Pro-Choice and Christian: Reconciling Faith, Politics, and Justice BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver

In 2015 Kira Schlesinger wrote piece for Ministry Matters about how her own pro-choice stance on abortion had become more complicated the more she explored the issue of abortion. The article was widely read and shared, as well as hotly debated by many. You can read this article and the many comments here. Out of the response to this article grew Schlesinger’s Pro-Choice and Christian: Reconciling Faith, Politics, and Justice.

The book does a great job of walking the fine line of being both academically engaging and an easy enough read to engage a book or Bible study group as well. Schlesinger uses the first couple of chapters to dig into the history of abortion, listing recorded examples of the process as early as 1300 BCE. From there she briefly walks the reader through the roughly 100 years (Comstock Act in 1873 until Roe v. Wade in 1973) during which abortion was illegal in the United States. Finally, she wraps up this beginning historical section with details about the generations after Roe v. Wade up to our current reality.

Continue reading “Pro-Choice and Christian: Reconciling Faith, Politics, and Justice BOOK REVIEW by Katie M. Deaver”

My Fanime Exploration of Fan Fiction—Questions of Consent and Erotic Expression

Sara FrykenbergEvery year, my husband, sister and I attend the Japanese animation convention Fanimecon in San Jose, CA. We cosplay, watch anime and peruse the various panels designed for fan entertainment and education. This year I was even lucky enough to be interviewed for the student film Unconventional, about cosplay culture, which you can check out following the link above!

Since I can’t (and don’t want to) leave my feminist lens at home, I often seek out the panels that address issues of representation, gender, diversity and sexuality when attending this conference; and usually, the con does not disappoint. Here are some examples of the panels hosted at Fanimecon in the past three years: Continue reading “My Fanime Exploration of Fan Fiction—Questions of Consent and Erotic Expression”

Christian Sex Ain’t So Vanilla by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismMy recent literary digests have included memoirs and nonfiction audiobooks on sex, relationships, and non-monogamy. A recent listen, Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage by feminist activist Jenny Block, provides insight into the paradigmatic features of open marriage drawing on the personal experiences of a bisexual woman. Currently, I’m musing over my latest read: The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures written by psychotherapist Dossie Easton and author and sex educator Janet W. Hardy. Through my literary adventures, I can’t help but reflect on my own sexual conditioning and upbringing in the Pentecostal church.

The authors of these feminist-friendly, sex-positive books and social movements did not exist in the church I grew up in, and I feel quite saddened by this. While my sexual conditioning in the church was far from liberating, these reads have helped me realize that the religious community wasn’t as mundane as I thought. My early sex education which was conservative consisted of the anatomical and biological basics (Arizona education system, need I say more?) and early conditioning of sex morals and ethics in the church. The latter was more influential to my perception of sex, gender, and relationships. Of course the media and my peers constructed my views of sexual culture and gender norms, but the church had the greatest impact during my childhood and adolescence. Continue reading “Christian Sex Ain’t So Vanilla by Andreea Nica”

Anti-sex feminism? by Linn Marie Tonstad

Linn Marie TonstadLori Gottlieb’s article in the February 9 New York Times magazine, “The Egalitarian-Marriage Conundrum,” was yet another tired entry in the New York Times’s annual clickbait misogyny Olympics. Who doesn’t remember the supposed opt-out revolution, and the sadness of the decade-later follow-up demonstrating every single consequence that any feminist could have predicted? Or the weekly gender terrorism spewed by Maureen Dowd, who somehow gets people to believe that constant belittling and feminizing male Democratic politicians counts as incisive, progressive political commentary? To name just a few of the most memorable, and most infuriating, examples.  

