On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good
A groundbreaking exploration of the ancient rules women unwittingly follow in order to be considered “good,” revealing how the Seven Deadly Sins still control and distort our lives and illuminating a path toward a more balanced, spiritually complete way to live
Why do women equate self-denial with being good?
We congratulate ourselves when we resist the donut in the office breakroom. We celebrate our restraint when we hold back from sending an email in anger. We feel virtuous when we wake up at dawn to get a jump on the day. We put others’ needs ahead of our own and believe this makes us exemplary. In On Our Best Behavior, journalist Elise Loehnen explains that these impulses—often lauded as unselfish, distinctly feminine instincts—are actually ingrained in us by a culture that reaps the benefits, via an extraordinarily effective collection of mores known as the Seven Deadly Sins.
Since being codified by the Christian church in the fourth century, the Seven Deadly Sins—pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth—have exerted insidious power. Even today, in our largely secular, patriarchal society, they continue to circumscribe women’s behavior. For example, seeing sloth as sinful leads women to deny themselves rest; a fear of gluttony drives them to ignore their appetites; and an aversion to greed prevents them from negotiating for themselves and contributes to the 55 percent gender wealth gap.
In On Our Best Behavior, Loehnen reveals how we’ve been programmed to obey the rules represented by these sins and how doing so qualifies us as “good.” This probing analysis of contemporary culture and thoroughly researched history explains how women have internalized the patriarchy, and how they unwittingly reinforce it. By sharing her own story and the spiritual wisdom of other traditions, Loehnen shows how we can break free and discover the integrity and wholeness we seek.
Praise for On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good
“What if women finally found freedom—because we gave it to ourselves? Elise Loehnen brilliantly reframes our toxic cultural programming and helps us to see that what we thought were our sins are actually our greatest virtues. This book is the gift we have all been waiting for.”—Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
“A stunning, big, and bold encyclopedia of how to live—the first post-pandemic book to take our latest measurements and provide something fresh to comfort, embolden, enlighten, and enrich who we are today . . . On Our Best Behavior is nothing short of a tangible necessity in our new intangible world.”—Lisa Taddeo, New York Times bestselling author of Three Women
“A raw cri de coeur, penetrating social analysis, and revealing personal reflection . . . Elise Loehnen deftly deconstructs one of the central ideological buttresses of patriarchal society: the shaming of women for having human desires, strengths, capacities, and strivings of body, mind, and soul. Doing so, she provides a guide to liberation and a return to the authentic feminine self.”—Gabor Maté, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The Myth of Normal
“With equal parts wit, wisdom, erudition, and warmth, Elise Loehnen guides us on a journey through history, culture, and our own psychologies to not just investigate the limiting effects of patriarchal thinking in women’s lives but to free them. Loehnen is half historical docent, half big sister with a hot cup of tea. Read this author and change your life.”—Terrence Real, New York Times bestselling author of Us