. And while radiation exposure is a risk with every type of x-ray, the dosage from mammograms is quite low, and no one is recommending, as Steve mentioned, daily mammograms with the morning coffee.

            Heck, I’d be far more worried about false positive that lead to overtreatment and/or psychological distress, and false negatives that result in delayed treatment. You should be embarrassed to publicly spread this ridiculous “poisoning themselves” rhetoric.

        • Karen

          Whereas the Carholic chur h and Republic party’s stance on women’s health is “Die, bitch.” Seriously, the R’s block and continue to block every piece of legislation designed to improve women’s lives from the ERA to the Pregnant Employees Protection Act and all you can think of is that women shouldn’t have birth control?!

          • Ted Seeber

            No, I simply think that poisoning women isn’t health. And to claim it is, is a lie.

          • Steve

            Correct… poisoning isn’t healthy. Correct again… claiming something that is false to be true is infact a lie.

            Now that we got that out of the way, I can’t help but point out that the only one talking about poisoning women is you Ted. You should probably see a doctor about that before you hurt someone.

          • Irenist

            “Whereas the Carholic chur h and Republic party’s stance on women’s health is “Die, bitch.””
            Karen, I think this may be a somewhat uncharitable interpretation of your opponents’ position.

          • Please do not conflate the Catholic Church with the Republican Party. The Republicans, for all I know, really do want to keep women down. I wouldn’t know. The Church actually has a logical explanation behind all it does. We oppose abortion because we believe that human fetuses are human persons and that human persons possess intrinsic dignity and rights. It has nothing to do with keeping women down.

            Sorry. Pet peeve of mine, ever since someone said, “The Republicans are okay with abortion in the case of rape and incest, therefore Catholics are just trying to punish women for sleeping around.” (You know, because an exception in case of rape proves that you don’t really believe the baby is deserving of equal rights.) Catholics =/= Republicans. I am a Catholic non-Republican. Even Catholics who register as Republicans aren’t perfectly represented by the party … hence the Pregnant Employees Protection Act might well be favored by Catholics, but they vote Republican because of the abortion bit, not because of anything else.

      • ACN

        Before you get drawn in by Ted’s troll Steve, just be aware that he is using highly peculiar definitions of “poison”, and “rape”, that he is not willing to change or re-evaluate. He just wants a reaction.

        • Peter Brown

          You & Steve, on the other hand, are completely open to change and reevaluation, and your contributions to this thread have nothing to do with getting a reaction. 🙂

          • Steve

            You’re incorrect to assume I’m simply looking for a reaction. For this particular thread (not started by me) it was suggested that “Obama can constantly ignore and denigrate all his few women staffers…” which is a claim that seems inconsistent with the public face of the president. Perhaps he does & perhaps he doesn’t, but so far as I’m aware there isn’t a shread of evidence to back up such accusations. In addition, it was stated that “(regardless of what republicans do) He or she is a Republican, and therefore evil.” Perhaps there are blind partisans who might feel this way. I do not, and this broad generalization deserved to be addressed.

            As for the above threads, the notion that women are somehow treated with any sort of equality or acknowledged as anything other than a baby-maker in the eyes of the church is simply counter-reality nonsense. On a blog written by a Catholic who (so far as I can tell) is sympathetic to promoting at least some forms of gender equality, and has had multiple posts this very week in 1 way or another about the issue, it can not go unsaid that the church does not, in any non-BS way, value and acknowledge women in a manner consistent with gender equality.

            It might be beneficial to take the time to re-examine your worldviews if you think legitimate criticisms are only being leveled in order to start a flame war.

