Looking back on June, the month has taken on a meaning different from decades past. When I was a child, June meant no more than the end of school and the start of the holidays. Baseball season was well underway, swimming pools were open, and the oppressive heat of late summer had not yet arrived. June was a peaceful, perfect month.
Now, however, the month of June hosts and represents some of the most intractable and contentious debates in our society about the meaning, purpose, and use of the body. For many, June is a celebration of Pride, and June 26th is the anniversary of Obergefell, the Supreme Court decision establish Same Sex Marriage as the law of the land. Late June is also the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a milestone in the history of the normalization of homosexuality in the United States.
June also brings the anniversary of the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade—again, a debate about bodies and which human bodies have status before the law, which is also a debate about women’s bodies and their reproductive capacities.
The abuse of black bodies, the history of enslavement, and the ending of slavery is recalled on Juneteenth, a commemoration now held much more widely than just a few years ago.
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Rather than sandlot games and diving contests, June is, for us, a month of contested visions about the body, about sex, gender, race, birth, and death. Perhaps the poet was wrong in declaring April the cruelest month—perhaps that title should go to June.
At Public Discourse, we intend to play the role of moderation and calm. We engage in sober reflection and argument on these serious and contentious issues—but always in a spirit of calm, intelligent reason—never cruelty. However contentious the issue, however much is at stake, we begin and end with a profound regard for the human person, even those with whom we disagree, and even on subjects we cannot ignore. Our offerings this past month represent this commitment very well.
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On the question of feminism, we published essays from two leading scholars arguing that we cannot properly understand the issues if we ignore or overlook our embodiment. Abigail Favale’s “A Feminism Embedded in Human Nature” and Erika Bachiochi’s “The Virtues of Mary Wollstonecraft” are well worth a read.
The Lincoln scholar Allen C. Guelzo explored the history behind Juneteenth, while Angel Adams Parham considered the complex relationship between Juneteenth and July 4th, two days of great importance to the American experiment.
Charles C. Camosy explored the phenomenon of post-Christian support for killing the poor and disabled, while Mark Regnerus suggested a link between the logic of Roe and the surge of young people identifying as LGBTQ. If we misunderstand the body, we will discard the vulnerable and become confused about our sexual identity, and many, many of our fellow citizens are confused on these topics.
Our society is confused about parenting, manhood, masculinity, and fatherhood as well. Nathanael Blake used the Feast Day of St. John the Baptist to reflect on the goodness of marriage. Luis Parrales reviewed Richard Reeve’s book Of Boys and Men, and Jamie Boulding considered the peace and joy of parenting, against the common bemoaning of its difficulty and challenge.
From Our Archives
Dobbs is not merely an anniversary, but an opportunity for rejoicing and gratitude. Our archives include some wonderful resources for this. Please see Michael Stokes Paulsen on “The Magnificence of Dobbs,” Robert P. George’s remembrance of pro-life heroes, and Alexandra DeSanctis reminding us that a national strategy is still a necessity. Much more work remains.
What We’re Reading around the Web
- Rita Koganzon, “The Age of Adolescence: Judy Blume and the eternal young adult,” The Point
- Abigail Shrier, “Little Miss Trouble,” New York Times
- Avi Shafran, “Trans and Torah,” The Times of Israel
- Erika Bachiochi, “The Justice Mothers Are Due,” Plough
- Johnathan O’Neill, “The Conservative Encounter With Leviathan,” Law & Liberty
- Mark David Hall, “Europe’s Post-Religious Right,” Law & Liberty
In June, we held two webinars on Fidelity Month. The first was “A Call to Fidelity” with an impressive lineup: Robert P. George, Lila Rose, Ana Samuel, Andrew Walker, Bill McClay, Jacqueline C. Rivers, Yuval Levin, James Matthew Wilson.
The second was “Fidelity’s Future,” moderated by Elayne Allen in conversation with bright young people who value and uphold fidelity in their lives and work.
If you missed them, you can watch the recordings here.
R. J. Snell
Editor-in-Chief, Public Discourse