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Gender


On Being the Occasion of Joy in Rowan Williams’ “The Body’s Grace”

This is about “the doomed task of getting it right.” And by “it,” I mean sexuality. And by “I,” I mean Rowan Williams. Doomed, he says, because “[n]othing will stop sex being tragic and comic. It is above all the area of our lives where we can be rejected in our bodily entirety … And […]

Why Ada Calhoun Can’t Sleep

I’ve been struck by the publicity surrounding Ada Calhoun‘s new book, Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis, which takes as its subject the creeping insomnia, restlessness, and burnout Calhoun has noticed among American women of her own generation. While we wait for the book itself to arrive, a couple soundbites of Calhoun tracing the shape of today’s little-l laws were too tempting not to post. And probably goes without saying but her diagnosis extends beyond the demographic in question; as a non-GenX lady, I recognize much of this in my own life. Shades of #seculosity abound! (Note how many times the word “enough” is used). This first bit is from an interview she did with NPR:

“One thing that a sociologist who studies the generations told me is that our generation [Gen X] tends to judge ourselves based on everything. So if, you know, in the past the question was, how nice is your home? Or how good are you at your job? Now it’s like, it’s all of the things. So it’s – are you a good parent? Are you good at work? Are you – you know, is your house nice? Are you in shape? Are you recycling? Like, it’s every single factor in life you have to excel at. And I think that level of pressure is unsustainable.

These next paragraphs are taken from Calhoun’s Q&A with Maria Shriver:

What I think happened to women in this generation was when we were girls we were told we could “be anything, even president!” And as I was interviewing all these women around the country I heard from them that the idea that they could do anything somehow morphed somehow into a directive that they must do everything—and do it all effortlessly. In middle age, they are likely to find that they haven’t lived up to this fantasy they had for themselves, epitomized by the crimes against humanity that were those Enjoli perfume ads about bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan. If women bought into that idea (as many of us did), they may have a family but not a career or vice versa and then feel like they are not doing enough. Even a lot of women I talked to who were doing a stressful full-time job and a lot of caregiving (the classic definition of “it all”) felt like they had failed in some way—maybe they had both work and family but they weren’t in good physical shape, their kids weren’t getting good grades, they worked all the time but still couldn’t afford a nice vacation, or they were just very, very tired…

In interviewing these women, I learned that a lot of the stress seemed to be coming out of shame—they felt they should be more successful, maybe, but also more grateful. They would say, “I’m so lucky, I have no right to complain.” And then they would describe what they expected from themselves and what they were dealing with. The responsibilities and pressures would be massive, but the thing that seemed to be pushing them over the edge into despair was this idea that they were whining if they admitted how hard it was. They would dismiss what they were feeling by making a joke about #FirstWorldProblems. And they would tell me that they knew if only they could do enough yoga or find the right herbal tea or learn about CBD oil, the feeling of unease would go away. This book tries to show that no, if you are stressed out it isn’t necessarily that you did something wrong or you haven’t made the right chore chart—maybe the deck is stacked against you.

Against Identity, or By the Grace of God I Am What I Am

“You are my eternal Father, but I am scattered in times whose order I do not understand. The storms of incoherent events tear to pieces my thoughts, the inmost entrails of my soul, until that day when, purified and molten by the fire of your love, I flow together to merge into you.” – Augustine, […]

Boys Will Be Boys (and Other Dodgy Excuses)

I stood a few steps away from my young daughter at a playground, watching her wait patiently as all the boys dashed in front of her and repeatedly took her toys away. Sometimes they would ask, but usually not. I stood there feeling a little helpless, not sure if I should intervene, wondering whether any […]

No Body Wins

Very thankful for this candid piece from an anonymous writer. I am a survivor of sexual violence. I now work closely with other survivors. I didn’t seek out a job where I would do this type of work, but I wouldn’t exactly call it an accident that I’m doing this type of work, either. It […]

Sarah Coakley, Against “Sweaty Pelagianism”

Why are we talking so much about bodies? Not just Christians, but everyone. Whether it’s our devotion to workouts and dieting, our “gender trouble” and overwrought attempts at sexual ethics, our reproductive anxieties, our reckoning with racial histories, our climate emergency, or some other perplexity, the fleshiness of our lives stands front and center in […]

When the World Calls Them Otherwise, God Calls Them Good

It is a scary time to be raising children. But boys come with their own narrative of misbehaviors. Boys are deemed too intense, too loud, too active. They misbehave earlier and more demonstrably than most girls. They have a much higher rate of diagnosis for challenges like ADHD and mood disorders. They spend more time […]

Happy Father’s Day: Try Not to Kill Dad

Here we are, the week before Father’s Day, and I decided to make a shopping trip for my husband to my favorite local gift shop. It is the kind of place that I could walk into and find five pairs of earrings I can’t live without and a tray for my work desk that says, […]

Don’t Ruin Brunch: A Mother’s Day Primer for the Church

I’ve got an idea for churches this upcoming Sunday. Please just ignore Mother’s Day. I do not know why we started to attach the church to this secular holiday, but for the love of all that is sacred and holy, she wants us to stop. I got a desperate note from her in the mail. […]

Confessions of a Fallen Soldier (in the Battle for Male Purity)

This post was written by Clifton Hanson. I know of too many instances where girls have been taught, implicitly or explicitly, that the love of God is somehow contingent on their ability to remain “pure.” So writes Sarah Condon in her recent piece for this site. Well, that gets right the heart of things, doesn’t it? […]

A Football Filled with Goat’s Blood (and Other Things Men Can Do For Women)

Arunachalam Muruganantham is a personal hero of mine. Like most men, Muruganantham had no idea how menstruation even worked before he married his wife. As people with little means in India, he began to realize the incredible challenge that women like his wife faced when their periods came. There are profound health hazards that come along […]

A Pastoral Missive to Gen X Women

Laydeez, My day (and avocado toast) was ruined by the well-meaning forward of an article called The New Midlife Crisis for Women. It is on Oprah’s website, naturally. So while I was expecting some #liveyourbestlife -ness, I was slammed with the reality of your lives. I gotta say, I am worried. I was born in […]