Gender Forums from Reclaiming Quarterly

Undoing Sexism - by Lynx Adamah

What Men Can Do About Sexism - by Lynx Adamah

Gender & Sexism: A Forum - with Donald, Keith, Melissa, Phillipe, Rose, Seed, and Jonathan

What If the Earth Is Not Our Mother? - by Keith, Kirk, Rachel, Jack, and Ravyn

from RQ 96

(jump to RQ 101 Gender Forum)

In the following pages from issue #96, RQ gathers a range of views on sexism and gender relations — not just in the broader society, but as they operate in progressive communities such as Reclaiming, where the nuances are often more subtle. 

 

Undoing Sexism

 

Gender dynamics in Reclaiming and other progressive communities

by Lynx Adamah

There is a commonly held belief that sexism, as well as other “isms” like racism and homophobia, don’t exist in progressive communities. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true.

 

While most of us are liberal, open-minded, and well-intentioned folks, the reality is that we all have some work to do freeing ourselves from old, deeply rooted beliefs and feelings towards other groups of people, be they people of color, women, queer and/or trans folks, Jews, etc. It would be nearly impossible for us as individuals raised in this very oppressive and dehumanizing culture to not have recorded at least some of these messages, somewhere within us.

 

While it’s not our fault that we struggle with such messages, it is each individual’s responsibility to take on the work of eliminating oppressive behavior and transforming the beliefs. To effectively move forward in our struggle as humans to end all oppressions, it is crucial that we be willing to name these oppressions and speak openly and honestly about them. It is from this place that I address sexism in our community.
 

What is sexism?

 

Sexism is any mistreatment of women, ranging from violence against women, to the treatment of women as inferior, to the objectification of women. Any time a woman is treated in any way other than as a brilliant, powerful, respected human being, it is sexism.

 

When women do not stand up for themselves, tolerate abusive behavior from men, mistreat other women, or deny their own intelligence, internalized sexism is occurring. After being systematically bombarded with sexist misinformation, many women internalize these messages, start believing them, and act out of this hurt place. Though women in our community have done much empowerment and healing work here, we still have more to do, myself included. The more women free themselves from internalized sexism, the less power and impact men’s sexism directed at us will have.

 

Thankfully, in our community, most forms of overt sexism are not present — violence against women, sexist language, sexual coercion, male domination. So many men in our community are incredibly loving, kind, open-hearted, generous, strong and gentle, compassionate, caring, expressive — beautiful models of what is possible. These men have clearly done some work around sexism, and have consciously chosen to be part of a community where women are valued, respected, and empowered leaders; worlds away from the current sexist model of our dominant culture. This is a huge step, and has been incredibly inspiring and hopeful to me. The deep, loving, and strictly platonic relationships I’ve developed with men in our community have been some of the sweetest relationships of my life. They have fed me deeply, been huge contradictions to sexism for me, and in many ways, have given me the strength and inspiration to continue on in the struggle for women’s liberation. These nurturing relationships have left me hopeful that not only will sexism end in my lifetime, but that many men actually want it to end and are willing to be allies to women in ending it.

 

While many men in Reclaiming have come a long way, there is still work to do. Even within Reclaiming, sexism still exists. While we are rarely faced with men perpetrating overt forms of sexism — though this does occasionally happen —- sexism in its more subtle forms is actually a fairly common occurrence.

 

Subtle Sexism

 

Some of the subtle forms that sexism can take include:

 

  • men yelling at women

  • interrupting women

  • not listening to women or taking women seriously

  • making women repeat “no”

  • men always speaking first and/or for the longest amount of time

  • confusing closeness and sex

  • men pursuing connection with only the young, attractive women in our community or placing a higher value on connections with them

  • not fully supporting women on our path to empowerment because it feels threatening to men

  • repeatedly hitting on women who are half the men’s age

  • always being the aggressor or initiator of sexual relationships.

 

Even though these forms of sexism are not life-threatening, they are still damaging to women. They get in the way of women having big, full and empowered lives. They affect our self-respect and confidence, and lead us to make choices around relationships, our bodies, and sex that we may not otherwise have made. All forms of sexism are to be taken seriously and actively campaigned against. To ignore subtle sexism is to give up on women’s liberation.

