From the pages of Crisis, Rachel Lu offers her opinion on female altar servers, and the feminine role in liturgy:
When men are in charge of liturgy, they generally favor austerity, solemnity and reverence. They are far more likely to have “high” liturgical sensibilities. When women claim a more central role, we frequently see a slide into lower and more culturally idiosyncratic practices. It generally starts with campy banners and popular-style hymnody, but may end with synthesizers and scantily-clad liturgical dancers. These liturgies are not beautiful or uplifting. They’re more like a never-ending hug from a grasping, obsequious aunt. I have sometimes heard this sort of liturgy referred to as “feminine” or “effeminate.” I don’t especially like that, because I don’t believe that bad liturgy is really representative of what women have to offer. I’m a woman, and I hate schlocky liturgy. I don’t believe I would become more womanly by embracing tambourine bands, or receiving Communion in the hand. Still, there’s no doubt that women are more apt to produce bad liturgy. Perhaps we could say that it is “feminine” in the same way that pornography is “masculine”: it shows us some characteristic defects of one sex in particular. My husband suggests that men’s liturgical sensibilities may reflect differences in how they tend to perceive God. It’s natural to men to regard the Almighty as a supremely great captain or general. He is the ultimate one in charge. Worship, for men, is somewhat akin to a military salute: it should be austere and magnificent because the goal is to honor our Creator. Women’s natural orientation is more interpersonal. They are more likely to perceive God as loving and solicitous. Think of a grown woman affectionately referring to her father as Daddy (and then imagine how ridiculous that would sound coming from a man). It is perhaps not strange, then, that female-engineered liturgies tend to feel more like a hug (and to incorporate more actual hugs).
You can read my take on all this here.
Photo: Our Lady Queen of Martyrs / Rosalind Chan