Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gender and sexuality - PB reflects

Katharine Jefferts Schori reflects on how sexuality and gender are seen through different lenses around the world:
The most intriguing conversation I had in Alexandria was with a primate who asked how same-sex couples partition "roles." He literally asked if one was identified as the wife and one as the husband, and then wanted to know which one promised to obey the other in the marriage ceremony. Several of us explained that marriage in the West is most often understood as a partnership of equals, and has been for some time.

Those of you with a few more years on you may remember that the marriage service in the 1928 (and earlier versions) of the Book of Common Prayer did indeed have language about the wife obeying her husband. It's pertinent here to note that the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer is still the norm in many provinces of the Anglican Communion, and it uses the same kind of language about obeying in the marriage service.

As I traveled from the airport to the hotel where we met, I noticed that almost every woman on the street past childhood was veiled, with at least her hair covered with a scarf, and in a not-small number of cases, covered head to toe in a long, flowing garment. I even observed a couple of women whose coverings were so thorough that I couldn't even see a slit for their eyes -- the fabric must have been thin enough for them to see through, but not for others to see in. The hotel had only a handful of female employees, mostly professional women who worked behind the desk. Only a couple of them wore no scarf.

The striking thing was that the meeting room where the primates' deliberations took place, the hotel's largest and principal conference room, was bedecked with several large paintings of half-naked women. It was a space that, in normal circumstances, apparently was used only by men. I found it striking that public expectations of women are modest dress and covering, yet there is evidently a rather different attitude toward men's entertainment.


Read more here.

18 comments:

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I haven't heard the like over here since the early 1980ies...

Ann said...

Göran - and??

Jane Ellen+ said...

It seems a bit nervy to correct the presiding bishop; but the last time marriage vows contained anything about obedience was in the 1892 BCP; vows in the 1928 do not use that language.

This is one "modern innovation" that cannot be blamed on the "new" prayer book. That understanding was corrected long before. :-)

Ann said...

oops!

James said...

That primate's question goes to the heart of the whole subject -- who stops being male and becomes female in gay relationships.

There is still the assumption that someone MUST be "submissive" in relationships based on what has traditionally been the biological female's sole role in marriage.

IT said...

Straight people have a very hard time thinking that gay relationships don't necessarily work on a gender binary. "which one of you is the guy?" Yeah, it takes a while before they figure out that the answer is both and neither!

Ann said...

Not everyone IT

IT said...

I know. Present company excluded, as always ;-)

I was thinking of THOSE straight people!

Ann said...

oh - those people -- right!!

JCF said...

I have my grandmother's BCP (Custodian's date, 1907), and the "Obey him and serve him" in the wife's vow is still there.

Can you imagine the GC before the adoption of the '28 BCP? I'm sure that some among the (male-only, IIRC) Deputies---to say nothing of male-only HofB!---must have cried that the removal of "Obey and Serve" would be the End of Civilization as we know it! :-0

Y'know, I have this feeling: when we look back in 50 years (I HOPE I'm still here!), and SSM is no-biggie in Anglicanism, we'll see that perhaps the MOST important change-bringer, was ++KJS (yes, despite B033). Just by being a Primate-who-is-a-STRONG-woman, she is BLOWING purple-shirted minds! :-D

James said...

Actually, JCF, the big thing at that convention was prayers for the dead which were introduced by the 1928 book. That book was the most radical change from all that came before it in the history of the church since 1661.

I agree with the rest of your post, whole heartedly.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Ann,

I do think there are still people who t h i n k so, but that they understand that they would make fools of themselves if they said it aloud ;=)

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Le progrès social doît bien servir à quelquechôse...

Anonymous said...

You'd be surprised....

IT

dr.primose said...

OT. Today, the California Supreme Court denied rehearing in the Episcopal Church Cases (concerning the three parishes in the Diocese of Los Angeles that tried to leave TEC and take their property with them) and sent the case back to the trial court. You can see what the court did here (scroll down to the bottom of the screen).

The case isn't over yet. But the writing is on the wall in BIG CAPITIAL LETTERS.

Ann said...

Thanks Dr. Primrose.

JCF said...

Maybe we can hope that Episcopal worship is back in these parish sanctuaries by Easter? ;-)

Fred Preuss said...

And this woman is educated and in her late fifties and this is news?
Wow.....