Mary Ann Sieghart, comments in The Independent on a depressing week for women:
What a depressing week it has been to be female. A psychopathically violent woman-beater and murderer is lionised. A film director who drugs and then sodomises a 13-year-old girl is let off. A famous actor tells his ex-partner she deserves to be "raped by a pack of niggers". And the Catholic Church elevates women's ordination to the same level of offence as child abuse. Thanks, chaps.
Even in the Church of England, which now has women priests and is close to accepting women as bishops, the hatred and vilification are shocking. At last weekend's meeting of the General Synod, some women priests were spat at. And a male bishop who appeared on the radio programme I made complained that the Synod had now been "swamped" by part-time women clergy or – as he put it – "ladies with time on their hands".
Hearing a word like "swamped", you might expect the House of Clergy to have been taken over by women. In fact, they account for just 39 of 197 members. In other words, men still take up 80 per cent of the places. But if women are seen as threatening and monstrous – as in that priest's painting – even their minority presence is hugely amplified.
This overestimation of the power and representation of women is commonplace. Research shows that when women speak in the classroom exactly 50 per cent of the time, both men and women think they spoke more. When I took part in an internet debate recently about whether Oxford University was sexist, James Kingston, president of the Oxford Union, said: "Most of the History tutors at Christ Church seem to be women." In fact, there are six women and six men there.