Some Comments About Feminism
Some Comments About Feminism
Just as the Goddess is beginning to re-enter the public conscousness, there are some groups who's methods of practice are causing confusion, and threatening to undermine our progress. I'm referring to those feminist Goddess groups who foster the misconception that the religion of the Goddess is for women only, or is oriented towards women specifically. There is absolutely no historical basis for any such claims.
Some of these feminist groups are very militant and hostile towards men, while others proclaim a very warm and loving philosophy, and only reveal their restrictive gender policy in the fine print. Yet no matter how this sort of discrimination may be presented, I feel that it is a serious problem within our movement, which requires some discussion.
I'm sure most people would agree that after centuries of abuse by various patriarchal entites, women do have many justifiable complaints. Certainly feminism has a great deal of social and political validity. However, we must ask ourselves if it is appropriate to combine that agenda with the revival of the religion of the Goddess, and the work that we are trying to do on Her behalf.
We must bear in mind that prior to the Kurgan invasion, Neolithic societies were believed to be very egalitarian. Patriarchy arrived later, as part of the Kurgan philosophy of violent conquest and exploitation of others. This barbaric and immoral behavior became embedded in our social and political systems, and has plagued humanity ever since.
There is nothing inherently wrong with men. Patriarchy is simply a result of psychological conditioning, whose primary purpose is to enable a corrupt ruling class to maintain it's power and justify it's self-serving criminal actions... and this overall program of psychological conditioning has many negative consequences for men as well as women. While women are reduced to domestic servants, sex toys, and baby-making machines, men are conditioned to become wage-slaves and cannon fodder. Obviously, if we are going to succeed in buliding a more peaceful and equitable society, then both men and women must recognize these problems, and work together to bring about change.
The religion of the Goddess can be very helpful in pursing that goal. It comes to us from the pre-Kurgan world, and offers many positive values on which to base our existence... including gender equality. Therefore, it seems quite suprising that a Goddess group should advocate any form of gender discrimination. In my opinion, they are really not following a healthy and correct path, and their actions very often serve to offend and alienate the general public.
There are a few other ways in which some modern Goddess groups fail to present a proper understanding of our religion. For example, there is the idea that because the Goddess is portrayed as female, She relates more directly to women than men. In truth, deity has no gender. The peaceful Neolithic Goddess cultures envisioned deity as female, while the violent barbarian warlords who later invaded most of the western world envisioned deity as male. Of course neither was correct, but it was from their definitions of deity that Goddess religion and war-god religion came to be established.
When we speak of deity as a Goddess, what we are truly embracing is the definition of deity as a peaceful and benevolent entity, as opposed to a violent and jealous one. No physical gender is actually involved, and therefore this understanding of deity should be equally appealing and acceptable to all people, whether they happen to be male or female.
Yet another problematic misconception is the idea that the physical aspects of being a woman are a "sacred experience". This often involves linking the menstrual cycle to the phases of the moon, or the idea of a Triple-Goddess , portrayed as maiden, mother, and crone.
The concept of a Triple-Goddess is a relatively recent idea, first proposed in a 1948 book entitled The White Goddess , by Robert Graves. Although the book presents many thoughtful ideas about the primordial Goddess archetype, it is a work of fiction which is not supported by any sort of genuine evidence. Similarly, there is no historical precedent for the idea that menstruation is a sacred experience. It is simply a natural biological function, common to all mammals of the female sex, and any relationship to the phases of the moon is purely coincidental.
I'm really not sure why some Goddess groups have endorsed these myths, but I feel that they only serve to distract us from a proper spiritual practice, as well as presenting unnecessary obstacles to the involvement of men in those groups.
Next, some Goddess groups have made it clear that they don't accept transgender women as members, even referring to them as "surgically altered males". This is in contrast to modern psychiatric beliefs, which tell us that a person should be regarded as being of the gender that they are psychologically and spiritually aligned with.
Furthurmore, if we examine our traditions, we find that transgender persons often served as clergy in ancient times. With the ascent of the Abrahamic religions, their popularity and talents were seen as a threat, and they were persecuted and demonized. Therefore, it seems obvious that discrimination against transgender persons is very much in opposition to our history and our spiritual wisdom.
Finally, I've heard some members of women-only Goddess groups say that they have nothing against men, but they need a place to discuss "their issues". Clearly, they are bringing some rather inappropriate expectations to a Goddess-oriented function. While I'm sure that a member of our clergy could provide them with some private counseling, they must remember that the purpose of a Goddess group is spiritual... it is not a domestic violence support group.
Those persons who have undertaken the task of forming women-only Goddess groups should ask themselves what goals they actually wish to pursue. If those goals relate to feminism and women's issues, then they need to find a suitable venue for that. On the other hand, if they wish to serve the Goddess, and bring Her message of peace and cooperation to people, then they should adopt policies which properly reflect the core beliefs of the religion... including gender equality.