          • Irenist

            “As for the above threads, the notion that women are somehow treated with any sort of equality or acknowledged as anything other than a baby-maker in the eyes of the church is simply counter-reality nonsense.”
            If you define “equality” as “female priests, bishops, and Popes,” then yes, you will continue to be disappointed. However, if you try to imagine–consider it LARPing, if you will–that you ACTUALLY BELIEVED that God had revealed that these posts were to be held by men (despite, let’s face it, what a hash we men have made of them) then instead of trying to get the Church to put women in those posts (which would seem as silly to you as petitioning physicists to repeal the law of gravity because sometimes nice people trip over things and that’s mean!), you would instead do your best to ensure that women were as valued as possible in those roles that God had not specifically reserved for men. And that, Steve, is what you may observe contemporary Catholics of good will–like Leah–attempting to do.
            As for the Catholic Church thinking of women as nothing more than “baby-makers,” besides being almost obscenely offensive, this is trivially demonstrable as false. Yes, Steve, the Catholic Church believes that abortion is murder, and so disapproves of it. However, female Catholic saints, nuns, theologians, administrators, professors, lawyers, scientists, athletes, mathematicians, sales clerks, altar servers, daughters, friends, sisters, and so on are *not* seen, by any sane Catholic, as mere “baby makers.” Despite what the “Handmaid’s Tale” may have taught you, a belief that abortion (which, in its sex-selective form in China and India is resulting in something like a female genocide, btw) is murder does *not* mean that women are seen as mere “baby-makers.” It means that murder is wrong. Even the most libertarian and libertine of states tend to outlaw murder. Now, it is true that some G.O.P. politicians (Todd Akin springs to mind) do seem to be grotesquely misogynistic, at best. As I am a pro-life Catholic who loathes the G.O.P. with almost every fiber of my social justice-loving being, you will get no defense of them for me. But anti-G.O.P. talking points cannot just be transferred wholesale to a discussion of Catholicism.
            Speaking of rich, what exactly do you mean by “counter-reality”? Do you mean “false,” but with an intention to call to mind some G.O.P. hack’s remark about the “reality-based community”? Or is it just empty rhetoric?

          • Steve

            First, while I feel the pro-life position is difficult to defend from a medical standpoint and short-sighted though well intended, at no point here have I taken issue with the pro-life stance of the church or it’s congregation. Bringing up abortion is irrelevant to the topic of the churches not recognizing women as worthy of positions of power.

            Second, re-read Leah’s blog post about and consider what your reaction might be had Romney said “Yes we honor women and view them as equals… etc. I will not be appointing any of them in my cabinet or appoint any of them to positions of authority because our country was founded by men which revealed that these positions were for men”. At what point do you scratch your head and question whether or not he’s just paying you lip service?? At some point you have to call a spade a spade. Even if you accept being denied the ability to be in a position of authority, that doesn’t change the fact that this patriarchal system BY DEFINITION has placed you as lower than a man. That you and others might be fine with it is irrelevant.

            Not convinced, replace ‘man’ with ‘tall-people’ and ‘women’ with ‘short-people’. If every person in a position of authority during the two thousand year life of the catholic church was, say over 6 and a half feet tall, and not only was this not happenstance, but the result of actual law, wouldn’t it then be fair to say that ‘tall-people’ were regarded higher than ‘short-people’??

            And finally, by ‘counter-reality’ I was referring to the false, unreal, inaccurate, un-true, mistaken, imaginary (seriously, take your pick) notion that women are treated equally to men by the church, certainly not in any sort of way that is consistent with the original blog post. I’m afraid I don’t know which comment or which GOP member you refer to, though I’m not quite sure what, if any, effect it would have on my point even if I knew what you were talking about.

