Masculine: Aggressive/Feminine: Passive: Can We Imagine Alternatives? by Carol P. Christ

Today a couple of friends and I were discussing egalitarian matriarchal values. I stated that in these societies there is no great difference in male and female personalities because both males and females are expected to be as kind and loving and generous as their own mothers. “Oh no I would not want that,” the other woman responded. “I want my man to be masculine–not wishy washy or namby pamby.” This woman soon acknowledged that she did not want her man to be dominant or aggressive. Yet her first reaction was to reject the idea that men might do well to emulate the values of their mothers.

This conversation illustrates the difficulty we have in conceiving alternatives to the way we assign gender roles. Masculine: assertive and aggressive. Feminine: weak and passive.

In fact. being as kind, loving, and generous as mothers in egalitarian matriarchies has nothing to do with these familiar gender binaries. Mothers in egalitarian matriarchies are assertive, but not aggressive, and there is nothing weak or passive about them. Love, kindness, and generosity are not about standing back and letting others walk over you. Instead they are active values that require intelligence, reflection, and strength. Continue reading “Masculine: Aggressive/Feminine: Passive: Can We Imagine Alternatives? by Carol P. Christ”

The Adjectives We Use by Deanne Quarrie

Deanne QuarrieAs a practicing witch, feminist, energy worker and a student of life, I am often puzzled as to why, in this day and age, we continue using the terms “masculine” and “feminine” as descriptive modifiers. What exactly does it mean when we call an energy masculine or feminine, anyway?  While I understand that these are descriptors that generally address what are typical characteristics – why do we insist on being so vague, misunderstood and perhaps even, insulting, depending on who we are speaking to?  Continue reading “The Adjectives We Use by Deanne Quarrie”

Essentialism Reconsidered by Carol P. Christ

carol mitzi sarahIn my Ecofeminism class we have been discussing essentialism because some feminists have alleged that other feminists, particularly ecofeminists and Goddess feminists, are “essentialists.” They argue that essentialist views reinforce traditional stereotypes including those that designate men as rational and women as emotional. I too find essentialism problematic, but I do not agree that Goddess feminism and ecofeminism are intrinsically essentialist.

Goddess feminists and ecofeminists criticize classical dualism: the traditions of  thinking that value reason over emotion and feeling, male over female, man over nature. We argued that the western rational tradition sowed the seeds of the environmental crisis when it separated “man” from “nature.”

Goddess feminists and ecofeminists affirm the connections between women and nature in an environmental worldview that acknowledges the interconnection of all beings in the web of life.

This view has been criticized as essentialist. Is it? Continue reading “Essentialism Reconsidered by Carol P. Christ”

Why Not ‘Feminine Divine’? by Judith Laura

It twists my gut like an intestinal bug when people use the term “feminine divine” or “divine feminine” when what is meant is female deity. I keep thinking that like many gut bugs, it might just go away on its own—but no such luck.

Here’s how I see the history, the herstory, of this linguistic corruption. From what I remember, “divine feminine” (or “feminine divine” or “sacred feminine”) came into usage sometime in the 1980s by people, some of them authors, who wanted to refer to a female deity (or female deities, or female aspects of the divine) but didn’t want to use the word Goddess or wanted to talk about the subject in a non-religious, even not specifically spiritual, context. Often they also didn’t want their views to be construed as feminist. Sometimes these were participants in the New Age movement or people approaching the newly emerging Goddess movement from a psychological standpoint (“it helps women feel better” or “it helps women find themselves”). It was not unusual for them to speak of the “feminine within” for women and the “inner feminine” for men. For women, what was usually meant was that they had an outer feminine and an inner feminine, and that the inner feminine was spiritual. For men, there was the implied constraint that their feminine part was of course tucked away “within” where only they would be aware of it. These ideas seem to be rooted in the Jungian anima-animus concept.

Though I think that helping women “feel better” or “find themselves” may be a worthy goal and is part of the picture for some interested in Goddess, it is not by any means the full picture and it diminishes the power (and empowerment) of Goddess by making the role of the divine less than in other religions or spiritual paths. Continue reading “Why Not ‘Feminine Divine’? by Judith Laura”

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