Dear Gloria Steinem with a PS to Madeleine Albright

Sarah Condon, an Episcopal priest married to an Episcopal priest, writes a letter in Mockingbird to Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright, asking them to “stop trash-talking young women,” and describes how she was mentored in her faith and as a feminist by a woman priest of their generation.

I cannot begin to express the level of frustration I felt with Ms. Steinem when she suggested to Bill Maher that young women were backing Bernie Sanders because they wanted to spend time with young men. Gross. Apparently, even feminists can be patronizing to young women now.

As long as we’re on the subject, why don’t we let Madeleine Albright tell us where the cow ate the cabbage…Super. So, there’s Hitler, King Herod, and “bad feminists.” I’ll grab a latte at Starbucks and type H-E-L-L into Googlemaps. Because it looks like I’m bound for the fires of damnation….

…Ms. Steinem and Ms. Albright’s remarks hit me particularly hard as a young clergywoman. I seldom, if ever, feel as though I am “enough” for the previous generation of women in the profession. I have been in those rooms where women a generation or two older have looked to me to answer for my generation’s shortcomings. They tell me that the church is not what they thought it should or could be, and that my generation of clergywomen have been apathetic or “worried about the wrong things.”

Part of me understands their frustration. They had a vision for what they thought feminine power should look like in the church and political arenas. And from their vantage point, my generation has fallen short.

And then she tells the story of her mentor:

For my first few years of ministry, I had a mentor named Rhoda Montgomery. She encouraged me to be a mother to my children without considering the “impact” on the church. She told me I didn’t have to go back to work weeks after I had given birth. And when I finally did go back to work, she was a cheerleader for me all the way. Last year I lost her to cancer. I’m still mad about it.

She ran a big church and never had children herself. Yet she was an incredibly gracious and empathetic mentor to someone with different life circumstances. I believe she understood the importance of supporting the choices of the next generation of clergywomen. Rhoda never judged or tried to prescribe my decisions, she only celebrated that I had them. I pray that Rhoda was not an anomaly. But when I need a clergywoman to talk to about my path, when I need a gracious counselor, I suddenly realize how short that list of women really is. And I miss Rhoda even more.

Read the rest here.

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