 

That some men in our community still act out these sexist patterns at women doesn’t mean that our community is bad, nor does it mean that such men are bad or even to blame. As I stated previously, it would be unrealistic for us to expect that men, having grown up in such a pervasively sexist culture, would make it through unscathed and not carry with them a piece of the patriarchy, no matter how unknowingly or unwillingly. While this is not men’s fault, especially the subtle stuff, it is key that men take responsibility for their sexist behavior and for releasing the patterns and unlearning sexism. I truly believe that no human being wants to behave oppressively towards another human, and this certainly includes men and sexism. But patterns won’t just go away by themselves. They need to be actively worked on and transformed.

 

I am writing this article not only to shed light on sexism in our community, but largely to get the dialogue started around sexism. I want to hear people talking about this stuff, and not shying away from getting involved or making this struggle their own. 

 

Settling for Less

 

There is a way in progressive communities that we “settle,” both as women and as men. We’re so grateful that we’re not subjected to overt forms of sexism, and that men here are more loving and open-hearted than the general population. We’ve stopped going after more for ourselves and from our men. We don’t really talk about sexism. We let a lot of “undesirable” behavior go.

 

We need to talk about sexism. If we as a community and as individuals desire to grow, heal, and become truly empowered, it is crucial that we be willing to address a real and disempowering inequity among us.

 

We’re not doing our beloved brothers any favors by not challenging them on their sexism. By naming and calling them on it, we give them a chance to identify an oppressive pattern, to work on it, and truly transform it. By ignoring it, we leave them stuck with a harmful pattern that serves only to diminish their humanity and their chances for real human connection. No man truly wants to be oppressive. When women are complacent around sexism, settling and putting up with it, we end up only perpetuating our own oppression. The reality is that sexism affects all of us.

 

As a planet, a country, a culture and a community, no one is truly free while anyone else is oppressed. Ending sexism is everyone’s business and will free us all.

What Men Can Do About Sexism

 

  • The most important thing that men can do is listen. Listen to us as women, and if we challenge you on something, be willing to look and see what’s there for you.

  • Be proud to be men! It is far more empowering to have you as proud male allies willing to take on sexism, than for you to feel bad about yourselves as men or apologetic to us for being male.

  • Read Men’s Work by Paul Kivel.

  • Join a men’s group to connect with other men and safely work on anger and any patterned feelings towards women you may have.

  • Get involved in co-counseling, an organization committed to ending all oppressions. Go to www.rc.org

  • Check out the resource lists included in this issue.

  • Know that I welcome you as allies!

 

Lynx Adamah is a fierce co-counseling crusader for women’s liberation. 

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from RQ 96 (Winter 2005)

Gender and Sexism: a Forum

 

A roundtable discussion of teachers and organizers

 

As part of our Gender and Sexism theme section in RQ #96 (Winter 2005), RQ asked a half-dozen teachers and organizers in our various communities to contribute their views on five key questions. A sampling of their responses is found on these two pages.

Forum Participants

Donald Engstrom is a Minnesota artist, gardener, and Witch involved with Mystery and the Spirit Peoples for over twenty years. His roots spring from Queer Spirit.

Keith Hennessy is a performance artist, dancer, Witchpriest, anti-war activist and director of Circo Zero.

Melissa Moon is a a pre-op MTF transexual, lesbian, activist, Reclaiming Witch and Vermont Witchcamp devotee who lives in north central Vermont.

Phillipe Lewis is a perspective shifter, sensual artist, and community builder based in San Francisco.

Rose May Dance, a San Francisco hypnotherapist and healer, has been teaching, writing, and making ritual in Reclaiming since 1981.

Seed is a Reclaiming priestess and teacher, who finds herself called to depth and mischief.

Jonathan Furst is a free-range magical Jew, currently practicing uncle and auntie skills in the wilds of Northern California.

 

How does sexism show itself, overtly and subtly, in our community?

Keith: Sexism operates like a disease. No one in Reclaiming, even the youth who grew up in our community, are free of sexist conditioning, imagination, and practice — shame about one’s body, alienation from the earth, sexual fantasies and pleasures. This is not entirely negative. For some folks, experiencing sexism in Reclaiming is a gateway to healing.

Melissa: Sexism shows itself in the predominant heterosexist paradigm evident in most of the myths chosen as Witchcamp themes. We need to create or find more queer positive or queer inclusive myths.

Jonathan: We often repeat stereotypes in our rituals, such as when the men drum and the women dance. Or when it’s assumed we’ll call in the god and the goddess. Are we redefining male and female divinity or institutionalizing gender roles? What about the Queer ones, the Great Mystery, the Stone beings without gender at all...

Philippe: Overtly, I see it so little in this community compared to other communities. Subtly, I see it showing up in people’s perception that something is or might be sexist when it really was not intended that way consciously or unconsciously by anyone involved.

