Posts tagged ‘feminism’

Crossing the Danube: Celtic & Germanic differences

Whenever I go into Heathen or Asatru spaces I joke silently to myself that I’m metaphorically crossing the Danube, the river that the Romans considered the rather arbitrary division between the  continental Germanic and Celtic tribes. Similarities and differences between Celtic and Germanic groups are sometimes over-emphasized or downplayed, in addition to of course intra-Celtic and intra-Germanic cultures having those problems. This adds up to create some misunderstandings between these two cultural/linguistic families including in the religious aspects. I will discuss the general spectrum of Celtic paganism, polytheism and Druidry, and get into a little that is specific to Celtic Reconstructionism. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Decent Celtic information has tended to be more obscure than decent Germanic information (at least Icelandic sources!) , in spite of often being more popular among Pagans most easily available information was up to not that long ago. Frankly, I’m amused what Heathens angrily denounce as being fluffy, the amount of fluff they have typically had to deal with seems so minor by comparison to the Celtic side.
  2. I know many Celtic Pagans/polytheists and Druids that are also at least partially involved in Norse/Germanic traditions whether for reasons of ancestral/ethnic heritage and/or spiritual inclination. We also sometimes have spouses who are Norse/Germanic by culture & spirit, and the household may to some degree combine the two, particularly with ancestor honoring. Folks who primarily identify as Heathen or Germanic/Norse polytheist seem to be less frequently eclectic/syncretic or dual/multi-tradition. Though I am seeing an increase in that, especially with the Religio Romana.
  3. How historically gender-egalitarian- or even “matriarchal” or “feminist” nature of Celtic cultures were gets exaggerated, while the not-so gender egalitarian-ness of Germanic cultures gets exaggerated. They both were mixed bags for the status and treatment of women- patriarchal overall, but women especially higher class women, had more rights than most of ancient Greece or Rome. This also varies by time period, specific culture and so forth of course.
  4. The warrior path gets over-emphasized in a distorting way among Germanic folks, and particularly in some types of British Druidry, Celts somehow become pacifists..like say what *where* are you getting this from? When really being mostly farmers and herders with a few aristocratic warbands was for the most part what both the Celtic and Germanic tribes did.
  5. The conversion to Christianity of the Irish, Scots and Welsh at least was more peaceful than that of most Germanic peoples I’m aware of. That doesn’t mean we’re happy about it, but that Celtic Pagan relationships with Christianity & Christians is overall less hostile. You see more overt syncretism between the two, and a spectrum between Celtic Paganism and Celtic Christianity gets referred to as Celtic Spirituality or Celtic Wisdom generally. Though there are shared customs, sacred sites and local spirits honored by both Christians, Heathens and secular folk in Germany, Austria, the Low Countries and Nordic countries and by their diasporan cousins. I certainly don’t see Heathens celebrating the patron saint days of their homelands!
  6. There is more Celtic Reconstructionist (particularly historical) overlap with general Paganism/Wicca/Witchcraft and Druidry both Neo-Pagan & fraternal/ceremonial magic influenced types as compared with Asatru and Heathenry, which has roots in some places in folk culture & custom revivals and to some degree in occult/magical orders, though that influence seems to have lessened over time. Much to its chagrin, Celtic reconstructionists have had more difficulty in differentiating themselves from broader Paganism as compared with Heathens, who have been quite persistent in their distinct identity.
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June 5, 2018 at 7:52 am 3 comments

Intro: Why Celtic Paganism is not usually Alt-Right friendly

I’ve spent a fair amount of time for several years reading thru articles about the Alt Right and closely related political/cultural factions that say they aren’t Alt Right, but have many of the same ideas & tendencies. Yes, this has included looking at Alt Right websites, forums, even watching some of their YouTube videos. Reading blogs by folkish & Alt-Right sympathetic polytheists, Heathens & Pagans as well. It’s not exactly a fun way to spend my time, but I’ve considered this research a harsh necessity in today’s world. Likewise, I know many of these folks do the same research in the other direction towards people like me, the “Social Justice Warriors”.

