The scrutinized priest: women in the Church of England negotiating professional and sacred clothing regimes

Sarah-Jane Page*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article examines the integration of women priests in the Church of England through the lens of dress. Clothing is a salient dynamic in occupational cultures, particularly in relation to the regulation of gendered bodies. Women's ordination to the priesthood was only sanctioned in 1992. Complex clothing regimes are negotiated, for ordination bestows upon the priest certain clothing rights and responsibilities. However, such attire has traditionally been associated only with the male body, creating tension in relation to women's appropriation of this sacred and professional dress. Based on in-depth interviews with 17 Anglican clergy women, this article will focus both on the scrutiny the women experienced in relation to their clothing choices, as well as the relationship the women themselves negotiated with their clothes. It will be argued that as representatives of both a sacred and professional domain, clothing had to be carefully managed by clergy. Dress functioned as a key test in women's integration into the organization, often operating as a constraining and exclusionary mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-307
Number of pages13
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Volume21
Issue number4
Early online date25 Sep 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Page, S-J. (2014). The scrutinised priest: women in the Church of England negotiating professional and sacred clothing regimes. Gender, work and organization, 21(4), 295-307, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12035. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

Keywords

  • Church of England
  • clothing
  • gender
  • women priests

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