Not too long ago I heard someone deride members of a seminar who were building labyrinths in the olive groves of Greece as “a bunch of tree-huggers.” I bristled! I probably first heard of the Chipko tree-hugging movement which is led by women in the 1970s and 1980s. Because I love nature, I naturally assumed hugging trees is a good thing. Originally, I had no idea that the tree-hugging movement was about much more than saving trees from being felled in the interests of short-term profit.
I did not know that the deeper purpose of the movement is to save a way of life based on forest-culture that is being threatened by the imposition of western ideas and practices promoted by colonialism and its successor, the green revolution. Nor did I know that the traditional forest-culture of India is the provenance of women: more than 4000 years of observing and experimenting created a “women’s knowledge” passed down from mother to daughter.
This week’s news from America. Where to begin? When will it end?
The President of the United States is a racist who incites racist violence. Republicans have been slow to condemn the President and are not likely to pass a complete ban on assault weapons and to make those currently in circulation illegal.
After reading a speech condemning hate speech and gun violence that he obviously didn’t write, the President scheduled a round-up of brown people working in chicken-packing factories in Mississippi to coincide with his unsympathetic visits to the cities of Dayton and El Paso, where two recent mass killings by assault weapons occurred. The next morning, we were greeted by images of little children coming home from school in small towns in Mississippi to find their parents missing. We were told that none of the surviving victims of the El Paso shooting wanted to meet the President.
This is not the America I want. But it is the America that many Americans seem to want. I would like to think that women as a group reject the President and his agenda. Sadly, this is not true.
The leaves have finally begun to turn. I’ve been longing for the trees to reveal their true beauty in all their colorful array, and am glad for this beginning. Soon the woods will be filled with the golden, amber, scarlet, and orange glow of the maples, aspen, birch, and oaks of the northern forest.
It is the time of year I would take my Women and Spirituality students to a sacred spot on a ridge high above Lake Superior to explore their spiritual connections with the earth. They would share a particular way they felt a connection to the natural world – often a lake, or a place from their childhood, a tree they loved to climb, their dog, or a stone they carried. We would circle the large pine and invoke Starhawk’s “Open-Eyed Grounding” practice.[i] They would read and comment on their favorite passages from the readings – selections from Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature and Carol Christ’s “Rethinking Theology and Nature.”[ii] Then they would disperse across the ridge for their solo encounters with nature, before gathering together again, each returning with something they had discovered during that time. Then we would talk about the changing colors of the leaves surrounding us and talk about how these were the true colors of the leaves, finally emerging now that the chlorophyll that had disguised them in green was beginning to wane. Taking our cue from the leaves, we would talk about authenticity – about their coming into their own true colors. For that is the work of spiritual growth and transformation — to emerge as our own true selves. Yet, how often our unique and precious beings are taught to mask our true color, blend in — be “green” like everyone else. What a vivid and beautiful world when we come into our own and share our unique gifts and being with the world.
Prehistoric and indigenous religious traditions are often disparagingly mischaracterized as primitive fertility religions, concerned not with higher morality, but rather with the processes of reproduction of humans, animals, and plants. When these religions feature a Great Mother Goddess, it may be assumed that these religions are primarily focused on birthing human babies. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Indeed, archaeologist Marija Gimbutas discovered that in the symbol systems of Old Europe, the Goddess is only rarely imaged as pregnant or giving birth. Nor is She portrayed solely in human form. Rather, She is portrayed with a bird head, wings, and a plethora of other animal and plant features. If She is a Great Mother Goddess, She is revered as the Source of Life, not simply as a mother of human babies. Gimbutas states that in Old Europe the Goddess was worshiped in as a symbol of the powers of birth, death, and regeneration in all of life. Gimbutas said these societies were matrilineal and probably matrilocal. Recent research into matrilineal and matrilocal egalitarian matriarchies provides insight into the values of prehistoric societies. The Minangkabau of West Sumatra, Indonesia are matrilineal and matrilocal, with family ties being traced through the mother line and land being held communally and in perpetuity by the maternal clan. Though the Minangkabau trace their ancestry through their mothers and grandmothers, it is important to note that, as Peggy Reeves Sanday discusses in Women at the Center, it is not birth or the ability to give birth that is celebrated as the highest value, but rather the nurturing of the weak and the vulnerable.
