Since Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, has been urging us to lean in, conversations have been buzzing about what it means to be a feminist. I’m always thankful for the opportunity to revisit the question.
It would be easy for those of us who lean to the left of the political spectrum to dismiss the right by saying that they are waging a war on women, but that would deny the whole picture. What about Sarah Palin? What about Michelle Bachmann? And what about the other Grizzly Mamas who are being plucked, groomed and prepared as we speak?
I always feel like using the mom card highlights some sort of gender defect. My husband was a work-at-home dad for three years, and he has been just as involved in the diaper changing, sick days and parent/teacher meetings as I have. But I always have a feeling that when a guy uses the parent card, people think, What a great dad. But when women use it, people think, What an inept worker.
The disappearance of well-paying manufacturing jobs in the U.S. has decimated the middle class. It has also put stress on gender roles—especially in the South, where there’s a strong presumption, backed by evangelical Christian teaching, that being a man means providing financially for your family.
A priest poses the question to a group of children: "How many sacraments are there?" Without missing a beat a little girl responds: "Seven for boys, and six for girls." The math may differ for different communions, with fewer sacraments distributed more equitably among the genders, but Susan A. Ross of Loyola University raises questions that no sacramental tradition can ignore. She posits a principle all traditions could embrace: all of life is potentially revelatory of the divine. Then Ross surveys all facets of her question: how can one construct a sacramental theology that takes the bodies of men and women as seriously as it takes the body of Christ?