All posts tagged: gender

Editorial Musings: Is Hypermasculinity a Problem?

This week, in honor of the Edith Stein Conference taking place at Notre Dame, Church Life is focusing on themes related to gender and human sexuality. A recent M.Div. graduate, China Weil, thinks about how to engage in pastoral ministry with those who use pornography. Drawing from the resources of the Christian iconographic tradition, she argues that we ought to form men and women to contemplate salutary images rather than those that lead us to exercise the pornographic gaze. In addition, we are featuring an interview with Kimberly Baker, Associate Professor of Church History at St. Meinrad School of Theology and Seminary, on a conference on Women in the Church held in the fall. And we have two articles dealing with parenting and fertility: one by Claire Fyrqvist on learning to practice (sometimes in difficult moments) the joy of parenting, another by Dr. Hanna Klaus on the problem of treating fertility as a disease rather than a gift and thus intrinsic to human sexuality. In our editorial meetings leading up to this issue, we determined that something that …

Man, Woman, and the Mission of the Laity

Many of us living through this period of history look on with confusion and concern as we watch while our culture appears to unravel before our very eyes. It is becoming increasingly difficult to gain any traction for our efforts to defend our families and our communities from forces that seem determined to undermine the traditional understanding of the moral life that has governed Western culture for centuries. We find ourselves increasingly marginalized in public discourse about issues that cut to the heart of what it means to be human, let alone Christian. The controversies extend across many fronts, from religious liberty to women’s “rights,” from the breakdown of the family to same-sex unions, from local economic realities to the sometimes dubious benefits of globalization. As lay Catholics, we rely on our faith in the promises of Christ in the face of this situation, and rightly so. We renew our commitment to prayer and regular reception of the sacraments. We keep our families close and do our best to guard our children from the toxic …

Don’t Make Gender Platonic

According to a wise theology professor, heresy is “trying to find a simple solution that squashes the frustrating nuances and baffling complexities of the truth.” It is fitting that something so personal and holy, such as our gender, our very mode of operation in this world, would be buried under centuries of heresy, error, and social taboos. Certainly, we seek to understand something so mysterious and sacred as the gender of the human person, and it is doubly certain we fall miserably short of comprehending it. Recently, a friend shared with me a blog piece with the provocative title: “Why Man and Woman are Not Equal,” which perfectly captured one of the most common gender heresies (especially among conservatives and the neo-Victorians dwelling among us): the Sentimental Heresy. This piece posits: Women create, shape, and maintain human culture. Manners exist because women exist. Worthy men adjust their behavior when a woman enters the room. They become better creatures. Civilization arises and endures because women have expectations of themselves and of those around them. As I …

Which equality?

Americans have always been marked in a particular way by the ideal of “equality,” as the famous French traveler to our young nation, Alexis de Tocqueville, noted in his extensive travel log, Democracy in America. And no matter how much the ideal has been put into practice, the pursuit of equality never ceases to abate. On the contrary, it is stoked to a point of missionary fervor in the face of territories apparently still untouched by the civilizing ideal. This is especially true now where the relation between men and women is in question. At first glance, there couldn’t be anything more obvious than men and women being thought of and treated as equals, in the sense of equally human, even if this has not always been evident to everyone, as for example in the famous medieval querelle des femmes or “woman question” debate—though we would need a sense of humor to understand some of this. And there couldn’t be anything more desirable, especially since the equality of the sexes would be the reason for …

Approaching a Theology of Womanhood Through the Door of Empathy

What does it mean to say, as Pope Francis did in 2013, that “we need to work harder to develop a more profound theology of the woman”?[1] For that matter, what would it mean to say that we need a more profound theology of manhood? For many in the Church today, particularly in the United States, this is a moot question, as even implying that there are essential differences between women and men is enough to spark a heated debate. Too often, however, a just advocacy for equality between men and women becomes a misguided quest for uniformity, resulting in articulations of difference and complementarity (to say nothing of gendered language) being stricken from the record in favor of a kind of neutered theological discourse. The problem with such an approach within the context of the Church is that it presumes that a person’s encounter with God is something that can be experienced, interpreted, and lived out apart from the body. However, whether we like it or not, we human beings are embodied creatures; therefore, …