I contend therefore that we have allowed these chemicals to be used with little or no advanced investigation of their effect on soil, water, wildlife and man himself. Future generations are unlikely to condone our lack of prudent concern for the integrity of the natural world that supports all life. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Wangari Maathai
I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. Greta Thunberg
We are calling all women and our allies to come together to save the earth that sustains us all. Is it any wonder that from Rachel Carson to Wangari Maathai to the emerging young leader Greta Thunberg, women have been in the forefront of environmental movements for a century? As daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and aunts, we have long cared and advocated for the most vulnerable among us, the very young, the very old, the disabled, those who are the first to suffer the consequences of climate catastrophe and the many kinds of pollution that are poisoning the earth we share.
If theology is rooted in experience, how do we move from experience to theology? In my life there have been a number of key moments of “revelation” that have shaped my thealogy. One of these was the moment of my mother’s death.
In 1991 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. While she was being treated, I realized that I had never loved anyone as much as I loved her. When I wrote that to her, she responded that “this was the nicest letter” she “had ever received” in her life and she invited me to come home to be with her and my Dad.
My mother died only a few weeks after I arrived, in her own bed as she wished. She was on an oxygen machine, and I heard her call out in the dark of early morning. When my Dad got to the room, he tried to turn up the oxygen, but it didn’t help. Then he called the doctor who reminded him that my mother did not want to go to the hospital under any circumstances.
we need a god who bleeds now a god whose wounds are not some small male vengeance some pitiful concession to humility a desert swept with dryin marrow in honor of the lord
we need a god who bleeds spreads her lunar vulva & showers us in shades of scarlet thick & warm like the breath of her our mothers tearing to let us in this place breaks open like our mothers bleeding the planet is heaving mourning our ignorance the moon tugs the seas to hold her/to hold her embrace swelling hills/i am not wounded i am bleeding to life
we need a god who bleeds now whose wounds are not the end of anything
When I was in my twenties and in therapy I had a recurrent dream in whicha strange man was chasing me and caught up with me and started to strangle me and I could not scream. I was asked to act this dream out by my therapist, who told me that this time I would scream. I could not. She got up and came over and put her hands around my neck and started to squeeze. I still could not scream.
Two decades later I had a dream in which I was a baby and suffocating in my crib. I asked my current therapist if she thought someone had tried to suffocate me when I was an infant. Her answer was simple: “There is no need to think about this happening when you were an infant. You have been silenced all your life.”
When I was a child, my father used to punish us by taking off his belt, sitting down, asking us to pull down our pants and lie across his lap, and then lashing our bare bottoms with his belt. This was typical child-rearing practice in the 1950s and 1960s. Rita Nakashima Brock was the first to name it for me as child abuse. Nonetheless, when we got older, my brother and I preferred to be spanked, rather than to have our 25 cents a week allowance taken away from us. At least, we thought, being spanked was over in a minute, while losing your allowance was something you would suffer for a long time.
Sometimes we think of Greek myth as a pre-patriarchal or less patriarchal alternative to the stories of the Bible. After all, Goddesses appear in Greek myths while they are nearly absent from the Bible. Right?
So far so good, but when we look more closely we can see that Greek myth enshrines patriarchal ideology just as surely as the Bible does. We are so dazzled by the stories told by the Greeks that we designate them “the origin” of culture. We also have been taught that Greek myths contain “eternal archetypes” of the psyche. I hope the brief “deconstruction” of the myth of Ariadne which follows will begin to “deconstruct” these views as well.
Ariadne is a pre-Greek word. The “ne” ending is not found in Greek. As the name is attributed to a princess in Greek myth, we might speculate that Ariadne could have been one of the names of the Goddess in ancient Crete. But in Greek myth Ariadne is cast in a drama in which she is a decidedly unattractive heroine.
Moderator’s Note: The blog was originally posted May 18, 2015
A friend who is a spiritual teacher speaks often “bringing back the values associated with the Divine Feminine.” For her this has to do with helping women to understand the beauty of our bodies and the importance of ways of being such as giving and caring for others that have been associated with the undervalued so-called “feminine” side of the masculine-feminine polarity. Though she also speaks about the Goddess, I think she prefers the term “the Divine Feminine” because of the implication that men too have their “Divine Masculine.”
This friend has a wonderful husband who is a teacher in his own right and who often ends up spending a lot of his time among powerful women who enjoy talking about the Goddess. In these conversations he sometimes speaks of the need for men to “recover the Divine Masculine” if they are to become whole.