          • Irenist

            That, Steve, was a helpful reply. Now I think I have a better sense of where you’re coming from.
            Look, the entire world prior to 1975 or so had too few women in positions of power. The Church mirrored the culture of those times in its internal administrative appointments. In the last few decades, as the broader culture has seen women fight their way toward a much-deserved equality, the Church, a huge and slow-moving institution, has officially accepted that the failure to appoint women to positions of power has been a failure to follow through the Good News that in Christ Jesus there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,” and has begun, in its lumbering Ent-like way, to take steps to rectify this sinful failure.
            However, what the Church has not done, and will not do, because it cannot so do without ceasing to be itself, is rewrite Scripture and Tradition to say that women may be ordained priests. Believe me, I wish they could: it’s not a doctrine I either like or would have thought of on my own. But they can’t change it, no matter how convenient it would be: the Biblical and Patristic evidence is incontrovertible: this is the orthodox catholic faith that has been “taught always, everywhere, and by everyone,” as the Vincentian test of orthodoxy would have it. IMHO, there is a legitimate scholarly theological dispute as to whether women may be ordained to the permanent diaconate. I don’t know the correct answer to that, but if it were up to me (which it is not; it’s up to God), I’d be all for women deacons personally.
            That said, not being able to be ordained to the priesthood does not make a woman (or a married man) less than a priest, just different. This may, understably, sound like “separate but equal” to an unsympathetic outside observer. But, given the unvarying doctrine of the Church, I’m afraid it’s the best our mean old bishops can do.

          • Doctor Octavo

            “However, what the Church has not done, and will not do, because it cannot so do without ceasing to be itself, is rewrite Scripture and Tradition to say that women may be ordained priests.”

            Don’t sell yourselves too short. It’s amazing what people can do when they let their ethics transcend their traditions. Much of the bible supports slavery, and the catholic church has had a sordid history with the peculiar institution. (See Dum Diversas, for instance). Patriarchy can definitely join the dustbin of history.

          • Irenist

            Dum Diversas, while sordid (as many of the Popes’ acts were) is neither infallible nor especially representative.

          • Doctor Octavo

            I’m aware of that. I’m not attacking the church for it’s non-representative and fallible declarations. If I were, I could quibble that Paul’s commands to slaves are considered infallible.
            The point is that there’s nothing special about the Church’s patriarchy preventing the church from shedding it. You have justifications for it now, but those justifications may not matter to future generations of Catholics. Sometimes, ethics trumps tradition.

            TL;DR I hope that even in the Catholic church, the moral arc bends toward justice.

  • jose

    His “improve the economy and the pay gap will go away because people will want to hire women” approach doesn’t affect the pay gap. The pay gap existed back when the economy was good. If the economy gets well again, that won’t prevent employers from continuing paying women less. You need legislation for that because many companies won’t just agree to break the glass ceiling out of the fondness of their hearts.

    His personal anecdotes, while nice, don’t interest me because they aren’t policies; they are like that other story Ryan told in the vice president debate about Romney visiting a family and paying for the college of 2 kids. That individual act does nothing to facilitate college access for American kids. In fact, this sounds to me more like a nobleman riding his horse through the hamlet tossing some coin to the peasants.

    As a contrast, Obama didn’t offer Ledbetter a job; he signed a policy to grant equal pay for equal work in general, to help improve the whole country, not just the few individuals he personally chooses to help. He didn’t pay for some random voter’s college education; he did the student loans reform, and so on. Policies.

  • Karen

    Patheos blogger Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism has a good take on this. I’m a working mother, and I thought Romney’s answer that he would create so many jobs that employers would be desparate to hire women was astoundingly offensive, because, translated from the Privileged Dude, what he said was that the only reason companies hire women was because they can’t find any men. As Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns, and Money said, to Romney, a college- graduate woman is the same employment risk as a high school dropout with a felony conviction.

  • Darwin

    One of the reasons why this issue goes so quickly to emotion (and thus the need to switch to mockery) is that there aren’t necessarily a lot of good avenues for solving the problem left other than the behaviors that Romney described. Even the much touted Lilly Ledbetter act didn’t actually do anything new to make pay discrimination illegal. It’s been illegal for a long time. It just made that statute of limitations longer. Even so, employment discrimination have a very high rate of failure because it’s so hard to prove exactly why employment decisions get made, so even if it’s easy to point to some general statistics, most cases lose.

