A bishop in high heels does women no favours

Feb 13, 2020 by

by Peter Day-Milne, The Conservative Woman:

A FEW days ago, I happened to hear the following dialogue from the new Channel 5 programme Britain’s Great Cathedrals.

Scene: Sir Tony Robinson and the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Rev’d Vivienne Faull, sit talking in York Minster.

Tony Robinson: The first woman bishop, Libby Lane, was actually consecrated right here.

Vivienne Faull: Yes, and it was a glorious moment. We were all so excited. And, you know, the thing that amazed me most is that, I’d prepared for this moment for a very long time, and then it was to see Libby with stiletto heels walking up, and I would never dare, because I’ve been bred in a generation where women didn’t wear stiletto heels in church. And also I didn’t dare on this floor because the floor . . . is not even. And I thought it was the sheer courage to do that . . .

T R: The chutzpah . . .

V F: The chutzpah, exactly: she was taking this role on, she was going to do what she was going to do, she was going to be who she is, and I thought ‘that’s what I’ve been looking for, to . . . to free women to be who they are’.

I suppose the implication here is that, if Libby Lane had notworn high heels, she would have been somehow inauthentic as a woman, and hence that a woman is free to be a woman only if she is free to wear whatever impractical, appearance-focused footwear she likes. But isn’t this logic embarrassing and degrading for women? And anyway, why is it that women bishops, who are supposed to be champions of equality, so often seem to reduce femininity to a caricature, and thus undermine that mutual respect between the sexes upon which any true fairness, any true social justice must be based?

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