I think I've neglected blogging here lately due to the ease of quickly posting updates to Facebook. I'm going to work on that. For now, check out this snippet from a post from Mystic Mamma - that has ideas that have been floating around in my head for some time and that I plan to post more on later - then click on over there to read more.
Some readers (especially those that know me) might think I'm sporadically a little nutty on this sort of topic over the last few years. Yeah, maybe. I can admit that and I'm totally shameless about it. Because, no matter how uncomfortable it makes people, I think it's all worth saying.
Sites like Everyday Feminism are doing a great job making progressive gender ideas palatable for the masses. But I'm more interested in getting down to the nit and gritty and not pandering to a lowest common denominator. Nor am I interested in making people feel all warm and fuzzy about the Patriarchy and its influence. If you've got some patriarchal-shame, get good with it so it doesn't stop you from being able to see the world in a new light. Say "enough already", be free, and start imagining new paradigms. Shame is useless and only stops us from evolving.
There's no shame in being sexual. It's innate and wonderful to be gifted with such amazing potential for connection and pleasure. But how that sexual nature manifests is largely due to cultural influences. Humans are not born knowing how to be sexual adults. We learn it from our environments like we do most everything else.
The major evidence for this is how sexual mores have changed over time and vary by culture. All it takes is a small amount of research (thank you Google) to find out that women were once thought of as the more "over sexed" gender while today that label is thrown onto males. Whoa. How'd that happen? Did women have more testosterone back in those days? Did men have less? Did we evolve as a species? Aren't we told that according to Darwinist evolution, males are supposed to be the promiscuous, cheating, over-sexed monkey-men who can't get enough of sex, porn, and Rosy Redpalm? Tell that to the Ancient Greeks or even the Puritans.
We can also observe other cultures - like tribal people - who don't possess the same nudity taboos or sexually repressed ideas that Westerners do. If breasts were something men were innately wired to ogle and get automatic hard-ons over, I don't think the human race would've made it this far. "Hunt for food? Build some shelter? Screw that! Titties everywhere! I need some alone time."
Every sexual idea or practice is basically made up by culture. Period. From gender norms to myths of sexual appetites, it's all a bunch of hooey. Hell, less than a hundred years ago pink was a color for boys and powder blue was for girls. Thanks to some retailers trying to sell baby clothes that all changed.
How about we think outside our proverbial patriarchal boxes for a second. In our current paradigm, sex is very phalli-centric. This means it begins with a male erection and ends with male ejaculation. Right? Right. 'Cause patriarchy. And women have been the class seen as subordinate to males, thought of as male property, etc. for a few thousands years or so right? Uh huh. Again, 'cause patriarchy. So what do you suppose would happen if we didn't have the "cause patriarchy" factor? We'll get back to that but try giving that question a good think over for now.
Let's move on to tackling some of the most common responses/excuses for stereotypical, hetero-normative objectification from some not so common angles and see what happens. Oh, but before we go on it needs to be made clear that we're not talking about "all men" and "all women". We're talking about men as a class and women as a class. This is an important distinction that helps us not overly personalize these topics and lose sight of the real issues.
Men Are Objectified Too.
Yup. And two wrongs don't make a right. Also, we can talk more about this when sexism isn't a thing anymore and women aren't sexually exploited every second by pornography, prostitution, strip clubs, human trafficking, Victoria's Secret, etc. - all for the enjoyment/entertainment of men. 'Cause patriarchy.
Women Like It Or They Wouldn't Wear Short Skirts, Little Blouses, Bikinis, Etc.
I don't give a shit what Cameron Diaz says. Just like males are taught to ogle women in order to feel more like "real" men, girls are taught to want to be ogled in order to feel more like "real" women.
I've actually witnessed this in a younger woman who was so distraught that my husband wouldn't ogle her that she competed with me for his gaze constantly. To get his attention her voice would go up a notch higher, she'd play with her hair, she'd consistently check to see if he was looking at her rear. All because he had yet to give her the once over she needed to feel worthy. I'm sure I've done similar things before but standing outside of the situation and observing it was a real eye opener.
Anyway, women objectify themselves (which can often lead to eating disorders and general body dysmorphia) and other women too. It's a vicious, dehumanizing cycle that really boils down to the fact that we place value on individuals based on the wrong factors. By wrong I mean harmful. Because that's exactly what objectification is. The gif below is from the TED Talk "The Sexy Lie" by Caroline Heldman. Highly recommended.