Donald: Frankly, in many ways. The most striking is the way folks who identify as women dishonor each other and each other’s work. They seem to often give folks perceived as male more breaks than folks they perceive as female. And those of us who are third-gendered are just simply invisible.

Rose: During Spiral Dance planning meetings we always noticed when men were present or absent. We got things done quicker with no men, yet there was a dynamism and charge when the men were present. This is neither good nor bad, but something to note, so we can be conscious of our interactions.

How, concretely, do we interrupt and transform sexism?

Keith: Central to reclaiming goddess spirituality is a rejection and/or transformation of masculine-centric spirituality, culture, and politics. In Reclaiming the majority of the leadership (elders, teachers, and organizers) and the community are women. Gender queers and outlaws have been welcomed in Reclaiming community and imagination, furthering the reframing of oppressive cultural norms with respect to gender and sexuality. Many in Reclaiming celebrate empowered sexual pleasure for all beings, especially for women who have been denied, abused, or limited by patriarchal and dick-centric pleasure principles.

Rose: There’s a song that goes, “I am breathing, I am open, I am willing.” An attitude that is both questioning and loving is essential, or else the battle takes up again!

Donald: I have experienced some direct constructive talk. But in my experience, a passive-aggressive response or the old-fashioned rumor mill are the usual reactions to what may be sexist behavior.

Philippe: By being in loving, open support of a shift in understanding and acceptance of all perspectives, and especially of how sexism has a negative impact on everyone. In practice, by listening, not judging, and sharing about sexism when it shows up in our perception or in conversation.

Jonathan: Speaking order is a great tool for de-institutionalizing lots of “isms”: let people born outside the country talk or choose first, then people of color, queer identified, youth, elders, working class, etc. Within each category, women precede men, and trans-gendered before either.

What is men’s role in Reclaiming?

 

Rose: I appreciate when men are aware of the historical importance of “women’s religion” — a place for women to shine and take leadership roles. How great there is a place like Reclaiming for men to share with women. There is a place in Reclaiming for men to be both supportive and expressive.

Philippe: As individuals, it is whatever role that they feel safe, comfortable, and open in taking. For that to be possible, there must be space for them to do it, in terms of positive ways of being for men both towards each other and towards women in the community.

Jonathan: My first year in Reclaiming, I spent a lot of time wondering where I fit in. It would be nice to simply say “men and women are equal,” but the truth is that men hold a lot more power in the world, and we carry it with us wherever we go. We need to carry it well, learning when to step back and make room for others, when to step up and speak out.

Keith: Men’s role in Reclaiming is to practice a feminist and queer-inspired transformation of male identity, body, and imagination; to innovate and experiment with masculinity; and to integrate a re-claimed femininity into a whole self that is more creative, more sexually mature and alive, more intuitive and intelligent, more connected to the web of life and death.

Donald: I was not aware that men’s roles were any different than anyone else’s. I thought all genders were actively working to find their own authentic roles within the tradition.

How does your concept of your own gender affect your spiritual work and connections in your community?

 

Donald: In the classes I teach, gender is a central topic. I assign a bit of homework in which each person recognizes and declares their own gender without using either male or female identifiers.

Rose: I came to Reclaiming because it was a perfect place for my ministry and my spiritual expression, because it is founded in the reverence for Goddess. In Reclaiming, unlike in the Episcopalian Church, I feel totally accepted and valued in my spirituality.

Melissa: My gender is a major part of my spiritual work. As a pre-operative transexual lesbian Reclaiming Witch my very being challenges others to think about their gender, and it bonds me with my community of choice — a community that celebrates my uniqueness.

 

Seed: As a woman entering her crone years, it is such a huge relief to be in a community that values the wisdom of older women. Every day, I am confronted with the attitudes of our society, in which older women tend to be discounted at best, and disrespected at worst. Having just one context in my life which holds an alternative view is such an antidote.

 

Keith: Claiming a male identity and celebrating a gay/queer sexuality have a big role in my experience of the divine. Ritual with men and gay sexual healing have been laboratories for magic and prayer, and for rediscovering art and activism as prayer. Reframing the mature man as Earth steward, as queer uncle and father to the world’s children, and as sensitive artist and healer, is integral to the process of my spirituality, including my participation in Reclaiming.

Philippe: Because of the prevalence of sexism in our society and how it affects us deeply, I think that it tends to affect us more negatively — or perhaps gets in the way — than when we take a more genderless approach to the spiritual work. But I do see how my concept of gender can be used in an empowering way while empowering others too!

