Quick Notes: Cady McClain’s Goddess, The Doctrine of Discovery, and Ernest Callenbach’s Final Statement

Quick Notes: Cady McClain’s Goddess, The Doctrine of Discovery, and Ernest Callenbach’s Final Statement May 7, 2012

Here are a few quick news notes to start off your Monday.

Cady McClain Discusses Porn, Wants a Goddess: Actress Cady McClain, perhaps best-known for her roles on daytime television with All My Children and As the World Turns, writes an opinion piece for PolicyMic about violence and degradation in adult films, and sees patriarchal religion lying at the root of the issue.

Cady McClain

“I believe we can look to patriarchal religions for one part of the answer: in a society where the god we worship is male, and the most popular religions state women are only an extension of a man- women hold no value. Period. Without the acceptance that the female divine is as holy as the male, human women will never fully take their place alongside men in terms of respect. We will still be objects to f-ck and vessels for a man’s sperm, owned by men, dominated by men, abused by men, and flushed down the toilet at will. Valueless.

I want to make it clear I am not saying that women should be held above a man in terms of her value. I am also not saying that all women are goddesses and should be worshipped as such. I am saying that without a healthy, socially accepted construct for a feminine divine equal to the masculine divine, we are a society out of balance, leaving women vulnerable to be blamed and attacked whenever something goes wrong.”

Sadly, the piece doesn’t really go into McClain’s vision of what an acceptance of the female divine should look like in our society, or how that impulse manifests in her own life. Is she a Goddess worshiper? Would she like to see a revival of polytheism? Or is this more of a “goddess within” sort of thing? In any case, a provocative read, sure to incite some debate, even if she did misspell Noam Chomsky’s name.

Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery: This week and next is the the 11th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), and a primary focus will be the infamous Doctrine of Discovery and “its enduring impact on indigenous peoples and the right to redress for past conquests.” Indian Country Today Media Network reports on the work by indigenous leaders and activists to overturn the legal legitimacy of conquest.  The taking of  “pagan” lands that begun with Papal Bulls of the 15th century, and was eventually enshrined in American law.

Opening of the 9th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

“The forum includes 16 independent experts, who serve up to two three-year terms. Half are nominated by governments, and the others by indigenous organizations in several regional groupings—Africa; Asia; Central and South America and the Caribbean; the Arctic; Central and Eastern Europe, Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; North America; and the Pacific—that encompass the world’s 370 million Indigenous Peoples.

Two years ago, Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Onondaga, the former North American Regional Representative to the forum, presented a paper called, “A Preliminary Study on the Doctrine of Discovery,” which explored the underlying reasons for the worldwide violation of Indigenous Peoples’ human rights. The study found that the Doctrine of Discovery, which developed from 15th century papal bulls and the royal charters of European monarchs that gave European Christians the right to claim lands “discovered” by their explorers if no Christians lived on those lands. If the “pagan” inhabitants converted to Christianity, they might be allowed to live; otherwise they could be killed or enslaved. The doctrine eventually became embedded and institutionalized in law and policy internationally.”

There’s been an ongoing groundswell of activism to get churches to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. Most recently within the Unitarian Universalist Association, who will consider a responsive resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery in June during the 2012 General Assembly. Check out my 2009 interview with activist and Reclaiming Witch Zay Speer, who was at the last Parliament of the World’s Religions, working with the Onondaga Nation to end the Doctrine of Discovery. An agenda and program for the UNPFII can be found, here.

Ernest Callenbach’s Final Statement: A document found on the computer of the late Ernest Callenbach, the acclaimed author of “Ecotopia,” written shortly before he died, has been published. In it, Callenbach calls for hope, mutual support, and the adoption of practical skills in the face of ecological disaster and violent environmental change.