Gottlieb’s article rehashed the studies – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read about them in one version or another – that suggest that equality in household labor leads to decreased frequency of intercourse among married heterosexual couples. The most revolting lines in the article – among many contenders – start with a quote from Julie Brines, the author of the study in question: ‘”The less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire.’ In other words, in an attempt to be gender-neutral, we may have become gender-neutered.” It is possible that Brines may be quoted out of context, or that what she intended to say was something quite different, but as the quotation stands, it implicitly suggests that so-called “traditional” gender differentiation is necessary for sexually satisfying heterosexual relationships. (For, of course, there are plenty of other ways in which gender differentiation might be present in heterosexual relationships. Gender differentiation is here being equated with a very particular set of decisions about ‘housework’, a notion that arguably exists only to render some parts of women’s work invisible.) That’s before getting into the implications of the word “neutered” used in the second sentence. Why would egalitarian distribution of household labor be considered “gender-neutral” to begin with? Continue reading “Anti-sex feminism? by Linn Marie Tonstad”

The Need for Asexuality in Theological Discourse by Elisabeth Schilling

Asexuality is an orientation that is misunderstood and marginalized. That is, if it is allowed a presence at all. I consider myself to be sensual, loving to receive and give pleasure, affectionate and romantic, and longing for a relationship that respects my bodily boundaries which happens, for me, to mean physical touch that does not include genital sex.

The recognition of asexuality into our theological and theoretical discussions can offer another way of understanding agency and the erotic in our lives. It can help us access the sacred narratives we long to have deeper connections with. In addition, when we allow a more holistic and generous understanding of asexuality as it is actually experienced by those who self-identify as such, it creates a livable space for us to exist, to imagine in midrash, perhaps, among the abstinence narratives which can be problematic in theological literature, our sacred presence.

Consider Mary, the “Virgin Mary” who was told she would have a child in a very queer way. Continue reading “The Need for Asexuality in Theological Discourse by Elisabeth Schilling”

Finding my Voice through the Vagina Monologues By Anonymous

This post is written in conjunction with the Feminist Ethics Course Dialogue project sponsored by Claremont School of Theology in the Claremont Lincoln University Consortium,  Claremont Graduate University, and directed by Grace Yia-Hei Kao.

“Are you going to the Vagina Monologues try-outs tonight?” my friend asked me last year after class.

“I hadn’t planned on it,” I replied cautiously. Truth be told, the word ‘vagina’ made me uncomfortable. There were yearly productions of the Vagina Monologues at my undergraduate institution, but I never went. I thought it was a time when women gathered and performed monologues they had written, and I thought it demeaning to have these monologues named metonymically. I did not want to be associated with the Monologues: I was in favor of women’s equality, but I did not want to claim my sexuality in so visceral a manner. In my mind, the ‘Vagina’ of Vagina Monologues just referred to the actresses, not the content.

How wrong I was.  Continue reading “Finding my Voice through the Vagina Monologues By Anonymous”

Sexual Ethics and Southern Belles By Amanda Pumphrey

This post is written in conjunction with the Feminist Ethics Course Dialogue project sponsored by Claremont School of Theology in the Claremont Lincoln University Consortium,  Claremont Graduate University, and directed by Grace Yia-Hei Kao.

Amanda Pumphrey is a first year Ph.D. student in women’s studies in religion at Claremont Graduate University. She received her MA in religion from Claremont School of Theology and her BA in religious studies from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. Amanda enjoys studying Christian sexual ethics and feminist and queer theologies. 

It’s 8th grade. I’m in the girls’ bathroom during lunch time and I ask my friend in the stall next to me if she has a tampon that I can use. “Amanda Brookins, I didn’t know you wasn’t a virgin nomore!” screams another friend who is waiting on me. I was confused by her comment, but I later learned that her mother had explained to her that girls could not wear tampons unless they had had sex. Which translated into only married women should be utilizing tampons. This is the context in which I grew up: South Georgia where there is virtually no comprehensive sex education in the public school systems. In this small southern town, I learned about sex through my youth group at a country, Pentecostal church. What I learned was that sex was sinful and it was not something that I should even think about until I was married. Christianity and southern culture go hand in hand within my hometown, so as a born again Christian and a girl I was expected to “save myself for marriage” and my future husband, and to uphold my status as a polite and proper southern belle. The norms were already established: sex is for marriage which is a Christian institution between one man and one woman.  Continue reading “Sexual Ethics and Southern Belles By Amanda Pumphrey”

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