    It’s all very well to talk about e need for policies rather than good behavior, but the remaining policies that have been suggested beyond making discrimination illegal (which we’ve already done) are generally really bad ideas like legislating standard wage rates by industry and job description.

  • TerryC

    Several years ago I read a very interesting take on the question of why (some) women earn less than men. It was a small population study of college graduates in their first job. What the study found was that what often happened was that equivalently qualified male and female students would interview for the same job. Both would be selected and the company would make an offer of starting pay. This initial pay offer would be the same for both. The male would counter offer and more times than not his counter offer would be accepted. The female would accept the initial offer and be working the same job as her counterpart for less money. This then serves as the basis for all further pay at that company, and perhaps even other places which often hire based on previous pay
    Note I’m not trying to blame the victim here. This was a pretty anecdotal study when I read it and I appreciate that the plural of anecdote is not data.
    However personally I can tell you when I started my present career at a national lab I was having a really hard time with one of the women who was training me. I eventually found out she was angry because I was starting off at a higher pay than she was making, though she was equivalently qualified and had worked there for several years. It took the winds out of her sails when I frankly told her that for what they were paying her I would have never accepted the job.
    The fact is that in professional jobs especially employers often have a wide latitude in what they can pay. They will alway pay as low as they can to get the talent they need. Salary negotiation is an important skill. Almost no employer will withdraw their employment offer because you ask for more money. Only real trolls will try to take advantage of the fact that you took a job at their original pay scale after they reject your counter offer. Most will try to sweeten the deal a little, if they want you.

    • Ted Seeber

      Damn, that’s what I’ve been doing wrong my entire stinkin’ career- I NEVER make the counteroffer.

    • deiseach

      America is obviously a different case. All the employment and job seeking advice I have got (from school career guidance onwards) was “At interview, when they ask do you have any questions, DON’T ask about pay or holidays or anything like that. And if they ask you what salary you expect, give a general answer that you’re sure they pay the industry standard.”

      Now, this was in the days when employment was very scarce and any kind of a job was gold (the 80s, before the seven fat years of the Celtic Tiger came along) but yes – the one thing we would never have thought of doing was going into a job offer, demanding a certain salary, and turning down a job if we didn’t get it. I don’t know if that is a female thing, or just a non-American thing.

  • Eli

    “I have a piece up praising the actual content of Romney’s answer…His anecdote may not have been true”


  • “Are we just telling them that they suck? That they suck too much to be able to act? Nope! We’re saying you need more data, and you may need help noticing what kind of data you need.”

    I so wish the feminist perspective were more often framed this way.

  • Erin

    This semi-obsessive focus on “why aren’t women treated exactly like men” is depressing. Nary a humble or receptive comment to be read. I don’t discount actual inequality, but to me the answer lies closer to elevating the traditionally feminine to the same level of honor and respect we’re paying to the traditionally masculine. The Church generally accomplishes this – Mary being the foremost example – which is why women in the pews are not rising up in feigned righteousness, demanding to be in so-called positions of power. We’re already valued as women; and generally many of us, like the pope, are also servants of the servants of God within our families.

    • jose

      You mean women should be paid less for equal work.

      • deiseach

        Since salvation is equally available for all, and does not depend on wearing a clerical collar, I do not understand your remark.

    • Karen

      The traditional feminie role was never available to women below the upper middle class, dares only to the Victorian era, and was created solely to keep women from getting a good education. Furthermore, before the 19 th century, women were stuck in domestic roles becuase we were assumed to be too stupid and immoral to do anything else.

  • Kathy from Kansas

    It makes me sad to see so many people who have not yet received the spiritual vision to truly understand the “great mystery” of which St. Paul speaks in Ephesians 5 regarding men and women. EVERYBODY NEEDS TO READ the book “THEOLOGY OF THE BODY FOR BEGINNERS” by Christopher West. Really, folks. It will change your life.