Any last thoughts?

Philippe: What does a community beyond sexism look like?

Rose: Reclaiming should return to more fostering of separate womens’ and mens’ mysteries, to enrich what happens when we make ritual all together.

Donald: It has often been tough being a third-gendered person in Reclaiming. We are still stuck in a bi-gender worldview. When there are only two choices, many gender queers can never find a place to sit down no matter how many chairs are at the table. May we dare to embrace the ever-growing, fluid nature of the multiverse and all of Mystery.

Melissa: I am a pre-operative Transexual Lesbian Reclaiming Witch. The unconditional love and acceptance I have received at Vermont Witchcamp has healed me into wholeness. Whereas the pull towards surgery and “gender conformity” is great, VWC is a place where I can embody “living between the worlds” and feel completely safe.

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from RQ 101 (Mid-2010)

What if the Earth is NOT Our Mother?

 

The following conversation begins with a provocation from Keith Hennessy and is followed by responses from Kirk Read, Rachel Kaplan, Jack Davis, and Ravyn Stanfield. 

 

The goal of this polyvocal text is not to resolve an issue or come to consensus but to create some queer friction or turbulence that might yield fresh intelligence and ritual experimentation.

 

A Provocation


by Keith Hennessy


I want to trouble the relationship between gender and deity. 


I was raised Catholic, taught to call my dad, all priests, and God, “Father.” Feminists and other critics of monotheistic and patriarchal religions have challenged this triple conflation. 

 

Through these critiques I learned to recognize the structural network of home, society, and universe as a series of male-dominated “families.” The one God becomes the ultimate head of global household. He might be a loving father or a stern father, but he’s our daddy. We accept as normal a vast network of psychological and political dynamics held in patriarchal place by the language, metaphor, and icon of Father.

 

In the Bay Area during the mid- to late-1980s, I was part of a vibrant culture created by anarchists, feminists, direct action activists, collective houses, worker-owned businesses, politically engaged artists, and hybrids thereof. Among the many influences and participants in this network were people who identified as feminist Witches, or simply Pagans. Many of these activist Witches gathered within and around the collective called Reclaiming. We reclaimed deity as feminine and feminine as sacred, and we brought ritual performance to all spheres of political action, creative work, and daily life. A new world felt not only possible but actual. And this new world, following the beliefs of both Native Americans* and (neo) Pagans, would be called Mother. 

 

As an assertive response to 2000 years of Father God, today’s Pagans claim a much longer history, however hidden or marginalized, of goddesses, Earth Mothers, and Mother Earth. But this feminist move, dependent on essentialist tropes of mothers and fathers, can never fully reverse or topple a gendered hierarchy that is structurally enforced. 

 

What happens when we anthropomorphize the Earth, when we give it human names and social roles? How does it serve either a Pagan or ecological project to assign a gender and a social role to the Earth? What do we gain and what do we lose when we refer to the Earth as Mother? How are we influenced in terms of perspective, experience, wisdom, ambitions, or motivations? Is it possible to experience the Earth as alive without linking it to our own perceptions and politics of mortality? Maybe s/he is neither alive nor dead, neither great provider nor great destroyer. Clearly, the Earth and the human are not separate events. Might we consider new language (or less language) to frame ecological and Pagan perspectives and action? 

 

I grew up reciting a prayer, which begins:

 
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name.”


In my late 20s, already having identified as both an ex-Catholic and a recovering Catholic, I heard a version that is allegedly a closer translation of the original Aramaic text (the language of the historical Jesus): 

 

“Dear you, from whom all light and sound vibrations emanate.” 


I was changed forever with the potential of this revelation, despite the fact that its mystic inclinations are considered by conservative Christians to be more conjecture than translation. Replacing “father” with the source of sound and light vibration destabilizes the conflicts between science and religion, between mono and poly, and supports my conviction that neither god nor Earth is best considered in gendered human terms.

 

Twenty years of developing the tools of queer and feminism for inspired analysis and action have prompted me to challenge Pagan friends and networks. How can we say mother without invoking “father”? In the myth/story of Mary and Jesus, the virgin birth is a non-consensual fertilization by the Holy Spirit, a proxy of God the Father. Are we silently calling an all-powerful father god every time we call Mother Earth? Feminist and queer perspectives remind us of the hegemonic damage of continually reasserting the heterosexual nuclear family as a universal norm. Mother plus father does not have to be the only frame for creativity, life, law, generation, or genius.