Moderator’s Note: The was originally posted on January 20, 2014
Last week I reflected on Angela Yarber’s insightful essay and painting on Jephthah’s daughter. For those who did not read the earlier posts, the story of Jephthah’s daughter is found in the Hebrew Bible. Jephthah’s daughter was sacrificed by her father after he swore in the heat of battle that if his side won, he would sacrifice the first person he would see on returning home. Angela called us to reflect on who Jephthah’s daughter is in our time.
On the recent Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, I visited the Historical Museum in Heraklion where I saw a beautiful embroidered silk panel of a mermaid identified only as having come from Koustogerako, a village in western Crete. As it is unlikely that a man in a Cretan village would have been talented in embroidery, in this case “Anonymous” most definitely “was a woman.”
In this thread painting a mermaid surrounded by fish is holding the anchor of a ship in one hand and a fish in the other. In Greece the mermaid is the protectress of sailors. In a well-known legend, a mermaid said to be the sister of Alexander the Great, emerges from the sea in front of a ship during a storm and asks: “Is Alexander the Great still living?” If the sailors answer, “Yes, he lives and reigns,” the ship is saved.
“Our Father who art in Heaven” becomes “Our Mother whose body is the Earth.” Transcendence of the earth and the body are replaced with immanence, suggesting that the earth and the body are good. Our mothers’ bodies are the source of our lives. Our Mother’s body is the Source of all life on our planet. The earth as the body of the Mother is a very ancient conception. Process philosopher Charles Hartshorne says that the earth as the divine body is the best rational model for understanding the intimate relationship of God to the world.
We have been taught to speak of war and the heroes of war in hushed tones. We have been told that evil Helen’s choice was the cause of the Trojan war. 2600 years ago Sappho, known as the greatest lyric poet of ancient Greece, spoke truth to power and unmasked the lies told at the beginning of western tradition.
In a poem addressed to Anactoria, Sappho writes:
Some say a cavalry corps some say infantry, some, again, will maintain that the swift oars of our fleet are the finest sight on dark earth …
Here, Sappho invokes the heroic tradition celebrated in the epic poems of Homer that shaped the values of ancient Greek culture and all the cultures that followed it, including our own. This tradition tells us that to serve in a war and to be remembered as a hero is the highest goal to which a man can aspire. Sappho does not agree:
“thea-logy begins in experience” – Rebirth of the Goddess
It is hard to believe that Carol P. Christ – Karolina as she dubbed herself in her beloved Greece—has been gone for a year. She remains such a vivid presence in my life—in all of our lives. I think of her and draw strength from those thoughts daily, the way so many women say they think of and feel close to their deceased mothers. For Karolina was indeed a mother to me—a nurturing spiritual mother who initiated me into the ways of the Goddess she adored and, whom she so beautifully defined as “the power of intelligent love that is the ground of all being.”
I first met Karolina in June of 1995 on a bare hotel rooftop in Athens. I had just flown there from New Orleans to join the Ariadne Institute’s Goddess Pilgrimage Tour, a leap of faith inspired by my reading the previous year of Weaving the Visions: Patterns in Feminist Spirituality, a pioneering anthology edited by Carol and her long-time friend and collaborator, Judith Plaskow. That book, along with Carol’s Diving Deep and Surfacing and Judith’s Standing Again at Sinai had spoken to me more deeply than anything I had ever read before. I had grown up in a Middle Eastern Orthodox Jewish family. drawn to spirituality, I had never able to find a place for myself in the deeply patriarchal structures of synagogue or even family rituals … Carol and Judith offered me a way in, and I wanted immediately to embark on the paths they were clearing. I wanted to meet them, to know them, to learn from them, to share with them. Boldly, I decided to join the Pilgrimage, signing up for my first trip overseas trip, the most costly vacation I had ever granted myself. How could I have known that it would transform my life and bless me with a miraculous, deep friendship?
This blog was originally posted on December 1, 2014
The image from an ancient Cretan bowl (c.1700 BCE) from the Sacred Center of Phaistos pictured here has often been interpreted as an early depiction of Persephone’s descent or rising. But are clues from later Greek mythology pointing in the right direction in this case?
Recently, my colleague Mika Scott posted the Phaistos bowl image on our Goddess Pilgrimage Facebook site in conjunction with the bee pendant from Mallia. This juxtaposition led me to think again about the importance of bees and pollination in agricultural societies and to offer an alternative reading of the symbolism on the bowl.
