On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good (Hardcover)

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On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good By Elise Loehnen Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

This book was so validating to read, because in my experience as a woman, there is a lot of pressure to be able to check off different boxes in order to accommodate societal norms. The 2000s ideological concept of women having it all is still in the air, but is not as explicitly stated. When it comes to terms of gender equality, men are not held to nearly the same standards as modern women. Loehnen's thesis explains how rules that women follow in order to be perceived as good date back to biblical times, but they're still ingrained in our culture today and upheld by the patriarchy. It is an enriching blend of personal antidotes, interviews from voices in the self-help field, history, and theology. The only issue I have with this book is the author's previous work for Goop, which she references a couple of times. It seems kind of contradictory to what she is trying to prove in the text. This book is one of the quintessential feminist works of the year. It isn't necessarily a guide on how to live as a woman, but she dissects each "moral" thoroughly, reflects on it, and states that if we're upholding these ideals for ourselves, then we are suppressing our needs that are simply part of the human condition.

— Greta Borgealt


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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.

About the Author

Elise Loehnen is the host of Pulling the Thread. She has co-written twelve books, five of which were New York Times bestsellers. She was the chief content officer of goop, and she co-hosted The goop Podcast and The goop Lab on Netflix. Previously, she was the editorial projects director of Condé Nast Traveler. Elise lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

Praise For…

“An engaging work that offers an opportunity for pause and reflection regarding our daily choices.”Kirkus Reviews

“A deep dive into my own psyche of questioning everything.”—Sara Haines, The View

“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

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593243039
ISBN-10: 059324303X
Publisher: The Dial Press
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2023
Pages: 384
Language: English