Hännah Ettinger blogs, tweets, is the founding publisher of The Swan Children Magazine, and dishes feminist critique of YA novels over at The YA Wallpaper.
When I was at Grove City College, one of my professors asked us if we identified with our bodies as our physical selves. That question was revolutionary to me, a child of evangelical church culture. To my Catholic peers, this idea was easy, even catechized for them to the point of blasé assumption. But I had never thought about it before — and apparently Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel haven’t really considered it, either. Their new book, It’s Great to Be a Girl!: A Guide to Your Changing Body, is meant to be a quick, interactive, and approachable guidebook for prepubescent girls about health and beauty. (Sort of like the Christian response to the American Girl series The Care and Keeping of You.) It touches briefly on everything from mother/daughter relationships, hair care ideas, balanced food portioning, exercise, and the female reproductive system. Read more
Last week, the Goochland County school board in Virginia was hounded by homeschooling parents to back down from a new approach regarding religious exemptions from school attendance and annual testing. Homeschool parents complained that the proposed changes would be a violation of their First Amendment rights, since it would require children over the age of 14 to agree with their parents’ request for a religious exemption and possibly even testify to the school board about why their religious beliefs required them to be exempt from traditional school. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) objected on the grounds that the change would require homeschooled children to defend their faith, infringing on the principle of separation of church and state. The proposed shift in policy was prompted by two things: a failed Virginia House bill that would have studied the status of religious exemptions and a growing public awareness of the desire for homeschool reform among the homeschooled alumni community. Read more
Last fall I had a conversation with an industry professional in LA about the anticipated release of 12 Years a Slave, and he commented that he thought Christian audiences wouldn’t be into the film because it had a negative portrayal of a man of faith. He thought that Christians wouldn’t go see the movie. I laughed and told him that Hollywood’s assumptions about what Christian audiences would like are often really off-base, because many Christians will accept and engage elements in films that, at face value, might seem offensive to them if it’s simply presented well. A lot of Christians get stuck on the issue of Message vs. Art when it comes to film, and you’ll find a lot of discussions happening when any controversial film is released. Christians find themselves conflicted because they enjoyed the viewing experience but didn’t agree with the message or presentation of something or another in the course of the story. There’s a new film coming out (currently being promoted on Indiegogo for distribution and marketing funding) which has a very overt message of Christianity-is-an-accepting-religion and a positive portrayal of a black gay character (who runs a local homeless shelter). Read more
A chronic and systemic issue in the more conservative Christian community is a degree of insensitivity toward sexual abuse victims. Purity culture and abstinence teachings often result in shaming of the victim, rushing post-traumatic processing and recovery, and flippancy about the responsibility of the perpetrator for the abuse. Bob Jones University, a hyper-conservative private Christian college in Greenville, South Carolina with about 3,000 students, has been under some scrutiny over the past few years over swirling reports of mishandling of sexual abuse cases and victim-blaming. In November of 2012, BJU voluntarily hired GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to investigate and report on their handling of cases of sexual assault, after a protest by alumni. Partway through the investigative process, BJU fired GRACE abruptly, but eventually rehired and renegotiated the relationship before continuing on with the investigation. Yesterday, the final report went public. Read more