Anyhow, I’ve encountered in several of these places frustration, bafflement and so forth at how most Celtic Pagan spaces do not include them or even that our communities (both online & off) are too feminist/SJW dominated. Typically I see this as a good “problem” for us to have! Alt-right leaning ideas (or ones easily mistaken for them)  do indeed exist in our spaces, as well as in non-Pagan centric Celtic cultural spaces. We don’t always agree on what “counts” as bigotry and cultural appropriation, and in particular I’m not going to call people racist or appropriative, because I feel those terms have become so broadly used that it isn’t clear what they mean. Heck, I myself have been accused of cultural appropriation and various kinds of bigotry, in spite of all my attempts to try following intersectional social justice ideology.  I’m not interested in a debate with any hard-core Alt Righties. I’m open to potential civil discussion with people who don’t dehumanize people who are different from them, and to be fair I’ve had a tendency to do that myself to some folks- and I’ll be talking more about ways I’ve behaved badly and been hypocritical. I’d appreciate people who disagree with me to do the same.

For anyone who isn’t comfortable, that’s fine you do not need to participate. I’ll still be moderating comments for nastiness. I also think we need to have discussions among liberal/left-wing/progressive Pagans & polytheists and I will make it clear when those are internal discussions, likewise with discussions between liberal/leftists who are of non-Pagan religious identities and non-religious identities.  Whew! That was a lot, and that’s just the intro post.

This post series is being done from a primarily religious and cultural viewpoint as an many generations removed Irish/Scottish diasporan American polytheist rather than a secular political viewpoint. If I get ambitious enough I’ll adapt them for a non-Pagan Irish/Scottish cultural interest audience (for both diasporans & natives, whoever’s interested in my blatherings, I’m also happy to link to folks grappling with similar issues in their communities.

This post was inspired by & an indirect response to #9 Politics in Melas the Hellene’s Polemical Topics in Polytheism series.

 

June 1, 2018 at 1:42 am 10 comments

Things Other White People Tell Me

They tell me, if I work in solidarity with people of color, and try to educate myself to unlearn the racism I have been taught, that I must be motivated by white guilt.

They tell me if I criticize what other white people say, that I must hate myself- my skin, my “culture”, “heritage”, “people”. They don’t specify what they mean by those things. Apparently I share their culture, am one of their people, just based on my skin color…

They tell me that immigrants are coming to destroy “our” way of life, religion, culture, take “our” jobs. They forget all the same things were said about their ancestors.

They tell me Black, brown, Asian people are more homophobic and sexist- it’s just “their culture” what do you expect. While most of the laws made to oppress queer people and women are made by white (purportedly straight) men. Clearly we need to invade those other countries so we can civilize them and bring them feminism, or atheism, or capitalism or Christianity. Because that would be progress.

They ask why study other languages, because English is clearly the best one, immigrants all need to learn English. They forget how long their German or other ancestors kept speaking their languages. They forget some of my ancestors stopped speaking their native language, being force-taught “superior English” before even coming to this country.

They tell me that “white genocide” is apparently a problem I should be worried about, forgetting that some of my ancestors survived genocide- whether they were considered “white” or not at the time.

They worry about me riding the bus and walking in certain neighborhoods, in spite of the fact that a white cis (non-trans) woman is less likely to be attacked than a woman or man of color.

They want to keep out Syrian and other Muslim refugees to protect white women like me. That’s why the Klan was formed, why countless Black men were hung. To protect white women. I am more likely to be abused or attacked by white men- simply due to who is in my social circle, and who I tend to date. If that happens, though I suppose their concern for me will disappear, how was I dressed, did I have a proper escort.

I am also told that I need protection from the trans women who need to use the bathroom. In spite of the fact that I’ve experienced far more bullying from other white cis girls, because I wasn’t feminine enough, my teenage autistic awkwardness sticking out. I learned that there were many ways to be a woman from trans women, from women of color, from non-binary and genderqueer folks. The same people making these bathroom laws also oppose anti-bullying laws. Who are they actually protecting?

