Electing women to the episcopacy: a double bind?

There are three women and no men on the slate of nominees for suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Maryland. The Rev. Sara Irwin has some thoughts about that:

I wouldn’t find it remarkable if a slate were all men, necessarily, so for parity’s sake maybe we ought not find it remarkable that a slate is all women. The candidates are strong. We need more women bishops, particularly since it’s a life appointment and, for church-wide governance purposes, a bishop is a bishop. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that for Maryland, with a male bishop safely at the helm, it feels creative and cool to have a woman in second place when the stakes don’t seem as high.

I want female bishops. I want us all to “lean in” and take our place at the table and not be ashamed to ask where the women’s bathroom is. The thing that the Maryland election reveals, though, is the impossible place that this patriarchal double bind has put us in. Yes, we want women to be in these jobs. But for every candidate in one election to be a woman, it just feels like gender is being elevated to the level of qualifying credential. And that’s where we can’t win. That’s where having all women feels almost as bad as having no women. And that’s where it’s so clear what a broken system this is: when something that you 100% want to be the outcome (more women in senior positions) is sure to happen, but you just don’t want it to happen this way.

As someone who believes we need more women in the House of Bishops, I’d be interested in hearing how you all think that might best be accomplished.

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