Ernest Callenbach

“These are dark times, these are bright times. We are implacably making the planet less habitable. Every time a new oil field is discovered, the press cheers: “Hooray, there is more fuel for the self-destroying machines!” We are turning more land into deserts and parking lots. We are wiping out innumerable species that are not only wondrous and beautiful, but might be useful to us. We are multiplying to the point where our needs and our wastes outweigh the capacities of the biosphere to produce and absorb them. And yet, despite the bloody headlines and the rocketing military budgets, we are also, unbelievably, killing fewer of each other proportionately than in earlier centuries. We have mobilized enormous global intelligence and mutual curiosity, through the Internet and outside it. We have even evolved, spottily, a global understanding that democracy is better than tyranny, that love and tolerance are better than hate, that hope is better than rage and despair, that we are prone, especially in catastrophes, to be astonishingly helpful and cooperative.

We may even have begun to share an understanding that while the dark times may continue for generations, in time new growth and regeneration will begin. In the biological process called “succession,” a desolate, disturbed area is gradually, by a predictable sequence of returning plants, restored to ecological continuity and durability. When old institutions and habits break down or consume themselves, new experimental shoots begin to appear, and people explore and test and share new and better ways to survive together.”

Consider this something of a counter-point to Michael York’s somewhat apocalyptic editorial from yesterday. Yes, ecological dark times are ahead of us, but perhaps we can “embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth.” Maybe true evolution and revolution are possible only in times of great peril.

That’s all I have for the moment, have a great day!

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29 responses to “Quick Notes: Cady McClain’s Goddess, The Doctrine of Discovery, and Ernest Callenbach’s Final Statement”

  1. Cady opens a great discussion in her statements, however I am unsure if the comments will be taken to heart by the audience this piece was written for.

  2. *sigh* I have to agree. Most of the comments seem more interested in shutting her down as not credible than engaging in debate/discussion of the themes. 

  3. Ms McClian speaks of truths almost every pagan understands , the community as whole understands , but what is her point ? who is she talking to ? and is she a Godess worshipper or pagan?.       Next id like to comment on the doctrine of Discovery , when i first read of this my responce was ” Are you frikkin kidding me? still sounds absurd to me now . Not really surprised this crap came from our friends the Catholic Church though. During those times the church considered anyone not Christian a ignorant savage and that they were doing the savages a favor by bringing Christianity to them . The damage done to indiginous peoples by this concept/policy is unmeasurable .Even hard to rap your head around . This is even worse than the American manifest destiny policy.The fact that the European monarchies and even our government adopted this policy is bothersome .As a pagan and brother to those victimised by this policy i am deeply troubled by this .This  doctrine needs to be overturned  worldwide , i am surprised that kind of nonsense is still on the books . But i must take an odd stand on this , maybe some here will agree , not sure . This is the same stand i take on reparations for American slavery . I don’t see how we can pay to those that are no longer alive , for crimes perpatrated by people that are no longer alive . Now i can understand changing how our govt . deals with Native Americans , treating them properly and with honor , as should have been done long ago. Between slavery and how the Native Americans were treated these are two of the darkest parts of our history . But paying reparations for actions from over 150 to 300 yrs ago doesn’t work for me .The  perpitrators and the victims both are long gone . Back in those days a American Indian /US govt treaty wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on , we must treat native americans better now .Right any wrongs we can correct now, under current conditions .That i totaly agree with .Be it what it is , the negro slave trade didn’t start here , and wasn’t started by Americans . This was just the last port of call. Europeans started the African slave trade not Americans this is just where they ended up . I’m not trying to justify it , just stating facts . The same case applies to the Discovery Doctrine . Europeans decimated American native societies with this concept and the diseases they brought w/ them . These are undisputed facts . The  Conquistadors , Columbus , right on down the line . What we need to do now is make sure such a doctrine never rears it’s ugly head again .This is just another case of mans inhumanity to man . As a Pagan with a honor/conduct code , i cant understand how one can treat others in those ways or even how a proper Christian could , so it goes .    Kilm

  4.  It is the spiritual superiority that Christianity and it’s successor Islam feeds it’s adherents. The explorers believed that natives were savages not only because of there lack of “technology” but also because they did not believe in Christianity. That meant they were damned at best or were soulless at worst, which meant that the explorers felt justified and even obligated to enslave and or destroy them as a necessary part of spreading gods word and glory. It’s just that anyone who does not accept Jesus/Allah is not a real person to them. 

