Women, power and ordination: A psychological interpretation of objections to the ordination of women to the priesthood

Maggie Kirkman, Norma Grieve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The ordination of women to the priesthood is a subject which still encounters strong antagonism from both men and women. In this paper, such antagonism is interpreted using the thesis of Dinnerstein (1978) which suggests that it may be an expression of the flight from maternal power. The experience of a woman as the first caretaker, coupled with the infant's primitive capacity to deal with the necessarily dependent and frustrating relationship with her, leads men and women to associate their ambivalent fantasies of maternal power with female authority. In particular, the ordination of women for a role which is itself mystically powerful provokes arguments and attitudes which can be interpreted as an expression of this irrational fear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-494
Number of pages8
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1984
Externally publishedYes

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