 

There can be significant patriarchal disruptions and spiritual inspirations when calling the Earth a mother. But the ambivalent subtexts, both heterosexist and human-centered, suggest that we reconsider. What if the Earth is not y/our mother? 

The Earth is a Communal Orgy


by Kirk Read


I get queasy with the girl and boyification of nature in general. The insistence on Mother Earth and Father Sky and the way water is always equated with wombs and menstruation. Enough with the Pagan clichés already! I’ve been reading a lot about plants lately. And earthworms. Socially constructed notions of masculinity and femininity don’t make sense in a compost heap. I mean, we can call them male and female plants, but they’re nothing without bees. And where do bees fit into the binary gender map? Gender is best left to humans checking boxes on match.com. I’m worried when my transgender friends recreate the worst imaginable cartoon archetypes of gender, as well as lesbian friends getting super-entrenched in pop culture and fashion. Gay men have been on a hypermasculine trip for a long time, which is intimidating to me even though I fall under its spell pretty easily. What I’m trying to say is that people often identified as gender pioneers are huffing the same gnarly fumes of gender stereotypes as everyone else. I don’t think the answer is to dig ourselves further into the gender ditch by referring to trees with alternative pronouns like zie and hir. Sometimes a tree is just a tree. Not to get all Gertrude Stein on you.

 

I resist Goddess language and gendered language because it transfers gender maps as understood by humans upon an Earth that is far more complicated than we’re collectively able to imagine. This language turns the Earth into a nuclear family, with a mom and dad and babies. And the Earth is not at all a nuclear family. The Earth is a big communal orgy of vines growing out of dead bodies on top of poop, then getting inoculated by some floating spore carried in the fur of a squirrel.

Gender is a Story


by Rachel Kaplan


As I sit to write, the wind is whipping through the green trees outside, another storm heading from the sea to me. It has been a wild winter and the wonder of water continues... do I need or want to think of this gift of life-bringing rain as female? No, I do not. Do I need to think of the destruction taking place everywhere, everyday, of the Earth and its inhabitants, as male? No I do not. But is it simpler by far to rest in the “hegemonic structuralism of gender”? Yes, it is. Does it serve us in recreating the world? I am not sure, but I am not sure either that I have another way. As a permaculturist, I am trained to look at the natural systems around me and to use them as a template for action. I cannot help but notice the gendered reality that pervades the natural world. These differences are unstoried in the natural world in a way that is never true for the human world. Perhaps it is the story that is the problem (which is what gender is after all), rather than the reality of the biological difference between us. But if it is true that biological differences — which we call gender — are part of the natural world, and our dis-ease in culture comes from separating ourselves radically from the natural order of which we are a part, how else are we to understand our lives, our actions, our selves? If we could get to the place where nature is — a sense of being-ness without the story of meaning — then gender wouldn’t be an issue at all. But our differences, and what they tell us about our purpose and how to act, would still be there, inherent within us.

 

 After a stint as a radical lesbian feminist, I became active in the Bay Area artistic-anarchist-Pagan culture that Keith Hennessy describes above. But a key difference in coming from a Jewish background, rather than a Catholic or Christian one, is not in the way god was personified, but in the way people were. We were victims of culture and history, rather than the victors, making it simpler for us to identify with the oppressed, the downtrodden, the dispossessed. From there, and living in a woman’s body, it was an easy step to feminism, lesbianism, Paganism, moving ever outside the reach — or so I hoped — of god the father. Did it work? Not really. I am subject all the time to patriarchal reality, patriarchal decision-making, both internal and external. 

 

 I fight all the time with my feminist-raised boyfriend/husband who wants all things to be “equal” between us, who has somehow swallowed the fantasy that there is even such a thing as equality between men and women, or between people and one another. Biology showed us, in the form of our daughter, that there is a reason why culture evolved the way it did, and that in fact, there is a destiny inherent in our biologies. Can you imagine? It took having our daughter to realize that biology on some level is destiny. If we live in a differentiated universe because our bodies and their capacities simply do different things — even in an age where that can be modified and tricked out, as in tranny love and queer procreation — we are left with a gendered universe that dictates some of our decisions, actions and ways of being. Is our alternative as simple as telling a different story? Who tells a story outside the box in which they live? Not too many people I know.

 

 I worship the Earth as the vehicle of regeneration, the wheel of death and rebirth, the altar of reality, rather than the distorted lies of religion and people’s stories. As a permie, I witness the power of the Earth in destruction and regeneration. I dig that. Is it a female power? Maybe. I certainly identify with it in myself, as a woman. As a mother, I am living out a story of my gendered body — pro-creative, protective, maternal, fierce, nurturing... Do I see my partner living out many of these same aspects? Yes. Is it equal? No. 

