You can listen to “Fights in Good Faith,” my weekly radio program, streaming today at 5pm ET and tomorrow (Sun) at 1pm. I’ll update this post when the episode is available to download and stream.
Every week, I put up a “Radio Readings” post, so you can track down the books, articles, and (this week) failed Lenten penances that I cite on the show. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m talking about this week.
Finding a Word for Your Sexuality
- It Happened to Me: I’m a Demisexual (Molly Martinson, xoJane)
You’ve probably never heard of demisexuality. Very few people have. What it means is that I don’t feel sexual attraction to someone unless I’ve first developed a deep emotional connection to them. That doesn’t mean I’ll become attracted to everyone I get that bond with, but it is a prerequisite.
Many people I’ve spoken to mistake this for being “normal.” They think I only mean I wouldn’t sleep with someone before I got to know them, which they themselves would not do.
For one thing, tons of people have flings, so being more selective isn’t always the norm. For another, most people feel sexual attraction to others, regardless of whether or not they would rationally act on those feelings. I, on the other hand, just barely understand what it means to feel sexual attraction.
- Nothing is Wrong With Your Sex Drive (Emily Nagoski, NYT)
I can’t count the number of women I’ve talked with who assume that because their desire is responsive, rather than spontaneous, they have “low desire”; that their ability to enjoy sex with their partner is meaningless if they don’t also feel a persistent urge for it; in short, that they are broken, because their desire isn’t what it’s “supposed” to be.
How are New Adjectives and Identities Helpful or Harmful?
- In “Keep Your Identity Small” Paul Graham worries that we’re least able to critically evaluate ideas we’ve made part of ourselves
- In Phaedrus, Socrates says that categories ought to correspond with the world as it is
That of dividing things again by classes, where the natural joints are, and not trying to break any part, after the manner of a bad carver
- I often like to think of identity-markers as similar to the Guess Who? game, a way of locating someone in their particularity. I try to dress in order to cue people on the more relevant aspects of my identity as quickly as possible (a lot of nerdy shirts, a theatre bag, etc)
- In “On Special Snowflakes” Ozy talks about how expanding, detailed adjectives help us remember how imperfectly we know each other.
If we think the typical mind fallacy is a fallacy– if we believe that universal human experiences are not shared by everyone– then we should embrace Tumblr’s habit of precise language and fine distinctions. Perhaps we do not wish to apply it to our sex lives; perhaps we want to apply it to productivity, or nonsexual social roles, or aptitudes, and leave sex to the “eh, I guess I’m kind of normal” category. But it is strange and destructive to be against people wanting to understand themselves better.
Finding the Wor(l)d Where You’re Not an Exile
- In “What’s Hiding Behind Our Identity (Politics)?” Eve Tushnet discusses what happens when we let a label become a too-compete encapsulation of ourself and our history
- Sometimes. finding an identity/adjective feels like the world making sense of itself — to borrow from C.S. Lewis:
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world
- Or from History Boys:
The best moments in reading are when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours.
- I’ve had this feeling with respect both to “real” categories/identities as well as fictional ones (particularly Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series)
What’s in the Name (of my book)?
- Finally, a little on why I originally suggested to my editor that Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer (out May 7th!) be titled A Zeno Paradoxical Faith
- Here’s a relevant excerpt from the book:
But sometimes, even that circuitous route to grace is too difficult to walk. Maybe I can’t even honestly ask Mary to shelter me because I’m reluctant to accept her loving help or am too mired in self-pity to feel worthy of her attentions or because I’m so furious with my antagonist that I’d rather refuse help than receive healing alongside him. In those times, I have to find an even easier way to make a tottering approach to God.When I can’t honestly ask Mary to guide us both, I may be able to step back and say that I would like to be able to honestly ask Mary to guide us both, even if it’s impossible for me to say at present. Well, if God grants that prayer, I will be able to return to honestly and without reservations implore Mary to guide us both, and then, when he grants that one, I can rely on Mary to undo the original knot.
Sometimes it takes several backward steps of “I want to want to want to . . . have Mary guide us both” before I can find an honest petition. Retracing my steps and lining up these dominoes of desire allows me to find a path, no matter how easy it needs to be, that lets me take one step toward Christ.