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'Freedom from Femaleness' is not Empowerment
A conversation with Abigail Favale, author of The Genesis of Gender
My day job is with Braver Angels, a non-profit helping people speak to each other across the political divide. Tonight, we’ll be hosting an abortion debate on R: The rights of an adult woman take precedence over the rights of a fetus. My daughter’s sleeping is too irregular for me to chair debates for now, but I’ll be in the audience and may be asking questions.
I had the pleasure of talking to Abigail Favale for the Ignatius Press podcast about her new book, The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory. I loved Abigail’s conversion memoir, and I consistently find her to be a sharp thinker with a merry sense of humor.
Abigail is definitely interested in questions that pertain to Other Feminisms. In her book, she notes that, “Too often, freedom for women is cast as freedom from femaleness,” and she notes what specifically about womanhood is unwelcome in the world:
Under this new banner of autonomy, female embodiment becomes a threat. Women's bodies are too porous, too open to the selfhood of another. Pregnancy and maternity belie the modern ideal of the autonomous self.
As you all know, this is my hobbyhorse, too! And I think everyone is more porous than our world is prepared to accept. So I asked Abigail one question I’m curious about, “Where does this expectation of autonomy pinch men?”
Abigail’s book is a blend of memoir and theology, so we also got to tackle some explicitly Christian questions, including,
You talk about the change in men and women’s relationship after the Fall, and the way both sexes bear the consequences but differently. At present, when it feels like unequal or inequivalent is inherently unjust, how do you see good in this asymmetry?
I really enjoyed our conversation, and I’d welcome your comments or follow up questions. (I can check with Abigail, but I can’t guarantee a reply).