Moderator’s Note: This was originally posted on September 19, 2016
Max Dashu’s Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion 700-1000challenges the assumption that Europe was fully Christianized within a few short centuries as traditional historians tell us. Most of us were taught not only that Europe became Christian very rapidly, but also that Europeans were more than willing to adopt a new religion that was “superior” to “paganism” in every way. Careful readers of Dashu’s important new work will be challenged to revise their views. When the full 15 volumes of the projected series are in print, historians may be forced to hang their heads in shame. This of course assumes that scholars will read Dashu’s work. More likely they will ignore or dismiss it, but sooner or later–I dare to hope–the truth will out.
History has been written by the victors—in the case of Europe by elite Christian men. These men may have wanted to believe that their views were widely held, but Dashu suggests that they were not. Combing artistic and archaeological records, Dashu finds (to give one example) that images of Mother Earth nursing a snake are far from uncommon and can even be found as illustrations in Christian documents and on Christian monuments. Clerics rage against people—particularly women–who continue to visit holy wells and sacred trees and to practice divination and healing rituals invoking pagan powers. To paraphrase Shakespeare: “Methinks the cleric doth protest too much.” Were these things not happening and happening often, there would have been no need to condemn them. Using these clues, Dashu provides intriguing new readings of the Poetic Edda and Norse sagas.
I remember a poignant conversation with my sister when our children were young. Our biggest fear at the time? How would we ever manage if one (or several) of our children refused to speak to us as they grew into young adulthood? Stories swirled around our social circles about a son or daughter who wanted nothing to do with their family of origin. These estranged children frequently put physical distance between themselves and their parents.
That fear eventually became my reality. I despaired.
Like many parents, I lacked experience and maturity while raising my children. I didn’t have the wisdom to understand, trust, and apply the message of the Lebanese-American writer/poet, Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931). Had I done so, not only would I have avoided a lot of grief, but my children would probably have had an easier transition from childhood towards independent adulthood.
For every American concerned with Civil Rights this indeed is a sad day. It means states and municipalities—particularly those in the former Confederacy—will in the days following the decision be introducing new legislation which will have the effect of disenfranchising black voters. Those of us who consider the right to vote fundamental in a democracy must rise up, with time, with money, and if necessary with our bodies in peaceful protest.
As a graduate student, I was told in every way possible that I could not be a woman and a theologian.
When I was studying for my Ph.D. at Yale in theology in the late 1960s and early 1970s, my skirts were short as was the fashion of the day. The male faculty and students and their wives dressed in ways that would not call attention to themselves or their sexuality. I was also over 6’ tall. When I walked into a room, I was consciously and unconsciously perceived as a threat to a world which these men had simply assumed was “theirs.” Their response was to categorize me as a sexual being (I was once introduced as “our department bunny”) and to erase my mind. I was to discover that the male graduate students were making bets in the dining hall about “where she will sit today.” One of my friends frequently fell down and feigned to “worship” me when I passed him in the hallways. I had never received so much attention from men before and it was flattering.
Child abuse does not have to be physical or sexual. The most widespread forms of child abuse are psychological, and therefore harder to see, acknowledge, and eradicate. As abused children, we unconsciously pass on patterns of abuse visited on us to children, and to others we have power over including students, employees, and even friends and lovers.
The recent visit of a friend who is suffering greatly in a “battle” with her own “demons” reminded me of the important work of Alice Miller. My friend’s “demons” take the form of a persistent self-criticism laced with the feeling that “if only” she did or didn’t do certain things, her world would fall into place. My “demons” generally take a different form, telling me that I am helpless and that there is nothing I can do to ease my suffering.
Such “demons” were not implanted in my friend and me by the devil. They took root in interactions with our own parents, who were not themselves any different from most of the parents of their time and place. Recognizing that our parents were not “bad” people should not blind us to the great harm they did to us. However, when abused children speak of their abuse, the statement that their parents did not intend to harm them usually functions to deflect attention away from child abuse that really did occur. What happened to my friend and me was something like this. In many small and perhaps also a few traumatic interactions, we learned that our feelings do not count. “Don’t talk now, your father is tired.” “Stop making so much noise, your father has a headache.” “Don’t ask your mother for attention, can’t you see that she has more than enough to do with your younger brother.” Harmless in themselves, such messages, when repeated over and over, lead the child to believe that there must be something wrong with the feelings she has.
