Friday, March 16, 2012

PBP 07: Fertility (And how it's kinda exclusive)

(Photo of fish eggs from gold-fish)

You'll notice this blog is quickly becoming a blog discussing social issues and sexism in pagan practice as way as a philosophical exploration of my path and changing thoughts. It only goes downhill from here.

This post may very likely come out of left field for many readers. But that said, in full "Duskenpath" ranting tradition, I don't give a single blessed fuck about fertility.

Let me explain to you why.

I identify as a demisexual, (under the umbrella Asexual, meaning I lack the ability to feel physical or sexual attraction until I love someone, and then only feel it for them alone) a lesbian, a cis-woman with a deep rooted and pathological fear of pregnancy and child-birthing I have harbored since I was a child (past life issues, long story) and a profound dislike of children. (Not to get graphic but pregnancy is literally a nightmare scenario for me where the psychological trauma would be so bad I can't know what would happen to me.) To be fair I also profoundly dislike a lot of people, but the younger people get the less likely I am to enjoy them.

I'm really useless with kids too, to tell the truth. I just don't really know how to talk to them or what to talk about, so I generally get uneasy left in their presence too long. I'm just not built for kids.

And you know what? I recognize that, and I state that I am pagan, and don't want kids, fear pregnancy, and abhor the entire idea my body is capable of harboring a living...thing...inside it, and I think that's okay.

Even when I was trying really hard to be Wiccan, my feminism just would not settle its pesky self down and allow me to look past the implicit gender roles inherent in the typical depictions of God/Dess--woman as reduced to her ability to get pregnant and mother children, man as reduced to his seed and strength and hunting skills. [LET ME BE CLEAR HERE: Feminism, in its real definition, means being against INEQUALITY TOWARDS EVERY GENDER/SEX/ANYTHANG. A real feminist cares just as much about hurtful roles directed as men as women. Just so we're good here.] It just seemed archaic, and furthermore alienating to me, an Ace Lesbian who often identifies with neither gender role specifically, just by virtue of clearly catering to a single idea. I didn't understand (and still don't) how I could be expected to relate to a paradigm that implicitly focused on procreative (heterosexual) fertility when I did not want to procreate, have hetero sex or give a blessed fuck about fertility in my own life.

I feel like this isn't often addressed in terms of feminism, but a lot of Pagan gods acted in severely sexist ways, which further supports my thesis society creates Deity in their image to justify their actions against others. Since I don't see Deity as inherently good or all-knowing or wise in all cases, I hold them to an Ethical lens. If a deity is acting in a fashion I consider sexist (and I have met some especially from the Greek side, yes) I refuse to speak to them in most cases. If I am shown any disrespect in terms of ethics our relationship is over (and they are reciprocal). I don't consider being a higher being an excuse for being an asshole. (And neither will a higher being in most cases) Okay, sidenote. More on Deital ethics later.

I think, looking at the origins of Old School paganism, it shouldn't be surprising archaic gender roles are perpetuated through religion and Deity. (Look at examples in Greek mythos: strong female figures were often punished or otherwise put down by the Proper In Charge Male Deity, and this was often through sexual (rape culture) means. This reflected the status of Greek women in society at the time and gave an "example" for why husbands could dominate their households.) I don't need to mention the systematic oppression of women in the texts of other major religions either, right? I understand Paganism generally tries to celebrate being a woman and women's sexuality (and men's sexuality too, and that's important as hell) but even by adopting the idea of maiden/mother/crone we are basically saying a woman's life stages are caused by the presence of children and the utilizing of her uterus, and some of us don't ever want to utilize that part of our anatomy, so it's still kind of odd.

I'm also of the Chaos Magick opinion we create Deity in our own image and that does not make them less powerful or great than if it was the other way around. I hold this to explain why most Deities are portrayed in a hetero, procreative, and often sexist stance, as that was and still is the majority for many people on this planet. (If it was my decision the world's deities would be raging, childless lesbians and gay men, trans included, that do nothing but read fine literature all day, travel the world in matching outfits and take long vacations on the beach--but hey, it's not my world.)

