#paganvalues Feminism

This entry is part 20 of 27 in the series Pagan Values Month

Not all Pagans practice feminism. Some are distinctly opposed to it. I am not one of those people. I think feminism is very necessary to this day, and it is a value that has informed my religious decisions over the years. I do not go into graphic details, but it’s hard to tell what’s triggering for abuse survivors, so this is behind a heavier than usual cut.

I want to note here that whenever I mention feminism, men who are a bit wobbly in the practice of seeing and treating women like human beings rather than like bags of hormones solely for breeding do the following:

A)Try to insist that “men have problems/are victims of (sexual abuse, discrimination, etc.) too.” Especially white men, but men of all flags  ((by which I include orientation, nationality … pretty much all the stuff that gets a flag)) have pulled this crap with me.

This is a form of bullying by making yourself out to be a victim. This may or may not also be an unfortunate byproduct of watching Fox News, or your mother doing an exceptionally poor job with you.

B)Remind me that there are “many types of feminism.” Women who identify as feminists, even feminists with views radically different than mine, never feel a need to do this with me.

I can only assume that the idea that there are many types of feminism is supposed to confuse my pretty little female mind into silence. Seriously, mansplaining feminism – it happens a lot. It’s also a silencing maneuver. ((As is telling someone they’re using a silencing maneuver. The silencing maneuver is tricky because sometimes it’s legitimate, and sometimes it’s bully disguised as victim again. Sometimes not giving voice, such as not publishing blog comments that are not analysis/opening of perspective but are instead screeds, is legitimate, and sometimes it’s just not tolerating disagreement. I don’t think this happens that often to me, but I do run through a self-check list when I publish comments here to ensure being fair to the other person and to myself.))

C)Hang their heads and do the “I”m a guy, I don’t have a right to talk,” which is again a method of overtaking the conversation by making himself out to be a victim.

These behaviors will not be tolerated here. Nor will misogyny. Misognyny is any act or speech of hatred towards women: chronic examples range from jokes about rape to the actual act, making generalizations about the entire gender based on the actions of one person and the insistence that female bodies in any way guarantee certain personality qualities. That women have been brainwashed into certain behaviors, like going to the bathroom in groups, is culturally learned. There’s no vaginal programming, and to suggest that women in general are less in control of themselves than men is completely insulting, dehumanizing…and untrue.

Here is where people bring up examples of individuals who are very much not in control of themselves. Individuals do not an entire gender make, so maybe treating every woman you meet like an individual who may or may not have the experiences of every other woman might be a good start.

Whether male or female, if you can speak to me as though I’m a person and not a pair of boobs waiting to be milked, we’ll do OK.

Since my other posts have been long, and feminism is a lifetime discussion, I’m going to give a sort of outline of my beliefs about it. They are of course going to be quite distinct from other forms of feminism; I for one do not have any issues to work out with the religious establishment because I never believed “God said so,” when someone tried to argue about the role of woman as submissive.

My feminism:

I. Rape is bad. That is my only moral absolute. Even murder has more of a grey area to me than rape.

Mike is outraged that I label this feminist. “It should be a given!” Yes, it should be. I’ve noticed in the past ten years that rape culture has reared its ugly head as women started backing off from feminism because it “wasn’t sexy.” Girls, now women my age, assigned so much status to pleasing men instead of creating relationships of respect as equals, that now we have what is called by some a “rape culture.” While it’s not new, it’s taken on some new angles. Even worse, so many women my age are still overcoming trauma from sexual assault that their attempts at “man-pleasing” during the young and stupid years has robbed them of a quality sex life. Rape is also not about sex, but about power – so why are so many people counting a girl’s first rape as her “first sexual experience?” ((Yes, I know it gets murkier when pregnancy, etc. results.))  It may have had sexual results, but sexuality and sexual development begins only at the point of consent.

II. Consensual sex is awesome. Good, quality, sober sex with a partner that’s got nothing to prove and everything to enjoy is the best thing in the freaking world. Sluts do not exist in my mind. People of poor character, who do not respect the relationship contracts of others, do. But racking up the partners from a conscious and happy place is something I rather admire. It’s just too bad so few women have sex from a place of “conscious and happy.”

III. Submission is stupid, dangerous and will rob you of important experiences. This applies solely to outside the bedroom. Even vanilla sex play these days has a D/S element to it. Whether dating or in marriage, it’s a bad idea to be submissive. A good partnership that lasts should have equilibrium, where power swings evenly between partners based on what strengths are needed for situations as they come.

IV. People lie to women about who they are, by telling those women who they are not, all the time. Discerning between manipulative bullshit and “hey, that might be a thing,” takes practice, cynicism, and a willingness to pull back the curtain and shout obscenities at the Man Behind the Curtain.

Most of my feminism comes from a certain resistance to gender restriction. Women and men have physical differences, absolutely. But the idea that women are somehow more “nurturing, caring and connective,” is sure as hell not what I experienced in a house with two women growing up. Nor have I found men that embody personality traits of “traditional masculinity” more attractive – in fact, I find them repulsive.

I believe, and base my interactions with people on the belief, that most non-physical gender “traits” are socially learned behaviors. I refuse to engage in any kind of “us girls,” or “boys will be boys,” mentality, because it creates an unnecessary divide, and men as well as women are often excluded from being held accountable for socially unacceptable behavior by essentially blaming their genitals. A penis does not automatically make every man abusive and destructive; a vagina and a monthly cycle does not make every woman a tear-soaked martyr. It is not “butch” to fix cars, plunge toilets or spackle. It is not “girlie” to sew, change the window treatments or cook. These are skills that rely on something other than our genital and hormonal makeup – and once we stop labeling them with gender, we’ll all enjoy ourselves a lot more.

Thus is my very abbreviated overview of feminism and gender politics as I practice them.

 

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