The group of Dominican friars I lived with had a group of Dominican sisters who lived across the parking lot. We did a lot of work together. And one of the sisters wanted to be a priest. Very badly. She even went so far one day as to say that if the friars had Mass together in our priory without a woman present, the Mass was invalid because half the human race was missing. On other days, she said we should refuse to have Mass altogether until women could be ordained. She was smart and personable in some ways, but clearly, on this issue, nuts.
In the ancient rite, he kneels and the priest stands in front of the altar.
The deacon then stands upright, goes to the pulpit and does this. The public reading or chanting of the Gospel at Mass, btw, is strictly reserved to ordained men.
The nun was sitting next to me that day, watching this. She whispered to me, I could never do that bowing. It is so demeaning.
That, lady, is because you are a woman and why you don't understand men. Or the priesthood.
I know, from having been both a deacon and a priest in that ritual, that there is nothing at all demeaning in it. For a man, anyway. On the contrary, it is really about mutual recognition, bonding and respect, about courtly dignity and a shared sense of sacred order. To arrive at a place in the priestly hierarchy where you have an honored role within it, and show your place in it and are recognized by a more powerful member of it as belonging within it...that is far indeed from demeaning. It is an honor for a male. The fundamental task of the male is to find his proper place within the masculine tribe, a tribe which is always hierarchical. The worst fate is not to be on a lower rung, but to be on the outside of it entirely.*
As I learned from Anthony Stevens, the heart of the masculine archetype is rank and the heart of the feminine archetype is affiliation. And as I then saw myself: men use rank to create affiliation and women use affiliation to create rank.
Who is more savagely hierarchical than a group of girlfriends? Guy that I am, I much prefer the former for its honesty.
And while we are on the subject of religion, it seems to pass unnoticed by liberals and by feminists, that Christ's entire mission and centrality is wholly based on his obedient submission to the will of his Father. The Trinity, a deeply masculine image, asserts a root psychological truth: that the Father is First and the Son is Second, that the Son proceeds from the Father, and that both are equally God. A doctrine only a man could have imagined.
(And continuing, if you take the most deeply patriarchal and male-driven religion in the world, what does its name and program, its fundamental form of affiliation, mean?)
*That, btw, is the base wound of gay men: not to be considered lesser men but not to be considered men at all.