February 29, 2016 at 2:27 am Leave a comment

Vocational Paths: Warrior

Next in Approaching Paganism- Vocational Paths: Warrior

As with elder, I think this needs be a role defined by specific cultural traditions and organizations. If you feel a calling to a warrior path, in what context will you walk that path? Which community, tradition, deity etc. will you do warrior work for, and what does that entail? I am not a warrior myself, but even if I were, I still couldn’t answer those questions for you. Here are some factors to consider, as well as some ways different people and traditions define warriorship both in Greater Neo-Pagandom and broader U.S. society (I’m always interested in hearing about non-U.S. perspectives, just basing things on what I’m familiar with)

  • Mundane/Paid Profession/Job/Career- a person who serves, has served, or plans to serve in the military, police, fire departments, emergency personnel (EMT, paramedic) park/forest ranger etc. Such a person may go into these fields as part of a spiritual calling, or discover/explore the spiritual dimensions after going into it.
  • Practitioner, Teacher or Master of a particular martial arts form- it could be a hobby, a form of exercise and self-defense, various Asian martial arts traditions typically have some culturally-specific philosophical concepts involved, at least if they have haven’t been watered down into American Mixed Martial Arts…(Puke!)
  • Devotee of a war-associated deity, hero(es), warrior/military dead- I know various people that have taken up martial arts and other forms of physical fitness as ways to connect with and serve a deity or spirit. Some, but not all of such folks identify as warriors, or as priests of the deity.
  • Roles at rituals and festivals such as warding/guarding the edge of a ritual space, working security at a festival or other Pagan event, being an advocate of abuse victims/survivors in Pagan and broader communities.

Ethics & Norms to Consider-

  • Are Peaceful/Spiritual Warriors a thing? Do nonviolent political activists count as warriors? This is debatable- I’d say be aware of what context you are in- Reclaiming Witches perhaps, Heathens/Asatruar, not so much.
  • Gender- some people think warrior automatically means male, a rite of passage to manhood involves “becoming a warrior” and so forth. I also see the “strong woman equals warrior” meme among certain feminists, both religious & secular- or conversely “women should be/are inherently peaceful” among certain feminists and anti-feminists alike! Nope. People of any (or no) gender can be warriors, and people of particular genders *don’t have to be* warriors if that’s not their inclination.
  • People in, or formerly in the careers discussed above may or may not identify as warriors in a spiritual sense. Calling someone by a label they don’t want is not “honoring” them. Being individual humans, they will have varying emotions and opinions about their experiences, please respect give space to them accordingly.
  • Be careful about attaching cultural associations to “warrior” that are not yours or bringing them into the wrong cultural context. (E.g. would you wear your karate gear as ritual garb?)
  • Historical re-enactment, role-playing games and the like are fun hobbies, but they are not necessarily part of your religion.
  • Observe rules/laws at rituals, festivals and people’s homes about what (if at all) weapons are allowed, how they should be secured, children and pets as factors, etc.
  • Being a warrior is not an excuse for being a bully, bad behavior etc. In fact, many warriors have codes of ethics that they strictly adhere to!

Part II will be links and commentary from people in various warrior traditions.

January 16, 2016 at 11:47 pm 1 comment

Do Not Claim to Speak For Me

Do not claim to speak for me

When your voice fillls with hate and superiority

I am not of your “sisterhood”

I am not of your exclusionary tribe

Those you cast aside, that you scorn

I know I’m not far behind

You tell me I betray “our kind of people”, but you didn’t ask if I was really one of “us”.

I may look like the right kind of woman, from the right neighborhood, the right school, the right country, speaking the right language with the right accent

Clean, respectable, honest, punctual

Trustworthy, loyal to some cause or nation, real or imagined

I’m only of value if I keep silent or stay in line.

I’m not here to be your example, your metaphor, a symbol for your struggle.

What do you know of my struggle? Or whether I share in yours?

You Do Not Speak for Me.

Entrance Fee

My college degree is a membership fee

To enter your special club

I see my friends outside, looking in.

I’d give my ticket away to them. I can’t find my way inside this maze.

But maybe instead I’ll find other ways. Other paths inside to speak my truths about different ways of being

I can’t take apart your country club. But I can open the doors a little wider. I can draw maps of the mazes inside.

