Archive for August 29, 2014

UUism: Interfaith by default

On Wild Hunt the question was asked of several Pagan/polytheist leaders-

Is Interfaith work necessary or a distraction? 

Both broader interfaith (Paganism + Abrahamic + Dharmic + indigenous religions etc) and interfaith within the “Pagan umbrella” were affirmed by various leaders as being important. A further level is intrafaith, one commenter pointed out the work (he? she?) does among different types of Heathenry. I like what Sannion had to say, that it depends on what work an individual is called to do. 

Unitarian Universalism is of course a interfaith religious structure/value system/philosophy unto itself. I think the time has come for us to stop presenting Paganism a giant blob and talk about individual religions. Paganism’s entry point into UUism was via the feminist movement, specifically in classes called “Rise Up and Call Her Name” and “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” that studied goddesses from around the world as well as rising awareness of ecological issues and their spiritual dimensions. As a result sometimes there is an assumption that it’s a “women’s spirituality” group. (There is a “Women’s Wisdom” group at Unity Unitarian*, but I haven’t gone to it, so I don’t really know what it entails.)

From what I’ve noticed around Unity, a lot of people have very loose spiritual identifications beyond UU, they are just sort of generically spiritually, or agnostic, or tentatively exploring different religions and philosophies. I’ve noticed that when an opportunity comes up to learn about a specific religion many people are very interested and curious, including my partner who doesn’t normally attend services. I came to Unity with more of an expectation that different religions would be discussed each Sunday, and perhaps passages from different holy texts might be used, but for the most part music, sermons and readings are chosen to fit in with a monthly worship theme. Specific religions are referenced here and there, but for the most part it’s kept pretty general. 

I’ve never been that interested in trying to form a CUUPs group at Unity because I didn’t want something that was super spiritually generic. I’m already at a Unitarian church, and I also have the luxury of a good-sized Pagan community and I can celebrate Wiccan style Sabbats with them if I want. (For some folks, the UUs are the only Pagan-friendly option in their area) I would be interested in a discussion group of some sort- heck I’d be interested in that in a general Pagan context too, but I suspect I’d have an easier time getting UUs to actually show up! However if I were to start such a thing, I could certainly advertise within the broader community. It doesn’t help however that there was at one time a CUUPS leader in the Twin Cities who developed a bad reputation among the general Pagan community. I don’t know how much I’ve heard is rumor, and how much is truth, however. I’m also not sure if the CUUPs chapter is still active. If they are, I haven’t noticed much outreach from them to the broader Pagan community.  Oddly enough, the church is based in is known for being really humanist. (Whereas at Unity people seem capable of using God-talk without flinching)

I’ve met a couple of people at Unity who identified as “Earth-based” while not going into specifics and plenty of others who express a general spiritual connection with nature. Heck plenty of people feel that, no Pagan community is required! There is one lady who is very into the Goddess/Divine Feminine, I suspect in a more psychological Jungian New Agey sort of way. Another lady is really big into astrology. So yeah, I’m not sure where to start here!

*Note Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul, MN not to be confused with Unity Church, the New Thought Christian denomination!

August 29, 2014 at 10:40 pm 8 comments

What “Queer” Actually Means

Yes This, Exactly- from Nornoriel: “And, while I strongly support same-sex marriage rights, I’m also of the opinion that we really as a society need to rethink the marriedfolk picket fence 2.5 kids monogamous vanilla whitebread neurotypical gender-binary-conforming gender-expression-conforming middle-class-office-careers SUV-driving casserole-and cookout-with-suburban-neighbors-having “just like everyone” thing, wherein GLBTQ+ people who fall outside of that modality of “normal”, who aren’t the Ultrabrite-smiling couple next door buying into the above scenario tend to get shoved under the bus in the name of “equal rights”, or even will get policed by others in our own community..”

Much as I too, try not to play identity police the definition of “queer” is getting watered down (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy did not involve dressing the straight guys up in steampunk outfits and teaching them non-violent resistance or something…) 

Among Millennials (my generation) this above couple would be very much a statistical rarity, whether a same-sex or different-sexed couple. Millennials, while they often don’t understand what “feminism” really is or identify as such, tend to be fairly egalitarian, and don’t worry much about gender roles. We also typically move in together long-term and don’t necessarily see marriage as a destination. We are very multicultural, sometimes we are called “Mosaics”. 