  5. Oh, FFS. Apparently she has absolutely no conception of the fact that there are a lot of people–to include feminist women such as myself–who are part of the BDSM/kink community, and for whom consensual kink is a perfectly acceptable expression of desire, love, and trust. “All acts of love and pleasure”–but only if they’re vanilla, right?

  6.  Yeah, I found her full-throated embrace of vanilla porn to be kinda funny. But this really got me mad: “Women are not here to create a culture of Amazons to enslave and humiliate men”.  First I find out that the flying on broomsticks thing is all a myth, now someone wants to take the Amazons away! All the fun is getting drained from this religion.

  7. “Half are nominated by governments, and the others by indigenous
    organizations in several regional groupings—Africa; Asia; Central and
    South America and the Caribbean; the Arctic; Central and Eastern Europe,
    Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia; North America; and
    the Pacific—that encompass the world’s 370 million Indigenous Peoples.”

    So no one in Western Europe is “indigenous”? Hmmm.  Does the category of “Asia” include Japan, and if so, are the Ainu considered more indigenous than the majority Japanese? What about the Korean peninsula?

  8. Nope, there are no indigenous people in Western Europe. Either because they’re white, or because they were lucky enough to not be oppressed. Well, some of them actually were oppressed, so that standard doesn’t work. Maybe they weren’t oppressed enough? Maybe they became too urbanized? I have no idea why no group in Western Europe, whether majority or minority, counts as “indigenous”.

  9. Probably because Europe is the source of most of the original colonial mindset, so how can the Empire Builder be indiginous?

  10. The article of Callenbach is definitely not a counter-point to York’s editorial, it actually talks about the same point. The whole article is about how to survive after the collapse. I hope more people read it.
    “International consumer capitalism is a self-destroying machine, and as
    long as it remains the dominant social form, we are headed for
    catastrophe; indeed, like rafters first entering the “tongue” of a great
    rapid, we are already embarked on it”.

  11. One would think that at least the Irish, Basques, and Corsicans would qualify. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of all identity politics: the definitions always turn out to arbitrary.

  12. How many truly indigenous people are there anywhere? Icelanders are the only group of people that I know of for sure that did not displace the people who were there before them, because there was no one there before them.

  13. Many of the Celtic peoples  should be considered indiginous . They were oppressed and comquered by the romans , then assaulted by the Christians . Thier native ways  co-opted or eliminated all across Western Europe and the Island nations .     Kilm

  14. Sorry Genexs, were’nt the amazons greek ?From my understanding they are not a myth . The Amazons were real . But like much from our pagan past are no longer w/ u, Mediteranian legend .    Kilm

  15. On Porn and the Goddess in the Toilet…

    Words can light a fire under discovery and the depths and breadth of change and some don’t like it because it feels “forced” or thrust them. They may become somewhat indignant and/or dismissive. When someone lays bare any raw undercurrents of the abuse metaparadigm that’s always entwined with society and discusses such things intelligently like this, many will react as if the very fabric of society has been threatened.  It has been but many are not comfortable with unraveling their realities enough to look at the unhealthy stuff that actually goes a lot deeper (understatement) than they want to acknowledge… unless it’s in response to very personal experiences and revelations rather than “just words.” People frequently don’t readily trust “just words” even when they make tremendous logical sense. They have to process it every which way in their own time in the contexts of their lives, if ever.