(Not sure if this one is done…)

June 16, 2015 at 11:19 pm 1 comment

Feminism Beyond Black and White

Earlier, I mentioned there seems to be a growing division between Black and white feminists. As I’ve done more reading and listening to speeches, books and blogs by Black women, I’ve come to better understand and empathize with their concerns, and see the problems with mainstream liberal feminism- that it is centered around the concerns of upper-middle class, educated cisgender non-disabled white career women- or stay-at home moms who have “opted out”- the so-called “Mommy Wars” frame this as a choice for “every woman” while ignoring that is truly only a choice for some. To make clear that this “feminism” is not truly inclusive, it has come to referred to as white feminism.To be fair, I understand that the “white feminism” is distinct from “feminism(s) as theorized/practiced by feminists who are white” (The definition of white also varies by country & culture)

I’ve toyed with “Country club feminism” instead- since country clubs traditionally exclude all the groups that white feminism excludes (or make feeble but clueless attempts to include!) However, like “white feminism” I think it ends up having a rather U.S. centric cultural connotation. Clearly, this is very much a false dichotomy, to begin with it leaves out Latina, Asian, Pacific Islander and indigenous women activists (whether they identify as feminist or not) And even within the designation of Black, it is not always clear how inclusive this may be of Afro-Caribbean and African immigrants and their descendants and people who still live in Africa or other parts of the diaspora. (Sometimes Black/African Diasporan feminism/womanism is used instead)

I feel white liberal style feminism does include lesbians pretty well- at least if they are white and class privileged. There is a mixed record with bisexual women, and an even more mixed record of trans inclusion! Poor/working class and disabled women might be included if they manage to “make it” into the business, academic or political fields- so long as they keep the focus on their struggles with sexism and less about other isms.

Another tension between Black and white feminism is the use of the term intersectionality, which was coined by Black feminist legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw to discuss the complexities of discrimination and oppression experienced by Black women- including gender, race and class. I have embraced this concept and seen it used by many feminists of various cultural backgrounds, but then it came to my attention that intersectionality is being used more broadly than intended by Ms. Crenshaw and her colleagues. I am not sure what this means for non-Black feminists of color, but at least for white feminists, please note that I did write this post discussing various forms of oppression without using the word until this paragraph. I think we are intelligent and capable of coming up with our own words, though perhaps we can still use intersectionality when Black women are part of the conversation. White (sub)culture(s) built on stealing from others have made us lazy and uncreative, learning to create without taking from others (and not giving back) is a skill we need to develop. Even if we are intersectional, we need to show it with our actions, not by just invoking the word!

Further reading-

#SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen- Women of Colors’s issue with Digital Feminism- by Mikki Kendall

Conversation with Patricia Hill Collins (Black feminist/womanist) about use of intersectionality by white feminists

If You’re White, Don’t Call Yourself an Intersectional Feminist

May 1, 2015 at 2:12 am Leave a comment

Waiting to Breathe- Am I Bisexual?

Where we last left our bumbling heroine, she was living in Dubuque, Iowa with her brother and parents. In junior high, I found my elementary school friends growing apart from me. They had discovered the fascinating trio of Clothes, Boys and Makeup, oh my! These failed to impress me (junior high boys, really?), so I focused on my studies- particularly enjoying art class and social studies and immersing myself in fantasy novels and mythology. I also had a few years earlier, failed to see how wonderful puberty was supposed to be– it mostly just seemed messy and smelly and annoying. Kinda like junior high boys. I enjoyed being a girl with free mix of tea parties with dolls and dress up as well as playing with mud and collecting bugs with my brother. Becoming a “woman” seemed like a joke when “gifted” with just with the physical features and none of the social perks. It just seemed like a longer to-do list- shave your legs and arm-pits, dealing with acne, wearing a bra, wearing make-up and “the right” clothes.

In elementary school we heard this on the playground:

I Love You, You Love Me! HO-MO-SEX-U-AL-IT-Y! People Think That We’re Just Friends, But We’re Really Lesbians! Ha-ha  and that is SOOO GAY! (That’s the Barney Dinosaur theme song, in case you are from a different time or place and are blissfully unaware) Things were also “retarded” about as often as they were “gay”. That was about it, as far as my awareness of other sexualities were concerned. They were just slurs, playground taunts.