Bisexual here- being someone who is sometimes excluded from gay/lesbian spaces I’m pretty sympathetic to asexuals/gray-aces/demi-sexuals. What I think is a little silly is that people are framing things as if a ton of asexuals are trying to take over movements/organizations/gay bars (or what?) when asexuals are a relatively small minority, and *out, politically organized aces* are an even smaller minority. Once again, I think people’s perspective are being distorted by the internet.

If you experience sexuality in such a way that is ignored/erased/stigmatized by society, and you’re proud of your identity and don’t want to compromise it for other people’s comfort levels, to me that qualifies as “queer”. Better to band together than exclude people if they need support and want community.

August 29, 2014 at 2:36 am Leave a comment

Women-Only Space Does Not Mean Safe Space

I am really sick of the assumption by *some* feminists that women-only space is necessarily safe space. To begin with, I don’t want to have anything to do with all the transphobic crap that usually surrounds it, and furthermore even as a cis woman I don’t feel really welcome in the Girls Only Club. If these folks are so insistent on their narrow definition of womanhood, I’m sure at some point I’ll violate their pre-conceived notions. Too straight or too queer, too butch or too femme. Too something. I’m fine with participating in “anyone who IDs as a woman is welcome” spaces, but I do not go into them with the assumption that they’re automatically safer than spaces with men. 

I was never really a part of your “sisterhood” or “shared girlhood“, so save your cutesy speeches about sleepover parties and announcing when you got your period to your friends. I was That Weird Kid. I did have friends, growing up, but as I grew into puberty being a girl became less about having fun on my own terms- dressing up, having tea parties- as well as catching bugs and playing in the mud- and more about a list of obligations and rules that I had to follow. A few of these things I learned from my mother, who is a feminist herself and not inclined to push me into forms of femininity that weren’t my thing. But most of them were proclaimed and enforced with bullying, shaming, staring and shunning by other girls. In junior high, I got bored with all the fuss over makeup, clothes, diets, boys (really is anyone impressed by junior high boys?) and dances. I retreated to my books. Same with high school. Boys, for most part ignored me, but girls obsessively enforced “the rules”. 

After taking women’s studies classes in college, and observing how my experiences compare to other women, I’ve realized how much gender performance is part and parcel of faking being neurotypical. It’s suspected that women and girls are less often diagnosed with autism, or are labeled later in life because we are often better at passing as neurotypical, often by mimicking others, and just being quiet and withdrawn. My partner jokes that I have “male pattern autism”- I threw tantrums, I expressed loud opinions. My behavior was impossible to ignore, so I was labeled at fairly young age (at about 8 or 9) Anyway, I’ve gotten to the point that whenever I see a book or article, or hear a statement that “women think this way, communicate or develop this way” or whatever, I just think “That’s neurotypical women they’re talking about.” And most of the time whatever generalization was made doesn’t fit me very well, and may not even fit a lot of neurotypical women, but least of all me!

Now, I have indeed been bullied, harassed and sometimes abused by men but those experiences haven’t taught me that men, as a category of human beings are to be feared. I’m equally cautious with men and women in general social settings, though more cautious with men when walking down the street. 

So really, I ask you is really so much better for womanhood, girlhood, femininity or whatever to be defined and enforced by women rather than by men? I think the nastiest tool of the patriarchy is not the average man, but rather other women, even ones who call themselves feminists. We are our own worst enemy. I’m not letting off the men off the hook here, certainly they should be held accountable *as individuals* for their actions, but let’s not pretend we have this glorious utopian sisterhood. 

From transwomen and transmen, and cross-dressers and all manner of gender-diverse folks, I’ve learned that there are so many more options of who I can be as a human being, I feel more comfortable with being a woman in my own way *because of them* They are not in any way threatening to my identity as a woman. If they threaten yours, I think you’re the one who needs to work on having a healthy gender identity, one that’s based on being yourself rather than worrying about how other people identify.

August 29, 2014 at 1:29 am 2 comments


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