It's Biology. It's Instinct. It's Natural. Men Are Visual Creatures.
Firstly, we're all visual creatures unless we're visually impaired. This argument is just ridiculously over simplified and used as an excuse for the continuation of learned objectification behaviors. It also puts certain expectations on men to participate in objectifying behaviors in order to be "real" men. Because if you don't get a big happy looking at girl-butts and boobs you must be gay *gasp* or otherwise effeminate. 'Cause patriarchy.
Lori Rose wrote an article titled "Objectification is Not Your Sexuality" that sums up what I think about this pretty quickly. To quote her, "It's time we cleared something up: Sexual objectification is not related to or a part of sex. Full stop."
As mentioned above, sexual expression is learned and conditioned by culture. Because males are taught from an early age to objectify women doesn't mean it's an in-born sexual expression that all males are burdened with.
One more time. Objectification of women through the male gaze is learned. It's not hardwired into our very elastic and malleable brains. It's not human nature. You don't have to do it. It's not you.
What's Wrong With Attraction?
Um, nothing. Nothing at all. But attraction - or more clearly the ways in which we express attraction - are not behaviors that are set in stone by our DNA. Also, the physical attributes we're attracted to change with culture and time period. From a plump belly to small penises (yes, once upon a time smaller was better) whatever we call "attractive" is completely mutable based on environmental influences. It's not in any way necessary nor innate to look a woman over like a prize steer in order to denote attraction to her or to even experience that attraction in the first place.
And how about realizing real attraction from manufactured attraction? Here's what I mean. We've all had that moment where someone we thought was gorgeous and perfect starts talking to us and all of a sudden whatever spark was there dies out in an instant. Maybe it's incompatible chemistry. Maybe their just too dimwitted. Maybe they spit when they talk. Whatever. Something changes and they don't look that great anymore.
We've also all had those times when someone we thought looked a bit average or lackluster becomes the only vision we want to see or think about because getting to know them made them uber attractive to us. Being with someone, experiencing them, appreciating them... maybe even loving them... that's real attraction. That's more than made up status-creating standards for appearances.
It's Appreciating Beauty.
Bullshit. Appreciating something gives it value. Objectification takes that value away and replaces it with the viewers own self-gratifying agenda. Instead of seeing a person, there is only an object that has the capacity to be viewed and used as a means to an end.
Why is it assumed that women exist in the world to be appreciated by the gaze of others anyway? What's that about? Women are not sunsets or flowers or whatever. They're whole people. And, as far as I'm concerned, if you're not recognizing the full humanity of another person, you aren't appreciating them at all. See more of my (censored) comments on this at my Facebook page.
And let's really talk about what this form of "appreciating beauty" is all about. According to patriarchy, men need it, women can give it and thus women have power over men. Since women being powerful in a patriarchy is unacceptable (because that weakens the male class and makes them vulnerable) men need to find a way to take that power back. Men "appreciate the beauty" of women because they have been taught that images of women can give them orgasms and imagined power that can calm their feelings of inadequacy. I know it's awkward but it's still true.
Women are seen as walking orgasms. Your average guy can stare at a bunch of women on the street then go home and imagine he's giving it to each of them in succession. He's in essence found a way to possess images of those women without their consent and use them for his I'm-bored-so-why-not-boners. Now he's got power over them instead of the other way around. Because the last thing men are supposed to be or feel is powerless or vulnerable. That's not what the patriarchy promises.
As I mentioned in my censored comments, this is thought of as normal male sexual expression in our society. When in reality this behavior is a coping mechanism employed by men to reaffirm their patriarchal male identity that becomes what psychologists call a paraphilia or fetish. Just because women are the most common or "normal" fetish object doesn't negate the purpose the fetish serves in the mind of the fetishist. The fact that so many men have a hard time giving up ogling and objectification is further evidence of the compulsive nature and fetish-like quality of the way women are viewed.