My previous post on the falsity of duality also explains how I feel about a male/female dichotomy at all. I think it's archaic, exclusive to many and used too often as a 'default' by virtue of being in the majority. I won't subscribe to a paradigm I find no evidence for and no way to relate to as I don't believe in "male" and "female"-ness, whether that be energy or whatever else. I believe in "people"-ness. I think we need to drop the entire notion

I also get quasi-offended when people claim that even a lesbian couple can relate to said paradigm because "you have elements of male-ness and female-ness in you too." Please see my previous post on how I feel about duality. The long and short of it is I don't believe 'male' and 'female' energy exists because by separating them into gender roles I feel we are perpetuating sexist ideas of what men and women 'are'. So you can guess how I feel about that.

At the same time I think gay men and women who identify with fertility tradition can certainly get something out of it, provided they're okay with the male/female energy idea. And fuck yeah if it works for you. But in true Duskenpath tradition I'm expressing an opinion that I see little analyzed for the sake of brain noms.

In terms of 'earth's fertility' and celebrating that, when I do celebrate Spring holidays it's the first thaw and the Solstice. I don't seek to mirror 'earth's fertility' with any sort of ritual because fertility is simply not important to me. Life is, and I separate that from physical fertility, possibly because I spend too much time on the Astral, where life is not created with physicality (sexual acts) but with energy. I am more okay with the idea of two distinct energy signatures joining to create something new (and neither of those energies is necessarily gendered, astrally speaking) than I am celebrating something that means nothing to me. (heterosexual sexuality)

My point with this is to make people think about what fertility in the traditional sense or as a defining point or purpose means to those who are incapable of replicating it. What of an infertile man or woman, or a woman like me who is arguably a little gender dysphoric? Fertility doesn't have to be a part of pagan practice. If it is, all power to you. But it should never be used to exclude or define others, or we become no different than women and men in more extreme traditions that good people birth little soldiers for god and that defines your life. Always think about those who do not fit into a socially accepted paradigm.



    In other words, rock on my friend. <3

  2. You make some excellent points here... I also loathe dependance or insistance on duality. The thing I learned about "fertility" when I went of chemical birth control and implemented natural methods - fertility awareness and an understanding of preventing implantation - I learned that fertility is just as much about preventing pregnancy as it is about getting pregnant, and even more than that, about understanding a body's cycles internally regardless of the external factors imposed.

    I find that working with deities of somatic experience as individual archetypes, rather than faces of some Ultimate Duality, to be helpful in understanding that many women are fertile whether they are in heterosexual relationships with potential for pregnancy or not. The human body goes through these cycles all on its on, no sperm needed. The fertile feminine goddess is fertile with our without her god. Perhaps this is the true meaning behind mythological Virgin births?

    1. I found this response very thought provoking on the topic of virgin birth. A fascinating theory that I think is extremely valid and requires more research on my part...

  3. I can appreciate the fact that you don't want children. In fact, I still don't like children, except my own. I feel incredibly awkward around people's kids. I never wanted children either, at first. Only recently, like 2 yrs ago, has my biological clock started ticking. It's my understanding that broadly speaking, paganism is a fertility religion but your path is no less valid without it.

  4. I totally wrote about this a couple weeks back, but not with nearly as much clarity and vehemence - but after reading your post, I find that I'm in complete agreement with you.

    To the above poster, paganism is certainly NOT a fertility religion, although most branches of it are.

    1. Agreed, Paganism as a whole is not a fertility religion though many branches focus heavily on it.

      My branch specifically is actually focused much more on environmental protection/healing/animal workings and death than anything. (it's frankly not even very "deity-centric")

      I'm glad others share my views. I always think when I post things like this I better batten down the hatches but I get consistently proven wrong. Hmmmm...

  5. I can very well see your point of view, looking at it from the point of view of an "older" mum who dealt with fertility issues for many years before getting pregnant. If who and what I am is reduced to my ability to procreate, what am I if I cannot?

    Conversations with various Gods have shown me that gender is something we place upon Them, not something They place upon Themselves.

    1. I agree with your assessment, which is why I reject duality and gender association :) The higher in the realms you get the less things resemble much of anything except light forms...