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