In my last blog I wrote that the image of God as a dominating other who enforces his will through violence–found in the Bible and in the Christian tradition up to the present day–is one of the reasons I do not choose to work within the Christian tradition. To be fair, there is another image of God in Christian tradition that I continue to embrace. “Love divine, all loves excelling” is the opening line of a well-known hymn by Charles Wesley. Charles Hartshorne invoked these words and by implication the melody with which they are sung as expressing the feelings at the heart of the understanding of God that he wrote about in The Divine Relativity.
Love divine, all loves excelling also expresses my understanding of Goddess or as I sometimes write Goddess/God. Though I am no longer a Christian, but rather an earth-based Goddess feminist, I freely admit that I learned about the love of God while singing in Christian churches. Hartshorne wrote that he knew the love of God best through the love of his own mother, and I can say that this is true for me as well. My mother was not perfect, and she did not understand why I wanted to go to graduate school, my feminism, or my adult political views, but I never doubted her love or my grandmothers’ love for me. (I count myself lucky. I know others did not have this experience.) Like Hartshorne, I also learned about the love of God through the world that I always understood to be God’s body. Running in fields and hills, swimming in the sea, standing under redwood trees, and encountering peacocks in my grandmother’s garden, I felt connected to a power greater than myself.
In my widely read blog and academic essay offering a new definition of patriarchy, I argued that patriarchy is a system of male dominance that arose at the intersection of the control of female sexuality, private property, and war. In it, bracketed the question of how patriarchy began. Today I want to share some thoughts provoked by a short paragraph in Harald Haarmann’s ground-breaking Roots of Ancient Greek Civilization. Haarmann briefly mentions (but does not discuss) the hypothesis that patriarchy arose among the steppe pastoralists as a result of conflicts over grazing lands. As these conflicts became increasingly violent, patriarchal warriors assumed clan leadership in order to protect animal herds, grazing lands, and the women and children of the clan.
On the recent Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, while we were driving through sparsely populated grazing land, my friend Cristina remarked that the shepherds on foot wearing traditional clothing that she had seen several decades earlier had been replaced by men in shirts and jeans, driving farm trucks. Her nostalgic reverie was interrupted by our young Cretan bus driver who said, “You would not want to be alone with one of those men, not now and certainly not then.”
When we seek immortality or spiritual “rebirth,” are we not saying that there is something wrong with the “birth” that was given to us through the body of our mothers? In She Who Changes and in “Reading Plato’s Allegory of the Cave as Matricide and Theacide,” I asserted that our culture is “matricidal” because it is based on the assumption that life in the body in this world “just isn’t good enough.”
What is so wrong with the life that our mothers gave us that we must reject it in the name of a “higher” spiritual life? The answer of course death.
Can we love life without accepting death?
Can we love our mothers if we do not accept a life that ends in death?
Jesus was said to have encouraged his disciples to leave their wives and families in order to follow him. When he was told that his mother and brothers were outside and waiting to speak to him, he is said to have said:
“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matt. 12:48-50)
I am pissed! I wrote this blogpost the day after Beltane when the leaked draft of the Supreme Court majority opinion regarding Roe v. Wade was leaked to the public. I was up anyway feeling the effects of PTSD. Lessons that Carol P. Christ wrote about and brought to my own consciousness were rattling around my head. The first is her definition of patriarchy: “patriarchy is a system of male domination in which men dominate women through the control of female sexuality with the intent of passing property to male heirs.” This definition was part of a 3-part series she wrote (and we recently re-posed in her legacy posts) beginning here.
They are all well worth reading.
I was raped in 1977 when I was 22 years old. This after being abused by my father. I never got pregnant, but I was suicidal after the rape. Had I been pregnant without recourse to ending it, I would without a doubt have stabbed myself in the stomach or reached for that metal coat hanger. (I was too young to face pregnancy when my father abused me.) Had the result been my own death, that would have been warmly welcomed on my part. To this day, I still self-mutilate at times when stress becomes too much.
This post was originally posted on February 5, 2018
The symbol of the Goddess is as old as human history. The most ancient images of the Goddesses from the Paleolithic era are neither pregnant nor holding a child. In Neolithic Old Europe the Goddess was most commonly linked with birds or snakes and only rarely portrayed as mother. Yet we tend to equate the Goddess with the Mother Goddess. I suspect that images of the Virgin Mary with Jesus on her lap and prayers to God as Father have fused in our minds, leading us to think that the Goddess must be a Mother Goddess and primarily a Mother.
