There was recently a large conversation regarding people being turned away from rituals at Pantheacon due to gender. As a man who was ineligible for 3 different women only rituals, my only complaint was the lack of clarity regarding requisites for attendance.
I intuited that the specific ritual Thorn mentioned in Duality and Diversity: Gender at Pantheacon was women only. You rarely see AMAZONS hold a Skyclad, “ecstatic, undulating, life-affirming ritual in honor of Lilith”… and assume that men are invited. On top of actual theological reasons, there’s an assumption that some men will distract focus from the ritual’s primal purpose through excessively intense appreciation of our female ritual partners. Ironically, whether that assumption would hold true or not, the very worry about it by female participants could have the same effect. Thus exclusion is an intelligent choice.
However, later that night there was a non-skyclad ritual to Hecate that in no way implied that Men were unwelcome… and I was turned away at the door. My complaint? Not that I was unwelcome, but that I DIDN’T KNOW that I was unwelcome.
Inclusiveness and “An it Harm none” are great guideline, but sometimes you have to weight benefits against costs. Sometimes exclusion is necessary to help define ourselves and provide a safe space for work we need to accomplish.
As children most of us learn that not everybody can be on a sports team. Some people will need to be turned away. If we are healthy, we learn to differentiate the denial of participation from a denial of personal value.
For that reason, I support exclusive rituals and works which focus on excluding from love rather than loathing. As long as exclusion is from love and with good purpose, those who can take part receive full benefit while those who can’t, can support others from a distance without feeling “put down” due to a denial.
You are not in the “simple,” well defined boxes straight men and women find ourselves. Many social structures don’t have the ability to define where you fit in. Sometimes you won’t agree with how the person in charge defines you… and that is THEIR problem. Sure their problem inconveniences you, thus you can and should fight to be recognized consciously and fairly, but please separate the hurt of others not recognizing you in the manner you wish, from the drive to challenge and help restructure our understandings of sexuality and gender.
You are a powerful and whole person who fits into our society exactly as you should. Unfortunately, sometimes that fit puts stress on yourself and others. Congratulations and respect for choosing to manifest into a position where you will teach so much, to so many, by your very existence…
As for the rest of us? We need to remember that while it’s fun to celebrate sharing things, part of why it’s fun is because we have so many differences. Sometimes it is powerful to come together, and sometimes it is powerful to define boundaries. Neither is functionally superior and both have their place. Tolerance is not universalism, it is the ability to celebrate what we share AND what differentiates us.
Sometimes that celebration requires exclusion.