In junior high we graduated to rumor-mongering!

I bet that art teacher is gay! He wears an earring, and has long hair! Whoa…he must be a (gasp!) hippie!

At this point I realized that this was actually A Real Thing, that some people were attracted to the same sex. Cross-dressing was also A Thing that apparently some people had a big problem with, though I thought their objections were pretty silly, considering how I was coming to view gender roles and expectations!

Then after junior high we moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota. Instead of Central in our neighborhood, we chose Arlington Senior High School. It was brand new, with lots of computers and was organized into “houses” so you would take your basic classes together with the same group of students, and had block scheduling so there were only 4 classes a day instead of 7, which made things easier for me to handle.  There’s far more I could say, but I’m focusing on identity development.

At some point I went to a movie with a friend, a re-make of The Haunting of Hill House. One of the characters in it was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and I realized while watching it that I felt about the actress the way I felt about, for example Brad Pitt. It’s possible I’d felt that before with other women, but the character she was playing in the film was a rather embarrassingly stereotypical bisexual- promiscuous, trying to seduce people of both genders and so forth. My friend was vocally grossed out by this, so I naturally did not confide my new found feelings.

There was, according to a bulletin board, a gay and lesbian (not sure if B & T were featured) student support group at our school. It wasn’t a Gay Straight Alliance, it was a Top Secret Support Group. To get into it, you need to go talk to the nurse. This was well-meaning of the Powers That Be, perhaps to protect the privacy and safety of the students. But I had already been dragged to enough doctors and therapists, I didn’t like the idea of having to go to the nurse to discuss my sexuality. That seemed to imply that I had a “problem” that I needed help with.

My parents while this was going, had switched some of their church-y social justice gears to getting Hamline United Methodist to be a Reconciling congregation, with a statement that gays and lesbians were accepted. The topic had never been broached from the pulpit, from what I was aware of as a kid, nor had anything been mentioned in the church-sponsored sex ed class I had taken in junior high. So as I realized my own sexuality, I knew my parents would be accepting. It was just a matter of accepting and understanding it myself!

This is part 2 of a series of posts on my personal identity development – previous one here.

March 29, 2015 at 7:37 am Leave a comment

It’s Vulva, not Vagina

In the annals of Things that Annoy me as a Woman, Feminist, Pagan, and just plain Human-

Odd example, but bear with me:

In an episode of a TV show I watch, that takes place at a fictional law firm, there was a public sculpture, after being unveiled, the city who commissioned the sculpture refused to pay the artist, saying it “violated community standards”. Throughout the episode the characters made arguments about whether the sculpture did or didn’t “look like a vagina”. Problem: most people, apart from gynecologists- don’t really know what vaginas look like. It’s an internal organ. It’s a vulva, people! Labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris. Not vagina- that’s the “slot” below the vulva. But that’s slot that the penis goes into, so it’s the important part! Yay heteronormativity. So we refer to the whole of female anatomy as “the vagina”. This spreads misinformation, and is insulting to women. Seriously? It doesn’t help how shoddy sexual education is in our public schools. But most of the time, there are sexually experienced adults talking about the Great Mysterious Female Anatomy. Stop talking about it that way. It shouldn’t be any more mysterious than male anatomy, which apparently is more OK to talk about? Is it more obscene to say vulva than vagina? Is this an American problem rather than a European or Canadian one? I don’t know- feel free to tell me if other countries are less insistent on oversimplifying lady parts.

But yeah- this whole thing reminds me of the straight guys who can’t fathom what women do together in the bedroom. All I can say is fellas, if you can’t figure that out, your girlfriends and wives must be pretty unhappy.

Here’s some visuals to help you out. (Not porn- sex ed material!)

This post has been brought to you by: Sheela Na Gig

“Sheela Na Gigs are quasi-erotic stone carvings of a female figure usually found on Norman or to be more precise Romanesque churches. They consist of an old woman squatting and pulling apart her vulva, a fairly strange thing to find on a church. The carvings are old and often do not seem to be part of the church but have been taken from a previous older, usually romanesque, building.” Well, isn’t that special?

