Showing posts with label Christopher Roberts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christopher Roberts. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

GENDER AS GENRE: Twice in the past two weeks, while rooting through bins of children's clothing to find the best things for the women we serve at the pregnancy center, I've found cute little t-shirts emblazoned with figure-skating logos. Cute, ruffly, pink, indisputably girly t-shirts. And I mean, I love Oksana Baiul as much as the next person, and this program makes me want a cigarette afterward, but my overall preference turns out to be for men's singles skating. I want a way of thinking about gender which allows men and women to be different--allows Man and Woman, He and She, to be iconic realities whose divergences are as vivid as their similarities--without parceling out some activities or emotions as pink or blue.

There needs to be a way of talking about gender which neither marginalizes la difference, nor falls back on rigid and deeply culturally-contingent patterns of behavior. Saying, for example, that children do best with both a mother and a father is not reducible to saying that children need both a nurturing person and a challenging person. Gender isn't function. I've written about this here (actually, that post says much of what I wanted to say in this one, so maybe just consider this a reminder and footnote!), and I liked a lot of what Christopher C. Roberts said about it in his book Creation and Covenant.

One partial analogy might be genre. Every emotion and gesture can be found in different genres, and yet those emotions are evoked differently and those gestures signify different things depending on genre. A woman standing at her window, nervously twitching the curtain with her fingers, means something different in a romantic comedy as vs. a suspense flick. Hope is evoked differently in horror vs. noir.

The analogy is only partial. For a Catholic, while the specifics of gender are culturally-contingent the existence of gender difference is not; and you do have to pick one, man or woman are your only options within the Catholic faith as far as I can tell. Obviously those things aren't true of genre. But I hope the analogy can illuminate the possibility of talking about real difference without being reductive or functionalist, without dressing boys in the camouflage onesies and the soccer/football/basketball sleepers while girls get the flower- and butterfly-decked outfits.

I'd be interested in any thoughts you all have along these lines....

Thursday, December 01, 2011

By definition, the language of liberalism fails to engage on common terms with the communion of saints and the lordship of Christ.
--Christopher C. Roberts, Creation and Covenant: The Significance of Sexual Difference in the Moral Theology of Marriage

One thing I found heartening at Oriented to Love was how many of us--from quite varying religious, philosophical, and political perspectives--made strong critiques of the liberal rights-framework as applied to homosexuality, without backing away from our commitment to seeking justice for LGBT people. A bit more on that, probably, in the write-up I'm doing for PRISM magazine.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, BABY: Some scattered notes on that Christopher Roberts talk (I've ordered his book, as well).

* CR argues that Augustine speaks, against several other early Christian theologians, for the body and for sex difference as a feature of our life in Eden, not a precursor or foreshadowing of the Fall. For him, to have a sexed body is to have a vocation.

* CR: Progressive theology of marriage separates creation and redemption--for progressive, pro-gay-marriage theologians, sex difference is about creation/procreation and is private, while redemption (linked to marriage?) is ecclesial but unisex.

* Some good if glancing cultural criticism, calling for a switch from a dating model of young adulthood to a discernment model.

* One questioner deploys transgender people as wedges to get gay marriage for cis people. I disapprove of that as a rhetorical strategy [eta: because it uses other people to get what you want, rather than attempting to serve or understand them]. It also tends to obscure the actual theological questions involved in transgender experience. (More.)

* CR gives really interesting pushback on JPII's “genius of women” stuff and whether there are inherent characteristics of gender i.e. boys don't cry, girls are nurturing.

* From my perspective, his least-satisfying answer to audience questions is the one about gay adoption, where he chooses trivializing language, so just be aware of that going in.
Celibacy is a sign that intercourse between men and women is not compulsory--that sex is a gift, not a law or a right.
--Christopher Roberts, here; more on this in a moment