  • Solarcat

    I haven’t read all the posts before this, so I hope I’m not repeating anything.

    I’ll start with a plus. Rommey did hire many women to work in his administration, at least at the start. As his interest in governing MA dwindled and his interest went elsewhere, for some reason, fewer woman were there.

    One of the things that’s interesting, in his story, is with all his years of business experience, why didn’t he have several woman’s names to suggest at the tip of his tongue?

    Alas, what Rommey didn’t answer was the question about equal pay for women doing the same job as men and whether he supported the Lilly Ledbetter bill that Obama signed ( http://www.lillyledbetter.com/ ) early in his 1st term giving woman the right to sue their employers when they find out they’ve been paid significantly less for doing the same job as their peers, oft times, like her, for years and years (she originally lost her case due to the court saying too much time had passed since the 1st time she had been underpaid).

  • Will

    Yep. Just look at the powerlessness of St. Catherine, scolding popes and cardinals.

  • A quick search on “how many women did romney hire as govenor’ leads to articles at the NY Times, CNN, and Jezebel that point out that the ‘binders’ were prepared before Romney’s requests and did not result in women being hired. getting a list, and doing something about it, are two very different things.

  • Some discussion above on women’s ordination. Not a good idea for practical reasons. Just look at wherever it has been tried, such as the Episcopal Church. In leadership roles, women will not hold to orthodox teaching. It’s difficult to reach that conclusion. My suspicion is women are so much more relational in their thinking that orthodox beliefs just aren’t as important to them when they are placed in a leadership role. It took the Episcopal Church barely one generation to make its beliefs indistinguishable from the spirit of the world.

    In the workplace, it’s been a mixed blessing. Women are indeed capable of doing anything a man can. But I’ve seen a pattern for too long to ignore it: The most ambitious women seem to do a sprint in their 20s and they’re very hard to compete with, as many men don’t come into their own until later. Many businesses take advantage of this “female sprint.” In their 30s, especially by their late 30s, I’ve seen a lot of these women harden and/or just lose interest. Not all, but too many to ignore. They want the rules changed for them. They’ve been told they can have it all — and a lot try. But they can’t. They don’t seem to take the same pleasure in a career as a man does.

    There are other crucial issues, too crucial to ignore — there are a lot of society-wide side effects of female careerism in traditionally male professions, especially since it occurred alongside the sexual revolution. The result has been an utter disaster that is probably already fatal to our culture, and hasn’t made either men or women happy.

    • Karen

      Sooo, denying women jobs and education will make us happy? Will we be issued husbands automatically at puberty? Will it be random, or do they get to bid on the ones they like, probably from a binder full of us.

      • LOL at your last line, Karen. No, they don’t get to bid. You’ll get to choose, but don’t be surprised if you and your friends all want the same guys.

        I’m pretty sure that I said trying to have it all doesn’t make women happy. Ultimately, you have to choose among options, just as we all are.

        The idea of denying anyone secular work or secular/religious education isn’t on my radar screen, and I don’t know how what I wrote could be interpreted that way. Catholic priesthood is different. You shall know it from its fruits — and the fruits in the Episcopal Church have been damaging beyond belief.

  • Gerry

    There’s nothing like a bigoted troll – it not only combines the worst qualities it both, but magnifies them!

  • George

    This is probably the most sidetracked comment discussion ever…

    Anyway I agree with Leah. I do NOT like Mitt Romney either and do not expect a good presidency to result from his administration. Yet, the democrats have to start making some adult arguments in the next couple of weeks. Enough with Big Bird and Binder Memes. In the end, memes only give the chuckles to your supporters. They don’t convince critical thinking individuals who happen to disagree with you for valid reasons. My guess is that there are too many people out there who don’t believe it’s possible for others to have good reasons for disagreeing with them on politics.

    (Full disclosure: Don’t like Obama either. I’m registered independent.)

    • Andres Riofrio

      Re: “adult arguments”. You have my vote.