The pastor at my church told me to “Let the boys handle that, it’s too heavy for you” when I tried to carry something after mass.
A fellow academic at an elite UK university told me today that she felt we should all wear a cardigan when lecturing students because a male student had complained that female lecturers wearing sleeveless tops were distracting. We have male academics who wear jeans to work, and none of the students have commented on this. I find this infuriating and now wear sleeveless (smart) tops everyday to work, even if I am cold.
Often our church office administrator will receive phone calls from someone asking to speak to the pastor. When the call is forwarded to me, the pastor, the person calling sometimes says, “oh. May I speak with the Senior Pastor,” implying that as a woman I couldn’t possibly be the senior pastor. I experience this as well when meeting someone for the first time and answering the question, “what do you do for a living?” Even though I answer, “I’m a pastor,” the person will assume I mean children’s pastor and will ask me questions about the children’s ministry of the church.
I am a pastor. I do almost everything my male colleagues do – preach, counsel, teach, visitations, etc. I graduated from seminary with multiple academic awards. But I do not have the title “pastor”, even though I have equivalent (and in some cases higher) qualifications than my male colleagues. I am excluded from being able to conduct or even serve the Eucharist. I am excluded from the possibility of being ordained (a process in which the entire church affirms your vocation and calling, after which one is given the title “Reverend”.) I am excluded from the possibility of ever being in the top level of leadership and decision-making. And my lead pastor could ask me, “You mean you feel oppressed here?” Routinely when I introduce myself or what I do professionally, a look of confusion or disbelief crosses people’s faces. Often I have to repeat or explain several times what it is that I do. When I mention that I work in church, most assume I do administrative support. Because people cannot comprehend that a young female can or would be in a pastoral role. I love my God, my faith and my church. But having my legitimacy questioned on a regular basis just because of my gender really wears me down.
A few things: I caught the end of some bike race or other (Tour de Azerbaijan?) on the Eurosport channel recently, just in time to see the male winner being kissed on the cheek by 2 beautiful young women after he’d been presented with his trophy. We received our copy of this month’s Parish Bulletin with all the usual religiosity that’s part & parcel of it. There’s a list of prayers for the month, & one of the prayers is adjuring readers to “give thanks for the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary; her humility & obedience.” Yes, let’s be thankful that a woman is ‘setting a good example’ by being humble & obedient! Barf city!