Patriarchal society says that "real" men want to have sex with lots of women, all day, every day. Most women will do but the super hot ones are especially coveted as a precious commodity. Because "real" men, powerful men have hot girls on their arms. The rest of the average guys (or commonly termed beta-males... ick) can only jerk off imagining those hotties. Because they're not good enough. Because they're not man enough. So objectification will have to do for the regular dudes who can't live up to the unrealistic, survival-of-the-fittest, he-who-wins-gets-to-screw-them-all mentality. Because patriarchy promised them hot girls one way or another. And they feel entitled to those hot girls.
It's really a very innocent response when we look at it this way. After all, most men and women don't see the patriarchal box they've been metaphorically taped into and they simply don't know any better to see the harms. However, none of it is truly innocuous and once someone knows better, there can no longer be excuses made for not changing the behavior. Because the way men feel it is their birthright to view women as objects they are deserving of possessing leads to a whole host of human issues ranging from divorce to rape culture to the recent Isla Vista murders. See Caroline Heldman's TED Talk for the specific ways objectification and self-objectification harm women and girls.
Without the 'Cause Patriarchy Factor
It's really not that hard to stop making people into things when we realize things are of no real value to us as human beings who desperately desire meaningful connection to all of creation.
I know this all sounds a bit strange. I mean, once upon a time I had no idea how to express my sexuality outside of the patriarchal norms of being looked at and seen as an object. And I'm sure many men out there can't begin to imagine what their sexuality is if it isn't tied up with objectifying activities like girl watching, strip clubs, porn, etc. I get it. It's what we all learned and it's what we all know.
But I now realize there are other ways of being sexual, other ways of thinking about sex, about men, about women that allow our humanity to stay intact. Objectification removes empathy for others and erodes our capacity for compassion. We are capable of so much more than what we've been given as a blueprint and we have great capacity to change. But it's going to take time and each of us as individuals needs to accept responsibility. To start, let's tell ourselves a new story about sex, about beauty, and about attraction.
Sex can be about a whole lot more than pleasing the male member or otherwise stroking the patriarchal male ego (pun intended). It can be a whole body experience full of sensuality and connection. Because being sensual has been seen as a feminine trait it denotes weakness and vulnerability that men are usually taught to avoid. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Attraction is about more than appearances. There are many layers and facets to each individual that can stir attraction. There is a difference between what we've been sold as "attractive" and what we really respond to deeply in our daily lives. Making these distinctions is one of the first steps to reclaiming our sexual responses as our own and not the creation of patriarchal media and advertising.
Beauty as we commonly define it is an inconsistent, made up compilation of status symbol creating attributes that change from time to time and culture to culture. If you think someone is sexy, chances are you were told they were sexy by the society you live in. If you see someone who fits this mold and have the urge to objectify them, you could say to yourself:
"She conforms to conventional beauty standards that I've been taught to create a sexual fetish of by the patriarchy in order to quell my deep fears of inadequacy. But I recognize that she is a whole person who doesn't need my eyes or anyone else's to validate her existence. Because her humanity is what really makes her beautiful. And my humanity is what makes me beautiful. I don't want to lose any of it by dehumanizing another in the act of objectification. I desire connection with real people not things."
While this was at times tongue and cheek, I am quite serious about coming to an understanding of human sexuality outside of our current influences. I welcome your questions and comments on this and similar topics as we all try to navigate new waters in a world that is moving away from patriarchal paradigms and shifting towards cooperation and partnership.
By Lisa on Thursday, October 09, 2014
I often feel full of joy and a gratitude for life when I see them all hanging out together, their grey and downy babies wobbling at their sides. The other day I witnessed a graceful adult goose get hit by a car on a busy road near where I live. Seeing the beautiful animal lying on the ground, honking and confused, with its faithful gaggle watching from the sidelines, immediately brought me to tears.
In a most dramatic (and perhaps silly sounding) sense I felt almost like Jim Morrison who, as a child, witnessed a car crash that took the life of a Native American man. Jim lived the rest of his days believing that the man's spirit somehow blended with his. At that moment yesterday, I felt something similar and hope that I can carry the soul of that wounded goose with strength.
So after years of watching and admiring the goose from afar, I decided it was time to accept that this bird was a totem of mine and look up what that meant. What I found seemed meaningful if not full of synchronicity.
"If Goose has flown across your path;You are being reminded that we often take on the quests of our peers and family without stepping back and discerning whether or not this is something that we ourselves would wish to pursue. Make sure that the path you are currently following is your own and look deeply into your heart to ascertain that the choice is yours and not what someone else has wished upon you.