In a recent blog, Christy Croft reminded us that in our culture, women’s experiences of mothering and motherhood are not always positive:
[The mother] doesn’t always appear in our stories in simple or easy ways. Some of us mother children we did not or could not grow in our bodies; some of us birth babies who are now mothered by others. Some of us are not mothers at all. Some of us had mothers who could not love us unconditionally, or did not have mothers in our lives, or had mothers who brought us more pain and humiliation than comfort, from whose effects we are still recovering, are still healing.
Marija Gimbutas coined the term “Old Europe” c.6500-3500 BCE to describe peaceful, sedentary, artistic, matrifocal, matrilineal and probably matrilocal agricultural societies that worshipped the Goddess as the power of birth, death, and regeneration in all of life. Gimbutas argued that Old Europe was overthrown by Indo-European speaking invaders who began to enter Europe from the steppes north of the Black Sea beginning about 4400 BCE. The Indo-Europeans were patrilineal and patriarchal, mobile and warlike, having domesticated the horse, were not highly artistic and worshiped the shining Gods of the sky reflected in their bronze weapons.
In the fields of classics and archaeology, Gimbutas’s work is often dismissed as nothing more than a fantasy of a “golden age.” In contrast, scholars of Indo-European languages, Gimbutas’s original specialty, are much more likely to accept the general outlines of her hypothesis. The German linguist and cultural scientist Harald Haarmann is one of them.
This blog was originally posted on April 13, 2015. You can read the original comments here.
For many years I been told of the beautiful Hymn of Kassiani, sung only on Easter Tuesday night, but I had never heard it until this week. For many this song is the high point of Easter week.
Kassiani, also known as St. Kassia, was a Greek woman born into a wealthy family in Constantinople (now Istanbul) about 805 to 810 AD. According to three historians of the time, she was intelligent and beautiful and selected as a potential bride for the Emperor Theophilos. The chroniclers state that the Theophilos approached her and said: “Through woman, the worst,” referring to the sin of Eve. Clever Kassiani responded, “Through woman, the best,” referring to the birth of the Savior through Mary.
Apparently unable to accept being put in his place by a woman, Theophilos chose another bride. Kassiani founded a monastery in Constantinople becoming its first abbess. She was an outspoken theological advocate of icons during the iconoclastic crisis (for which she was flogged). One of only two women to publish under her own name during the Byzantine Middle Ages, Kassiani wrote both poetry and hymns. Up to 50 of her hymns are known today, with 23 of them being part of the Greek Orthodox liturgy
This blog was originally posted on November 6. 2017. You can read the original comments here.
Trigger warning: this post describes sexual abuse
Last week while responding to a comment on my blog, I suddenly remembered a series of incidents in which men I did not know exposed themselves to me in public places. The first time occurred at a park around dusk during an outing with a group of girls. I was about 11, I may have wandered away from the group, or I may have been with others. What I remember is seeing a man with his pants down sitting on a park bench, possibly the first time I ever saw an adult man’s penis. I told or we told, but the man was not reported by the adults. Fast forward to the beautiful gardens of the Palace Schoenbrunn in Vienna where I was confronted by a penis while lost in thought when I was 19. I ran, but said nothing. In my 20s at the early showing of movies in New York City men would sit next to me and jerk off into paper bags. I learned to move whenever a man was near me in the theater, but I never told the ticket seller. A few years later, I crossed paths with a man who had his penis out on my favorite walk in the hills of Alum Rock Park in San Jose. I never walked carefree in that park again. When I was looking for the cave of the Furies on the Acropolis Hill in Athens, a man followed me waving his penis. I told the guard, but when the police came, he was gone. I arrived home in distress. My boyfriend said I was over-reacting. I learned to stay clear of men in cars on the streets of Athens at night after seeing things I did not want to see more than once in their hands. I coded this behavior as part of the background of my life. There was a man who from the basement apartment a few doors up from the Cycladic Museum pressed his erect penis against the window. I told the guard at the museum who said, “We have called the police more than once, but he always cries, and they let him go.” On a trail I had walked many times with my dogs near Lafionas in Lesbos, coming around a bend, I encountered a young farmer, who as soon as he saw me, pulled out his penis and urinated against a fence. That was the last time I walked the trail. We are supposed to learn to consider this behavior as well, if not normal, anyway, not such a big deal. After all, I wasn’t hurt, or was I?