Perhaps the most fascinating thing about feminism is its dependence on a victim culture. Women, it is claimed, are everywhere oppressed by the Patriarchy. And no amount of success in changing society and institutions makes that sense of oppression and injustice go away.
The Church of England is by now a largely feminised institution. Though irksome pockets of resistance remain, women priests have generally been accepted and welcomed; women bishops have been appointed with alacrity by those (largely men) who decide these things. But the anger and hurt continues. And among a radical minority, at least, there continues to be a burning sense of injustice. Among those who aim to be more feminist than Germaine Greer, there is always the campaign to normalize trans-sexuality. And increasingly the ‘mission’ is extended to homosexual equality and gay marriage. The connection, needless to say, is not pellucidly clear. But the question remains: what do women campaigners in the Church want?
The attempt to geld God – an extension of the urge to ‘police the pronouns’ – was never going to gain general approval. As the earliest radicals saw, back in the 70’s, the religion is too grounded in the language of a Son sent by a Father to accept change without general dogmatic degradation. ‘What will happen to God? they asked. And the answer was that He would become increasingly irrelevant.
So where next? Women have entered the Patriarchy (and have signally failed to change it substantially or radically). What remains to be done? Are we simply left with the smoldering embers of a discontent which can never be put out?