 

And the beat goes on…

 

Faggot Magic

 

by Jack Davis

 

I recently co-facilitated a class in elements of magic for gay men. One of the questions we posed: What does it mean to be a gay man involved in goddess spirituality? 

 

We created invocations that were not directed to a specific deity and called upon the aspects that we desired from a queer god. Our chants embraced: 

 

copious amounts of jism… 

gentle and animal fucking… 
sweet faggot god… 

weirdo… 

your mighty cock… 

and bring it girl!


Sometimes deity is the goddess because she is not the god, the god is the colleague and not the consort of the goddess, the goddess is a man in a dress, deity has no gender, or deity is all genders. 

 

Maybe thinking of deity can be like shopping at a thrift store, picking and choosing, holding out for exactly what you want. During the class, it was revealed to us that if, as Dion Fortune says, magic is the art of changing consciousness at will, then faggot magic is the art of changing costumes at Goodwill.

Symbiosis or domination?


by Ravyn Stanfield


“The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of her.” This is a chant that I learned in my twenties through the feminist Earth-based spirituality movement. It was attributed as a traditional Native American chant. 

 

While attempting to avoid the romanticizing of indigenous cultures that white folks like to do, there can certainly be an argument made that people who lived in North America prior to European colonization placed a value on relationship with their landbase. One could further argue that most people in contemporary Western culture are several steps removed from the ways that the land provides staples for our continued survival. 

 

The Earth Mother archetype perhaps shook that up, muddied the waters, asked us to relate to our planet in a way that evoked a primary connection with nourishment. I see/saw it as an attempt to give a face to the faceless, to make the vast spaces of the planet accessible through familiarity. Perhaps it was also an attempt to offer an alternative to flesh mothers who may have failed in small or large ways to nurture us in the ways we wanted. At any rate, “we must take care of her” was a statement asserted without question, a mission/invitation/provocation. 

 

Identifying the Earth with the oppression of women in all countries, pasting genitals and gender roles on the planet, was a bold political move of its time, a strong blow in the struggle to capture the imagination of the people. We could have easily called the planet Native, African, Jewish, Irish, Queer or Muslim at various times of our collective evolution, and it would have made the same point. 

 

So has Earth Mother passed her prime, so to speak? I see ways that this archetype/identity is still useful, inviting humans to seek healthy relationship with the planet within a parasitic culture that consumes everything in sight and has nothing at all to do with functional communion. I can also see the false ways that we can glorify the “feminine” and continue to expect female-bodied people to do something magical to “save the Earth” as if living well on the planet was not the responsibility of all humans. I can see the false ways that MotherFather gods still keep humans infantile and powerless in the face of authority, as well as continuing a heterosexist reality. 

 

What is our goal in moving out of the oppressed “feminine” identity that we have politically associated with the planet? I haven’t fully uncovered the answer for myself yet, I think that releasing our oppressed identities is one of the most difficult tasks that humans can accomplish. Recognizing that we belong to a group that is stigmatized by a larger culture is vital to resistance and liberation efforts. However, when does this identification end? Is it when the group itself feels free? Is it when the tangible liberation goals of the group have been accomplished? Is it when another group points out that this group is “free enough”? This gets tricky for me because I know that for every one of us who grows beyond strict gender cages, there is a girl who survives a rape and identifies with the feminist movement for the first time. 

 

Are we free enough yet to let go of the planet as our Mother and say that the goal has been accomplished? To continue the metaphor, would it mean that we would simply move out of the house or live far away? 

 

The war on qualities that we/they assigned to the “feminine” is real, and the gender-role socialization that kills continues to unfold as soon as people get the gender results of the ultrasound. Those born with the biological bodies of boys are still told that they must separate from intimate relationship with others (and ultimately the planet) to be seen as strong. Those born with the biological bodies of girls eventually see that this ability to separate seems to be a way to success and status. Interdependence is not a consensual teaching that we offer children in Western culture.

 

For me, the question is not masculine or feminine, pussy or prick, queer or hetero, it is about whether we are living in a relationship of symbiosis or dominion with the planet. I welcome our questioning of whether or not we need the Earth Mother archetype to help us shift the reality of dominion. I also see Western civilization in active opposition to symbiosis. I wonder what will the Earth be to us instead? Our vital home or a silent lifeless rock? 

 

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