A writer defends traditional notions of masculinity and femininity.
Drawing on her experiences in “55 years of married life” and her devotion to her Roman Catholic upbringing, debut author O’Dair implores readers to turn back to the “nostalgic days of the 1950s” and reject post-’60s feminism and the sexual revolution. In almost 400 pages, with mostly anecdotal evidence and personal reflections, the author provides traditional Catholic takes on marriage, abortion, gay sexuality, and birth control. At the crux of her argument is the belief that “modern feminism has continued to bring division between men and women” rather than recognizing the innate yet complementary differences. Whereas “a man’s responsibilities are intended to evoke a no-nonsense approach to life” that provides safety and stability for their home, women serve as caretakers and nurturers. To the author, the sexual revolution allowed men to eschew the responsibilities of fatherhood and the virtues of chastity. Other sections of the book outline what she sees as the immorality of abortion, describe the “foolishness” of “the transsexual movement,” and rail against “the LGBTQ segment of society” that “abases and ridicules the human body and our basic human…identities as male and female.” Though the author mostly repeats well-worn talking points of social and religious conservatives, the book is at its best in the rare moments when O’Dair discusses her own personal struggles with reconciling Catholic teachings on birth control with the complexities of her own family dynamics. But such introspections are few and far between in an otherwise rambling and repetitive work whose length could have been shortened by half without losing anything of substance. Most glaring is the author’s insistence on her own unflappable moral code and inspiration from the Holy Spirit. She refuses to engage with modern scholarship on gender constructs, with feminist theologians, or even with more nuanced stances on gender and sexuality taken by the Catholic Church itself. Her rudimentary dismissal of feminism and her absolutist morality that leaves no room for debate will win few converts.
A meandering, lengthy, and conservative argument for traditional gender norms and sexuality.