All posts tagged: femininity

The Virgin Mary as “Eternal Woman”

The holier a woman, the more she is a woman. —Léon Bloy To call the Virgin Mary the “Eternal Woman,” as I do in the title of this essay, is, of course, to allude to the title of Gertrud von Le Fort’s famous book, The Eternal Woman, first published in German as Die Ewige Frau in 1933. In Sister Prudence Allen’s magnum opus, The Concept of Woman, she devotes two pages to a brief discussion of Le Fort (1876−1971), highlighting her personal and intellectual kinship with Edith Stein (1891−1942), whom Le Fort visited in the Carmel in Cologne and with whom she exchanged letters. Sr. Allen excerpts the following passage from one of Stein’s five extant letters to Le Fort, dated January 31, 1935: Dear Baroness, Our retreat ended this morning. A retreat in Carmel—all that’s lacking to make it heaven is one’s own holiness. My spiritual reading those days was your new book. I could not get to it earlier. Now at last I can thank you for this beautiful Christmas gift. I would …

Lady Wisdom: Redeeming Femininity

When I was little, I had to beg my mom to allow me to wear basketball shorts and jerseys outside of the house. In second grade, I couldn’t understand why the other girls made fun of me for having a best friend who was a boy. When it came time to choose after-school activities, I devoted all my time to basketball practices while most of my friends enrolled in jazz and tap dance. Even in middle school, I was resentful of my female classmates for wanting to spend recess gossiping about their crushes instead of playing touch football. You could say that from an early age, I was definitively a tomboy. Imagine my surprise and confusion as I entered my pre-teen and teen years and discovered that it was no longer socially acceptable to wear only basketball shorts and t-shirts. Instead, I began to inherit the aisles of the makeup section at Target and endless anxiety that I couldn’t fit into skinny jeans. Needless to say, while being socialized to become a typical teenage American …