Imagining A Post-Gender World

This morning I was puttering around my kitchen, fussing with toast and coffee, listening to Fleetwood Mac. I’d read Steve Provost’s post on gender discrimination in Paganism (a response of sorts to Devin Hunter’s post on the same topic) and I was trying to decide what, if anything, I should write about it this morning. I’ve touched on the topic before and it wasn’t well received. I think I argued that women who behave in traditionally masculine ways are admired while men who behave the same way are shunned.

Instead of coming up with something pithy or insightful, I just found I was tired. Are we seriously still dealing with this? We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote and in those years we still haven’t resolved gender discrimination? We still haven’t achieved equality? Not merely as a legal formality, but as a cultural norm?

I don’t know if I’ll have kids, but I know if I do, I’d not want them to deal with this crap. I’d want my son to be able to worship ecstatically at Diana’s altar without feeling he was less due to his gender. If my daughter is assertive, logical, and reserved in her emotions, I don’t want her treated as less-than-woman or be told she has no place worshipping male Gods. If my child demonstrates to me they truly believe they born in the wrong gendered body, then anyone who tells them they are not welcome in expressing who they truly are better stand back. If my child is gay or bisexual, then you better believe I’d expect them to be welcome in circles both gay and straight.

You see, if I have children, I will teach them to honor their ancestors. Which means I will one day become an ancestor. Which means I have an obligation to the future. I don’t want future generations to lay a flower before my picture and solemnly say, “Gee, thanks for screwing everything up by ignoring the issues of your day and remaining silent.”

I’m Wiccan, and we have the whole polarity thing going on, but I swear when I hear other Pagans talk about gender and sexuality I sometimes feel like I’ve landed on a distant planet. Isn’t the whole point of feminism and male liberation that we no longer judge someone by their chromosomes and gender identity? Maybe it’s my affinity for the Greek religion, but I’ve always felt that character and virtue mattered foremost. Should your gender, appearance, style of expression or sexuality matter if you are honest, just, industrious and kind?

I don’t really have desire to separate off into a woman’s group, mainly because I don’t conform to traditional ideas of femininity. I prefer being part of a mixed group of people. Gay, straight, bisexual, cis-gendered, transgendered, old, young white, black, Asian, logical, emotional, shy, exuberant and a constellation of other attributes. To me, that’s what polarity is. That’s how I learn, from people who are different from me, and it’s how I grow.

I know I’m speaking from a minority Wiccan viewpoint, and from cis-gendered, straight, white privilege, but in my opinion the only reason someone should be barred from a Pagan gathering is because you feel they are inherently dishonest, unjust, unwilling to contribute and unkind. Someone isn’t dangerous because they have a penis, or more compassionate because they have a uterus.

If you can’t judge people by the content or their character and actions, then I have no interest in circling with you. If you can’t move past grade-school definitions of people, then I don’t want to chant with you. And if you think separatism is the answer, then I don’t want to hide in the dark with you.

And, dour and serious as I may seem, I also echo the words attributed to a wise-woman of long ago:

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” – Emma Goldman

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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • GreenFlame

    My group was founded by my husband, who had to wade through a lot of anti-male sentiment in the 90s and still harbors resentment, and we are not Dianic. Having said that, I do support women-born-women if they want to get together for any reason  based on those experiences, without men, or transgendered women, or anyone else as long as they don’t bash men or transgendered women — just as I support the right of men, transgendered people, intersexed people, LGB, or anyone else to come together and work amongst themselves as long as they don’t bash people different from them.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      People can do whatever they want. It’s a free country. They obviously don’t need my support or consent to do what they like. 

      I’ve participated in women’s ritual, and found that as nice as it was, it didn’t do anything for me except prove energy raising isn’t based on gender polarity. As for me personally, I just don’t want to participate in any of that. If your door isn’t open to all people of good character, then I will pass you by.

      • kenneth

        I tend to have that mindset too. I think maybe there’s a place for exclusive rituals in private settings now and then for particular kinds of work that men or women may get done within their own spheres so to speak, but I don’t see it as a particularly effective model on a day to day basis. I also don’t like the idea of that going on in rituals which are supposed to be open to the public. There was that one convention last year with a dust up about trans women not be allowed into some womens circle and that didn’t sit well with me. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1159473461 Steve Provost

      “Should your gender, appearance, style of expression or sexuality matter if you are honest, just, industrious and kind?”

      Absolutely not! As you probably guessed, I’m in hearty agreement with your conclusion that kindness, honesty, justice and a willingness to contribute should be what count. I understand that some may feel uncomfortable, and I have no problem being compassionate toward that. But I also, personally, want to transcend my own discomfort and focus on character and integrity.

      The one thing that troubled me was your assertion that you’re speaking from a minority Wiccan viewpoint. I’m not sure you are, but if that’s true, I find it sad – not in a holier-than-thou sense, but in the sense of true sadness. There’s so much out there we can learn from one another! I’m not Wiccan myself (I identify myself as a Pagan pantheist), so I can’t comment on the attitudes within Wicca specifically, but I have been heartened to see the positive, encouraging responses to my own blog and to Devin’s. I suspect you’ll find a lot of support for yours, too. And that’s not sad to me, at all. It’s the opposite: joyous.

  • Ellen

    the only reason someone should be barred from a Pagan gathering is because you feel they are inherently dishonest, unjust, unwilling to contribute and unkind. Someone isn’t dangerous because they have a penis, or more compassionate because they have a uterus

    Such a succinct and all-encompassing statement, applicable not only to ritual but life in general. I have left my christian up-bringing in my past because of bigotry, racism, discrimination and elitism.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Sing it, sister!  (As if it is any surprise that this is my reaction…!?!)  But still, one should support what one…well…supports!  :)

  • April

    I’ve come to believe tha gender is more of an expression of yin/yang rather than something that should be tied to genitals/gender roles. I agree with you, and applaud you on your article.

  • Leandra

    VERY WELL SAID!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Devin-Hunter/100000168453308 Devin Hunter

    Star, Thank you for taking the time during the busy Holidays to write about this. You spoke the words so many are processing. I couldn’t agree with your sentiment more.

  • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

    Star,

    I agree with your post.

    However, every time I scan down your blog, I find the title of the post disturbing.

    “Imagining A Post-Gender World”

    I don’t want a post-gender world.  I want a diverse-gender world.   The phrase “post-gender” feels like an attack on gender to me.  A rejection of people’s diverse experiences, not a celebration of them.


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