November 11, 2014 at 7:01 am 5 comments

This Catholic feminist is definitely Catholic, but is she feminist?

While looking up responses to Emma Watson’s speech I came across a Catholic Cravings, a blog by Laura McCalister- to her apparently Ms. Watson wasn’t man-friendly enough, which I thought was interesting as it was the exact opposite reaction from Mia McKenzie. Anyway, I’m always curious to learn about different feminisms, and most Christian feminists (Catholic or Protestant) I come across tend to be more liberal, I found myself rather on the fence about whether she was still feminist or not.

Here’s her explanation/defense of why she’s a Catholic feminist. She discusses some of the problems she has with mainstream feminism, and what aspects of feminism she thinks can still be reconciled with traditional Roman Catholicism. I accept that you can be significantly more conservative than me about sexuality, marriage et al and still be a feminist, but then I read this post: I’m a Feminist Because I Love Patriarchy. So women should be treated well, within a patriarchal structure. Sorry, by definition that’s not feminist- benevolent “women-friendly” male-led society is not equality of the sexes. Then I read I’m a Feminist Because Being Female is Dangerous, and thought OK, well maybe she’s a feminist, but one with a viewpoint that fits in better in non-Western countries or another century? I’m not meaning to be condescending her, just trying to understand from my view. Maybe for her religious viewpoint she is being progressive, and is doing good to spread that view to people who otherwise might not listen to more conventional feminists?

As much as I try to behave myself when I venture onto conservative Christian blogs, my comments still usually get blocked, so for the record here’s what I posted:

While most Catholic feminists I’ve encountered are more liberal than yourself (less orthodox Catholics admittedly, but that’s not my place to judge) I believe there are many feminisms that arise from our cultural context, place in the kyriarchy (race/class/gender/ability et al) political, secular and religious philosophies. With regards to the abortion issue, I prefer to see myself as “pro-wanted children” and believe that society needs to place family (broadly defined) at the center, rather than the individual, and I would rather see people of different views on that issue work together to reduce the need/”demand” for abortion rather than fight over the legality of it. I know as a disabled feminist, it’s often tricky for me to express my more nuanced views on this, while my sisters defend “the right” to abort people like me, while insisting it’s “nothing personal”. I know that is at least one thing I have in common with Catholics, even if we disagree on many other things. BTW, I would recommend you check out the writings of Black feminists/womanists, many of them express views that differ from liberal white middle-class feminists, especially on issues of the body, sexuality etc. Here’s one: http://www.gradientlair.com/post/66858178658/womanism-black-feminism-essays

We’ll see if that goes thru, and if she responds. In the mean time- what do you think? Can you truly be feminist in a patriarchal structure, without really critiquing that structure, and just wanting men to be nicer and more chivalrous?

October 17, 2014 at 12:26 am 1 comment

Gender Equality: Why Heathens Can Do Better

Listen to/Watch this awesome speech by Emma Watson to the United Nations about the launch of a new campaign: He For She. Please signal boost the speech, rather than the nasty responses to it! This unique campaign seeks to end gender equality by boosting the support of men and boys for the movement. As Ms. Watson addresses, many people have mis-represented feminism as being about elevating women over men, and hating men. She refutes this and discusses the many ways patriarchal gender roles are damaging to both men and women. Ms. Watson’s message is for the whole world, but after seeing a link to it on a Heathen discussion forum, I couldn’t help thinking of how her message connected with Heathenry and Germanic (and Celtic) based values.

To give a little background for those who might reading this from feminist/social justice communities, Heathenry is an umbrella term for revivals of Germanic polytheism, with specific branches such as Asatru, Vanatru, Anglo-Saxon Heathenry and so forth. The Heathen community tends to be pretty distinct, spiritually and culturally from the broader category of Paganism, though the two sometimes do work together on projects for religious freedom, festivals and so forth. Due to the emphasis on the Goddess(es) and women as witches, the gender ratio among the general Pagan populace tends to skew more towards women, whereas due to the emphasis on macho Viking warriors, Heathens tend to have a gender ratio that skews male.

