Pointy bishop hats for everyone! Photo: Getty
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I'm a big Jesus fan! Make me the first lesbian bishop, Church of England

All over the world, socially liberal Christians would be able to say that they’d lived to see a Jewish lesbian don the pointy hat of bishopdom

Yay for the Church of England, I suppose. The slightly liberal parents of the Christian world (the kind who might let you stay up to watch something on the telly that contains adult situations) have just granted women the right to wear big, pointy hats.

From my entirely non-Christian perspective, the issue of female bishops in the C of E has, for aeons, been going a bit like this:

General Synod: “I don’t know… God gets really smitey when we let women do stuff.”

Desmond Tutu (the voice of reason): “Let women be bishops. Also, let people be gay and stuff.”

General Synod: “No.”

As of this week though, a consensus has finally been reached within the Church that bishops can and will have vaginas. Meanwhile, in another longstanding dispute over modernisation, the Archbishop of Canterbury “continues to struggle” with the idea of gay marriage. As it stands, the C of E still officially defines marriage as something between a man and a woman. PR-wise, it occurs to me that the self-identified Church of liberalism, puppies and rainbows should move forward on this issue pretty sharpish. And if they’d like to align themselves with The Gays in one decisive action, I suggest that they make me, Eleanor M Margolis (BA), the first ever lesbian bishop.

Since I’m also Jewish, this move would give the Church double “look how chill we are” points. All over the world, socially liberal Christians would be able to say that they’d lived to see a Jewish lesbian don the pointy hat of bishopdom. Oh, I’m also agnostic.

So what, you may well ask, are my credentials? For starters, I’m a big Jesus fan. I went to primary school before teaching from the Bible became unfashionable in state education. As a strong believer in the separation of church and state, I’m not saying it’s a shame that this practice is dying out. On the other hand, I remember hearing Bible stories about Jesus helping the poor and generally being a sweet, beardy socialist and thinking he seemed cool. This is something that’s stuck with me, and I often find myself quoting Jesus at right wing Christians, while wondering how it’s even possible to be right wing and Christian, when Jesus was such an obvious lefty.

“A new command I give you: Love one another.” – John 34:35. If you take issue with that, you’re a dick.

Aside from being a Jesus freak, I’m excellent at moving diagonally across chequered floors. You should see me – I swoop. And while I struggle to see how religion isn’t messing up the world in countless ways (I’m a non-practising Jew, by the way) a big part of me is desperate for it to be used as a force for good.

So, General Synod (who I’ve probably grossly offended) hear me out. I suspect that the kind of women you have in mind for bishopdom are, you know, massive Christians. But was Jesus Christian? Make this Sapphic Semite a bishop and kill two doves with one stone. Except don’t actually kill them, because that would be a bit violent for the C of E. Wing them, maybe.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

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Leaving the cleaning to someone else makes you happier? Men have known that for centuries

Research says avoiding housework is good for wellbeing, but women have rarely had the option.

If you want to be happy, there is apparently a trick: offload the shitwork onto somebody else. Hire cleaner. Get your groceries delivered. Have someone else launder your sheets. These are the findings published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, but it’s also been the foundation of our economy since before we had economics. Who does the offloading? Men. Who does the shitwork? Women.

Over the last 40 years, female employment has risen to almost match the male rate, but inside the home, labour sticks stubbornly to old patterns: men self-report doing eight hours of housework a week, while women slog away for 13. When it comes to caring for family members, the difference is even more stark: men do ten hours, and women 23.

For your average heterosexual couple with kids, that means women spend 18 extra hours every week going to the shops, doing the laundry, laying out uniform, doing the school run, loading dishwashers, organising doctors' appointments, going to baby groups, picking things up, cooking meals, applying for tax credits, checking in on elderly parents, scrubbing pots, washing floors, combing out nits, dusting, folding laundry, etcetera etcetera et-tedious-cetera.

Split down the middle, that’s nine hours of unpaid work that men just sit back and let women take on. It’s not that men don’t need to eat, or that they don’t feel the cold cringe of horror when bare foot meets dropped food on a sticky kitchen floor. As Katrine Marçal pointed out in Who Cooked Adam Smiths Dinner?, men’s participation in the labour market has always relied on a woman in the background to service his needs. As far as the majority of men are concerned, domestic work is Someone Else’s Problem.

And though one of the study authors expressed surprise at how few people spend their money on time-saving services given the substantial effect on happiness, it surely isn’t that mysterious. The male half of the population has the option to recruit a wife or girlfriend who’ll do all this for free, while the female half faces harsh judgement for bringing cover in. Got a cleaner? Shouldn’t you be doing it yourself rather than outsourcing it to another woman? The fact that men have even more definitively shrugged off the housework gets little notice. Dirt apparently belongs to girls.

From infancy up, chores are coded pink. Looking on the Toys “R” Us website, I see you can buy a Disney Princess My First Kitchen (fuchsia, of course), which is one in the eye for royal privilege. Suck it up, Snow White: you don’t get out of the housekeeping just because your prince has come. Shop the blue aisle and you’ll find the Just Like Home Workshop Deluxe Carry Case Workbench – and this, precisely, is the difference between masculine and feminine work. Masculine work is productive: it makes something, and that something is valuable. Feminine work is reproductive: a cleaned toilet doesn’t stay clean, the used plates stack up in the sink.

The worst part of this con is that women are presumed to take on the shitwork because we want to. Because our natures dictate that there is a satisfaction in wiping an arse with a woman’s hand that men could never feel and money could never match. That fiction is used to justify not only women picking up the slack at home, but also employers paying less for what is seen as traditional “women’s work” – the caring, cleaning roles.

It took a six-year legal battle to secure compensation for the women Birmingham council underpaid for care work over decades. “Don’t get me wrong, the men do work hard, but we did work hard,” said one of the women who brought the action. “And I couldn’t see a lot of them doing what we do. Would they empty a commode, wash somebody down covered in mess, go into a house full of maggots and clean it up? But I’ll tell you what, I would have gone and done a dustman’s job for the day.”

If women are paid less, they’re more financially dependent on the men they live with. If you’re financially dependent, you can’t walk out over your unfair housework burden. No wonder the settlement of shitwork has been so hard to budge. The dream, of course, is that one day men will sack up and start to look after themselves and their own children. Till then, of course women should buy happiness if they can. There’s no guilt in hiring a cleaner – housework is work, so why shouldn’t someone get paid for it? One proviso: every week, spend just a little of the time you’ve purchased plotting how you’ll overthrow patriarchy for good.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.