Alternatively the quest you are currently on is about to take an abrupt change of course. Know that this is only a temporary thing and that you will soon be back on your chosen path.
If Goose is your Animal Totem;You are kind, loyal and brave. Family and friends is a high priority for you. You are a clear communicator and a compassionate member of your community. Your focus is always on the community and family as a whole unit and make your decisions (often with self sacrifice) based on what is best for all. You have an innate belief that there is just one special person in the world for each of us and make a devoted and tentative spouse. You are good at setting your boundaries and aggressive at keeping them in place. Your greatest desire is to manifest the “good life” for your family and community. You know how to tap into the Universal Mind to find the destiny and directions of individuals and then relay the stories they need to activate their process of destiny manifestation."
Brightest blessing of the goose and happy summer.
By Lisa on Wednesday, July 02, 2014
I rarely get personal here but there's so much going on lately - so much to worry about. I'm trying not to worry so much since I know as well as anyone that it is one of the mind's most useless preoccupations. But I've been slacking on the meditation a little and that has a way of making my head feel cluttered. Best to just get it all out.
Our dog passed a couple of weeks ago now. It was our decision and I hope the right one. We're moving in a month or so to a village on the Erie Canal and leaving the gorgeous acre and a half of green space we've called home for a decade now. It seems appropriate to have buried our boy on the only land he ever lived.
I'm flooded with questions and concerns about money, my daughter's new school and her education, how much space we'll have, whether our cats will make a bathroom of the new place before we even get settled in, and how much we'll miss our gardens and the openness and the dancing trees.
But we won't miss the obnoxious sounds of traffic flying down past the strip mall that poses as a main drag just up the street. We won't miss the macho motorcyclists who used to wake our baby with their antics at 3am. We won't miss the sound of sirens in this little oasis surrounded by commerce.
No, where we're going will be more quiet, that much is certain. Perhaps we'll hear a stray moo from a randy cow, but no Harleys will clash with our peaceful suppers. Surprising, considering it's a townhome in a circle of townhomes, surrounded by neighbors on all sides.
In a few years time we hope to buy a home somewhere on the outskirts of the city - about an hour or so away to commute. This is the plan since it's a good way to be sure we won't be paying a mortgage for the rest of our lives (on top of student loans) as the houses are a million times cheaper out there.
Ideally we'd love a small home, maybe even a tiny one - a 500 square foot castle surrounded by nature. Not much to clean, not much to maintain. Just us and the wild and some time to spare. He wants to grow food all day. I'll help, of course, but I still need to make the art and maybe even get some more of my novels off the ground. If I could set those things in motion, we could live anywhere and he could farm as much as he wanted and be completely set free from computer and cube.
I'm going to make that happen.
In the meantime, I will do my best to stay in the now. Because the now is almost always pretty awesome. I will choose to always be in love and never lose faith. I will strive to live for those I love and be ever brave in the face of fear. I love therefore I am.
By Lisa on Monday, June 23, 2014
|unknown artist | source|
This is an important read from Goddess scholar, Anne Baring, and one that I downloading into my collection many years ago.
When the masculine and the feminine are in balance, there is fluidity, relationship, a flow of energy, unity, totality. This fluidity and balance is perhaps best illustrated by the Taoist image of the indissoluble relationship and complementarity of Yin and Yang. In the broadest terms, the feminine is a containing pattern of energy: receptive, connecting, holding things in relationship to each other; the masculine is an expanding pattern of energy: seeking extension, expansion towards what is beyond. More specifically, the feminine reflects the instinctual matrix and the feeling (heart) values of consciousness; the masculine reflects the questing, goal-defining, ordering, discriminating qualities of consciousness, generally associated with mind or intellect. For millennia women have lived closer to the first pattern; men to the second. But now, there is a deep impulse to balance these within ourselves and our culture. There is an urgent need to temper the present over-emphasis on the masculine value with a conscious effort to integrate the feminine one. [read more]
After publishing my most recent thoughts on my current spiritual journey with the Horned God/Divine Masculine, I sent an email to my husband with the link so he could read it and we could discuss it later. This is pretty normal though I didn't really expect the thoughts that came out before I hit send.