*spoiler alert* Emma Watson ends her speech the line- “Ask yourself- if not me, who? If not now, when?” This very much ties in with heroic morality. (Which is also expressed in the Harry Potter novels/movies!) This is not the idea that everyone can be a hero, but to at least strive in that direction.  We can all do our part to make the world a better place, and to be the best you can. I realize that there are many issues debated by feminists and advocates for gender equality that not all Heathens or Heathen organizations are going to agree on, even if we as a community choose to make gender equality more of a priority, both within our religion and in our broader societies. Still, I think there are some principles here that tie in well with broadly held Heathen values.

*Flexibility of gender roles “An Asatru man will not be ridiculed for running a household, nor will an Asatru woman be looked down upon for being the primary wage earner.” “Our ancestors were also able to acknowledge when exceptions needed to be made for men or women that were acting outside of the normal roles for their times. Women were known to go on raids as warriors, though rarely. Men were known to raise the children, and act as the frithweaver for the family, though not as commonly as women.”- The Standing of Heathen Women

*Industriousness- and fair rewards- Equal pay for equal work. For that matter, so much of the work women do is unpaid and not valued enough by society as “productive” work. Taking care of children, elderly and people with disabilities and doing housework are all worthy and important tasks. Let’s think about how can we change our view of this work so that it seen as more valuable, and both women and men who do it are better rewarded, and can get jobs that can support them, yet still allow for time to do these things.

*Access to education- Heathens like their book learning, and we want everyone to have access to knowledge and wisdom- men and women, boys and girls. Many of us are concerned about the role dominant religions play in our public schools, especially in the teaching of history, science and sex education.

*Respect for women’s bodies and sexuality (and men’s!) Clearly though we may joke about how awesome the Vikings were, we don’t consider their behavior acceptable. Stealing, destroying villages and raping women? Obviously those are not honorable actions! Personally I think we should have less of a focus on the idea of “rape culture” but rather, sexual violence and abuse in general, regardless of the genders of the perpetrators.  A major way in which men’s sexuality is distorted both by anti-feminists and some feminists is the implication that men cannot control their own sexual desires, that they are monsters that women and children should fear. We do not have the idea of shame of the body and of sexual pleasure that other religions sometimes do. We believe in enjoying (responsibly!) all that life has to offer.

*Openness to Intuition & Emotion (this is my own addition, though somewhat alluded to in the speech)

Asatru fora often sound suspiciously like Christian fundamentalists have invaded, except people are arguing by hurling lines from different sagas at each other to support or refute a point rather than Bible verses. Women are definitely guilty of this too, but the general tone of this sort of debate is that of a macho, intellectual pissing contest. Sorry, boys. Faith isn’t logical. Certainly logic and critical thinking are important tools in scholarship and philosophy. One thing to note is that we have much less lore available about our goddesses, and roles of women in our religion. Having a more open-minded attitude about personal revelation (UPG- seriously we need a better term, folks!) can help our religion regain gender balance.

*Postscript- After writing most of this post, I read several criticisms of Ms. Watson’s speech by Black feminists and others who have pointed out its lack of intersectionality, implications of heteronormativity and being less than forthcoming about the fact that men benefit from patriarchy, it isn’t just this Bad Thing that makes them hide their feelings etc. I definitely now see the limitations, and we can certainly call into question how relevant her message was for the entire planet in the way she framed it.  However, when you are pulling your hair out as a white woman trying to teach Feminism 101* in a white male dominated subculture like Heathenry, many geek communities, the atheist/skeptic/humanist communities, her speech seems to be a good vehicle to get some important messages across. (*and anti-Racism 101, Trans 101, Ableism 101…)

References:

Speech by Emma Watson to UN General Assembly

The Pentagram and the Hammer– a comparison of Wicca & Asatru

The Standing of Heathen Women– Heathen Kinship of Houston

Why I’m Not Really Here for Emma Watson’s Speech on Feminism at the U.N. by Mia McKenzie- I will admit, I had to read this essay more than once to really “get it”, and I’m still working on “getting it” in a broader sense…

October 16, 2014 at 3:49 am 1 comment

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