    Audience Identification….ID

    As far as identification or labeling of her audience, I’d be willing to bet that Cady McClain does not put a definite (personal or other) religious identity to her observations and attempt to tweak people’s brains (in this case) because to a greater extent than ever before, we share today’s metaparadigms in a very global way and this issue also lies at the morass of a juncture of religious, social, political and sexual realities.  In a case like this, as soon as you put a religious identity to what you’re saying (supposedly thus identifying the audience) it does weird things to the dialog — it tends to derail the conversation into faith-based identity clashes and culture war stuff and the chances that your points will be buried and forgotten rise astronomically. Putting an identity to anything can tip a lot of people’s brains over into the branding/label mode and that mode encourages much shallower thinking…which is fine with a lot of people because they don’t want the apple cart upset as much as this McClain’s piece could, should it be taken to heart and to robust, ongoing, open dialogue.

    I would think her audience is global because porn is. Sure, many might not like her interjecting the word and concept of goddess into the conversation, but they can still get many points and the gist of it.

  16.  The UN defines an indigenous people thus:

    “Indigenous populations are composed of the existing descendants of
    the peoples who inhabited the present territory of a country wholly or
    partially at the time when persons of a different culture or ethnic
    origin arrived there from other parts of the world, overcame them, by
    conquest, settlement or other means, reduced them to a non-dominant or
    colonial condition; who today live more in conformity with their
    particular social, economic and cultural customs and traditions than
    with the institutions of the country of which they now form part, under a
    state structure which incorporates mainly national, social and cultural
    characteristics of other segments of the population which are
    As far as I know the Sámi are the only people in Europe who are generally classified as ‘indigenous’.

  17.  Last I checked “all acts of love and pleasure” meant “ALL acts” not just “acts I personally approve of because they are in line with my desires”. Also, it seems someone has never heard of femdom, or that people who aren’t heterosexual are kinky too. 

  18. Hots, all the historic stuff i understand , and what the Christians did , not only here , but to my ancestors as well . It’s just that with my Pagan honor code based mindset , makes this kind of thought / behavior quite difficult to understand , thats all.      Kilm

  19. McClain mentions late in the essay that she was molested. That could underlie her attitudes.

    She makes full use of the vocabulary of Seventies feminism, such as use of her own emotions as a moral compass: Sexual practice A turns me on while B grosses me out; therefore A is wholesome, B perverse. And refusal to consider that people who do B, either in life or portrayal, can be fully consenting.

    I hope she’s happy and fulfilled in her embrace of A.

  20. This piece of UN sophism truly underscores Apuleius’s point about “arbitrary.” 

  21.  Not saying that I, or anyone else has to, agree with this definition. The event described in the article is apparently hosted by the UN, so their definition of ‘indigenous’ is naturally going to be the basis for who is invited to attend.

  22.  It’s simple. it’s a mixture of fear and superiority and self satisfaction. The fear of damnation and eternal torment if they don’t follow their religious authorities (popes, imams), and teachings, and the biggest was conversion, saving souls from hell by converting them to Christianity (the worlds biggest hypocrocy). This fear and need to follow orders for salvation was mixed with both the self satisfaction they felt “saving souls” as well as the spiritual superiority that allowed them to seize riches and land for all Christian God Fearing peoples.

  23.  I agree, but perhaps there should be line where women are having there heads shoved in toilets. I don’t see how anyone can get off watching that or participating in it and I’ve watched some edgy Hentai (Japanese Animated porn) which I consider the safest form of pornography. No matter what the subject it’s still just ink on a page.  And if porn encourages rape culture, then why is sex an japan on the decline?

  24.  Greeks? Are you implying that her article is nothing but a Trojan Horse? For a job on ‘Fox & Friends”? But getting back to the Amazons, I wish I could find my old copies of  ‘Frighten the Horses’.

  25. If you’d read the article I believe the use by Cady McClain of the term “Goddess” was more metaphoric.  I didn’t take it literally… as she says, “I am also not saying that all women are goddesses and should be worshipped as such.”

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