On Beyond Valentine’s Day!

I've got two great essays to share now that Valentine's Day is over, and you have to go on muddling through how to offer and receive love without quite so much guidance from Hallmark.  First up, in First Things, Alexi Sargeant has a great piece on dating and courtship, and the kind of deliberate work couples need to do to keep dating focused on its proper end: discernment. An overwhelming amount of the media we consume (from romantic films to television sitcoms) suggests that couples work out t … [Read more...]

Breaking Strains for Robots and Women

The ever-excellent cultural critic Alyssa Rosenberg has written a great essay today titled "Want to understand what it means to be a woman? Look to robots."  The gist: I haven’t seen anyone acknowledge the obvious point that so much of pop culture is making, and has been making for more than half a decade: Robots are an excellent metaphor for contemporary womanhood. Women are expected to declare ourselves flawless, but no matter how much we claim our perfection, we’re still forced to offer evid … [Read more...]

Why Make People Derive the Rules for Sex Themselves?

I'll be sending the monthly update on my book Arriving At Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer next week, and if you get the email, you can enter a lottery to get an early copy.  After I wrote a post on practical questions to ask about consent and coercion (and the way making a habit of these questions can develop your care and compassion), one of my commenters was concerned that telling people how to have sex more ethically is unethical, if I wind up implicitly condoning pr … [Read more...]

Ethical Sex: Paying attention to the consequences of “No”

A friend of mine shared an excellent essay with me on ways to understand consent.  Everyone is pretty familiar with "No means no" (even if the applications of sometimes remind me of what law school friends have sometimes told me about police executing unwarranted searches -- in one case, asking if they could search, removing the resident from the premises when he said no and cuffing him, and then asking the open door of the house, not hearing an objection, and walking in).  Still, it feels like m … [Read more...]

Throwing Spaghetti at the Modern Dating Wall

I've been seeing a fair amount in my feeds (both RSS and social media) about the Perils Of Flirting, and how to navigate them of late.Everything from a married friend mentioning that she gives positive feedback to the people who flirt with her well without noticing her ring, because she wants to encourage positive public flirting to a lot of internet discussion of the professor who shared how his anxiety about having any appropriate way to approach women drove him to (a) consider suicide and … [Read more...]

“Safety” is a Piss-Poor Pitch for Chastity

A recent First Things post aimed to arm its readers with a positive case for chastity, one that could appeal to non-Christian friends.  But I struggled to find anything positive or invigorating in the sample arguments presented.  For example: A case at University of Houston may serve. According to a legal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the facts aren’t unusual. One evening, after attending a UH event, a male student went to a nearby bar and met a female student for the first time. They … [Read more...]

Avoiding Rape-Adjacent Sex

I've seen a bunch of pieces about California's proposed Yes-Means-Yes law (which only applies to public college disciplinary hearing, not criminal standards), saying that the proposed law, requiring affirmative consent, isn't realistic.  Sex is too ambiguous for students to be confident, in any given hookup, whether they're having kosher sex or committing rape in the eyes of the law.I do believe them that there's plenty of sex happening now, that isn't experienced as rape by either partner, t … [Read more...]


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