Anima: the personification of all feminine psychological tendencies within a man, the archetypal feminine symbolism within a man's unconscious.
Animus: the personification of all masculine psychological tendencies within a woman, the archetypal masculine symbolism within a woman's unconscious.
This is something I wrote on Panthea today and it's bringing some revelations. I think I can see now that in every man I've ever been attracted to I've been looking for something to heal the wounded masculine spirit within myself. And that (consciously) choosing not to seek that in others, but to seek it in myself and in our relationship, I've finally begun to truly heal it instead of putting fruitless and temporary band aids over it.
I wanted to share that epiphany with you as I think it's universally human and that men obviously do the same sorts of things. It almost makes sense that men would covet and objectify so heavily given that their feminine selves are so deeply wounded in this age - disproportionately so, I would wager, than the masculine in women.This is sort of like a big "ah ha" moment for me. It seems so obvious now, but I suppose I've never really been able to put the whole idea into coherent language. Even though I've studied Jung and read many times about anima/animus projection, it is just now beginning to make some serious sense. Perhaps it's taken me so long to figure out because the ideas of "masculine" and "feminine" are such loaded concepts in our patriarchal world.
Erich Neumann, a student of Carl Jung, said this in his book, The Origins and History of Consciousness:
It is in this sense that we use the terms "masculine" and "feminine" . . . not as personal sex-linked characteristics, but as symbolic expressions. . . . The symbolism of "masculine" and "feminine" is archetypal and therefore transpersonal; in the various cultures concerned, it is erroneously projected upon persons as though they carried its qualities. In reality every individual is a psychological hybrid. . . . . [I]t is one of the complications of individual psychology that in all cultures the integrity of the personality is violated when it is identified with either the masculine or the feminine side of the symbolic principle of opposites."The integrity of the personality is violated" is very profound. What this means is that being forced by our cultural standards to bifurcate our true selves as "psychological hybrids" into one of two narrowly defined boxes called "male" or "female" causes great spiritual and psychological trauma to the individual. Obviously, we would need to develop some coping mechanisms in order to deal with that trauma.
Of the two social classes of men and women, we could easily say that men are more culturally policed to repress their anima natures. Calling a man a homosexual is a far bigger insult than calling a woman a lesbian, for example. In fact, there are many more words used to emasculate men than there are to de-feminize women (if that's even a word). The anima is repressed, scorned, and hated. The projected coping mechanisms created to deal with this violation of the naturally hybridized male psyche include objectification of female bodies, pornography, prostitution, general violence against women, and overall misogyny. Not to mention what men do to each other in order to punish the anima in other men.
Above are some of the more extreme ways in which a man may continue to disassociate himself from his anima (from anything perceived as feminine) as "the other" and therefore reinforce his culturally constructed masculinity. Women project their animus as well, though the outcomes of coping with that trauma seem wholly different and may need their own post. This is most likely due to the imbalance of power within a patriarchy.
So why don't most people feel consciously traumatized by denying half of their own experience as a human soul? Why don't more people do this psychological digging? Because it's oh so normal. It's what we know and the way we think things are supposed to be. We don't know better and so accept the abuses that come from these hidden psychological wounds. And being raised within a patriarchal paradigm, we unknowingly reinforce these stereotypical ways of being on a regular basis without the slightest bit of forethought.
Think about it. We all have pretty concrete ideas of what a man or a woman is supposed to be and behave accordingly. These values are planted when we're very young children with words like "isn't she a pretty princess" or "what a strong line-backer of a boy". What if we began to realize that everything we've been taught is a fabrication perpetuated throughout time in order to maintain social control? What if we really took a hard look at ourselves and saw that deep down, we are who we are, regardless of the bodies we arrived here in?
Masculine/Feminine, Anima/Animus, Yin/Yang... these exist in all of us and are integral parts of our soul's experience. To deny one side or the other is a violation of our innocent humanity, a bifurcation of mind and spirit whose wounds continue to threaten our societies and our very planet.
This is the new paradigm that can move us out of the culture of domination we currently find ourselves in. This is the time of partnership being set into motion by the planets and stars above, most deeply felt since the 2012 Winter Solstice. The question for all of us is, will we take the opportunities the Universe is providing and be brave enough to give birth to something new?