I've called this piece Nevertheless She Persisted: Frustrated
It seems to me that within the RCC women can be used to do so much of the work in the Church, without which parishes all over the world would fold, and so many people’s lives would be the poorer.
In my Diocese, multiple women's writings and opinions can be ignored, but one man's letter of concern brings about some small action from the Archbishop (passing on a letter) and a personal 'phone call from the Bishop to that man! Still nothing is done about our situation – naturally - but he is listened to and spoken to, unlike we women. It is as if we are invisible. As long as our bodies keep on doing what is necessary for the RCC to survive, the voice can be ignored. So too in so many situations in society generally.
So many male clergy in this Diocese, to varying degrees and in various ways, seem to think nothing of acting to silence women. Whether it be refusing to discuss, even confidentially, a priest who has caused so much destruction because ‘I was at Seminary with him,’ or gently changing the subject and shutting down conversation with ‘oh well, he was like that in Seminary,’ through to hierarchy not only refusing to acknowledge the very existence of some women, but ordering that those under their command should act in the same way. Subtle, or not so subtle ways of achieving the same end – the silencing of women. Trying to show us we are invisible; not deserving of even a hearing let alone any consideration. We should figuratively don the veil, the full body covering, and hide away. They do not want to see us, speak to us, hear our story, our opinions, our voices. Of course, in the RCC, there are those who willingly literally wear the veil, seeming to believe it actually makes some kind of positive difference! Each to their own – if it is truly their own personal choice and not done out of a taught desire to follow ‘tradition’ for example, then it does not disempower them.
What is truly amazing and perhaps even galling and distressing, is how many women simply accept the treatment meted out to them by such clergy – and in society generally. So many just give up, resign themselves to remaining unseen, unheard and unacknowledged. Hopes and ambitions, even simple good will towards others are frustrated by the people who treat women in such a way. Women’s actions, their voices and their true calling are prevented from reaching fruition by such behaviour towards women. Who are these men exactly who believe they know the will of God better than He Himself, and would ignore and even attempt to thwart God’s will for women for their own ends? Who believe they are justified in treating women as they do?
So, to the lady who is hidden behind the cloth, I first added a representation of the crown of thorns - for the sacrifices women worldwide make both in what they do and in what they are not permitted to do – for those who have their calling frustrated by rules made by mere men. There are scratches and drips of blood from the thorns - scars that may never fade.
I went bold with the flowers on this piece (way out of my comfort zone lol!) – that symbol of the harmony that Pope Francis associates so strongly with women, as described in that article, would seem the perfect symbol within this piece of a lot of what frustrates women and hinders them in their lives and calling. Gentle, peaceful, passive, silent yet doing what is necessary to please others…
I am not saying that women can’t be gentle and quiet, peaceful people…everyone is unique after all! If they choose – and that is the vital part – if they choose, of course, they can be so. The problem occurs when others force this upon women – upon anybody, but relative to the article, upon women. When women are prevented from speaking out, from making their voice heard and their presence seen and felt, that is when they are frustrated in their lives. So the flowers surround the woman as much as the veil – both acting together to keep her where she belongs – and as she should be in the eyes of so many, to varying degrees.
I used the colour purple to represent frustration, and left the flowers red, with hints of red elsewhere on the woman also, for the anger that can come from having parts (or all) of your life frustrated and controlled to such an extent by others, usually of the opposite sex.
Perhaps another dark piece, or perhaps a positive piece – the woman looks strong to me and those eyes – all that can be seen of her – hold power! She's not silenced - yet!