Lion, ancient symbol of strength and courage, is found in cave art from our early days. From the Egyptians to the Medieval Christians, lion could represent danger and chaos or protection and triumph over chaos. But through it all lion’s traits of strength and courage – power and vitality –remain at the core.
Over the last several years, the North American Pagan community at large has been engaged in an often turbulent process of self-examination. A lot of allegations of abuse, bigotry, and oppressions are surfacing very publicly as the greater Pagan culture is forced to face its own shadow wounds. Debridement of such wounds is rarely a pretty or painless process, especially when that process reaches a plenary level.
As I’ve watched these events unfold, learned more about the horrific abuses committed by community leaders, and gone through my own inner process of razing the metaphorical pedestals upon which I had placed some of the authors and leaders whose teachings I drew on passionately while beginning to venture down a Pagan path, I have often come back, over and over again, to the question of what makes for a safe, positive, healthy Pagan leader and a safe, healthy organization, to include one that exhibits characteristics I believe are inherent to good feminism, as well.Continue reading “Leadership and Community: Continuing to be Teachable by Kate Brunner”
It is so easy to blame feminism for the ills of the world – mainly because of continued misconceptions and misunderstandings about the definition or meaning of feminism. Feminism is responsible for poverty, bad leadership, wars, the polar vortex, the list goes on. Feminism is still considered a derogatory term that serves to incite prejudice against those who label themselves as one. In fact, negative connotations surrounding feminism are exacerbated in today’s culture, especially in the media. Fox News seems to be the poster child of “femiphobia” – a term coined by Stephen Ducat and defined as “wanting to repress every man’s feminine side and demonize the feminine and gay wherever we see them.” Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Nick Adams, in a recent interview, illustrate this femiphobic viewpoint by blaming feminism for raising a culture of “wimps” and “wussies” and thus compromising the U. S.’s national security and weakening its global presence. In other words, feminism is to blame for the problems of the world.
According to Adams, men around the world are no longer allowed to be “manly” and that this phenomenon is a “dangerous” problem:
American men are of course very susceptible to it. It’s really important particularly in America given the leadership role that America has in the world that American men be allowed to be men.
What does in mean to be a man and how is Adams defining that stereotype? While I am aware of the discussion of gender identity and roles even gendered stereotypes, this post is not about what those roles mean. Rather, for this point of discussion, I want to address the issue of masculinity, feminism, and what it means to be a “wimp” as portrayed by popular media.
With that caveat in mind, I ask the following questions:
Is the author suggesting a move to a “hypermasculinity”?
Is Adams identifying masculinity with aggression and violence in a world where feminists and perhaps all women are demonized?
In a society dominated by the “alpha male” character trait,male honor and pride are paramount. Is Fox News telling men to replace so-called passive behavior with pride, abrasiveness, authoritarianism, and arrogance–in such a world if where women are demonized, then assaultand rape will follow. The call for “real men” or “hyper-masculinity” therefore provides a real potential to move us further towards a misogynistic rape culture of violence–in the direction of barbarianism.
“Pui Lan, would you be willing to run for the Vice-President of AAR?” the chair of the Nominations Committee of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) called and asked me back in April 2008.
The AAR, with 10,000 members, is the world’s largest professional organization of scholars in religion. The majority of its members are from the U.S., but approximately 17 percent are international scholars from over 70 countries.
It was a great honor to have been nominated—for the Vice-President would be in line to become the President in 2011. The problem was that there would be an election and I would have to compete with another candidate, who happened to be a professor at Harvard University.
While listening to an NPR station a few months ago, I heard a man – apparently a marketing whiz – say, “Teenage girls are a field-dependent market for us.” Hmmmm. There it is again, the long arm of Herman Witkin’s influence decades after his famous experiment in the psychology of visual perception in 1954, which found that male subjects tend strongly to focus on a foreground figure, while female subjects tend strongly to perceive figure and ground as a gestalt, or holistic totality. (These results have been replicated thousands of times since then, including cross-culturally.) However, following the experimental findings themselves, then came the patriarchal spin. Witkin assigned the positive, admirable label “field-independent” to men and the less admirable “field-dependent” to women. He and other psychologists extrapolated from his findings that women’s cognitive style is “conforming,” “child-like,” and “global,” being similar, as Witkin added in 1962, to the [supposedly] undifferentiated thought processes found in “primitive” cultures. He added that women’s “field-dependence” renders us unable to maintain a “sense of separate identity,” unlike “field-independent males,” whose cognitive style was seen as “analytical” and “self-reliant.” In more recent decades female psychologists have suggested that women’s cognitive style might well be re-labeled “field-sensitive.” But is that really sufficient? After all, it carries the connotation of women’s being supposedly “over-sensitive.”
Why does this matter now? Because the ground is shifting fast under the old view of reality as an aggregate of discrete entities (foreground figures, as Witkin would say), which may or may not relate to one another. On the contrary, numerous discoveries in recent years indicate that the entire physical world, including humans, is far more dynamically interrelated – in both structure and functioning – than had been imagined (except by indigenous cultures and Eastern philosophy). Even as someone who’s been tracking the Relational Shift for decades, I was amazed by many of the recent discoveries – as well as the fact that this shift is now decidedly mainstream. Continue reading “Field-Dependent or Field-Astute? By Charlene Spretnak”