As above, so below.

I really don’t have much of a developed opinion over the verbal free-for-all presently going on in the pagan comminity over PantheaCon.  But, I do have this observation.

Any group that excludes based upon factors that do not take into account the holistic individual are doomed to exactly this sort of failure.  If, as Z. Budapest has had a quote regarding this attributed to her along these lines, one must have a period to be “female”, does that mean that a woman born female but had her uterus removed surgically before puberty (due to disease or injury) isn’t a woman?  What if medicine were to provide a way for genetically born men to have a uterus “grown” for them and implanted?

Where does one draw the line?  Sex and gender are rarely black and white.  I thought the whole point of this exercise was that we don’t have to be defined by stereotypical gender roles because we may have been born with one particular set of genitalia.  We are all capable of being divine, both feminine and masculine.

Oh, and other genders as well.

8 thoughts on “As above, so below.

  1. The idea that one must be a woman (womyn, womBan, wimmin, etc.) by birth in order to truly be one, seems to be fairly common in feminist Pagan groups. I know at least two trans women who left the Goddess Temple of Orange County in disgust because the one place they thought would welcome them fully didn’t, simply because of their lack of a uterus. (One of them still attends open circle there, but it is not sponsored by the GT, but simply held on the premises.)

    To the extent that I can do so as a male, I see their point; a lot of the so-called women’s mysteries revolve around birth, menstruation, and lactation, which m2f transsexuals have no experience of. Still, it seems a shame that the hard-line feminists in the Pagan community, by alienating and marginalizing their (potentially) most ardent supporters, are exacerbating the very problem they have worked so hard to overcome.

    • See, and that’s the greater point. Does one have to menstruate to be female?

      I know of many women who have issues here. Some of them suffer from “female organ problems” (PCOS being one of the big ones) that make menstruation erratic. I also know of more than one wonderful genetic female who doesn’t menstruate at all. Does that make them any less female? Would they be excluded? I somehow suspect not.

      And the reverse question is valid, as well. What if a pre-op F2M wanted to attend the ritual? Somebody who is genetically female, but dresses and acts male? I know of more than one F2M who not only could pass as men, but would be accepted into any “male-only” space I’ve ever seen without even so much as a blink of the eye.

      I understand the need for “female only” space. What I think the issue is revolves around any blanket statement being made like “if you don’t have a uterus and haven’t had a menstrual cycle, you aren’t female”. It’s setting yourself up for failure, because gender and sexuality isn’t that simple, even for a lot of straight cisgendered spiritual folk.

  2. I find this statement very interesting. I grew up in OC and left it in disgust because of the people who committed crimes. Just because I don’t have a uterus doesn’t make me less of a woman. It is how I approach people and display my being.

  3. In terms of personhood (without regard to gender), I woud say it is indeed what’s on the inside that counts. However, looking atreports of the event which triggered the controversy, it appears that a trans woman and a male companion tried to attend one of Z. Budapest’s “Amazon Priestess” skyclad rituals, and were turned away. Now, I’m not exactly a luminary in the pagan community, but I know who Z.Budapest is, and I know what skyclad means, and I have a pretty good idea of what goes on at an Amazon Priestess ritual. And knowing these things means that I would know that if you try attending one of these rituals, and you have a dick, you are going to be as welcome as a pork roast at a bar mitzvah. (To be fair, I have no idea if the transgender woman in question was pre- or post-op.) I mentioned this incident (or what I have read about it), to my HPS and she was stunned that anyone would even try a stunt like this, no matter how much they felt like a woman on the inside.

    I dunno–not my peeps, so not my business, really. What bothers me about the reaction to this incident is that a lot of it boils down to more of the whole “more PC than thou” crap that taints so much of the pagan community.

    • I believe that part of the issue had to do with the fact that the “requirements” for attending the ritual were not clearly spelled out in the program, and the way it was “communicated” to those who were excluded.

      The Wild Hunt has a pretty link-intensive page with the whole rundown if you’re interested.

  4. Hmmm. Having read Z. Budapest’s comment (and yes, I believe it is actually hers) via the link at The Wild Hunt, I would say that Ms. Budapest has let her inability to evolve with the times make her just as much of a sexist as the men whose patriarchy she fought. What we have here is not just a failure to communicate, but a prime example of how spirituality, when poisoned by dogma and choked by fundamentalism, becomes the stinking corpse known as religion.

    This event could well turn out to be a watershed event for the Dianic Tradition. Either Ms. Budapest and those who share her views open their minds to a view of womanhood that sees beyond biology, or she’s going to find that she’s become the Fred Phelps of neo-Paganism.

  5. I was at that Amazon Priestess ritual. I can testify that they did not spell out in the program that the ritual was cisgendered women only. At best, epic programming fail. At worst, bigotry in an unexpected place.

    One question I have for Z. Budapest et. al: If you have to menstruate to be a woman, does that mean you cease to be a woman when you hit menopause? Seriously, if that is true, you introduce ageism as well as transphobia into the mix.

    One very nasty comment I heard before that ritual from one of the priestesses: “I don’t know, it’s not like we can check their genitals or anything.” If they’re so hung up about gender that they’re thinking about such things, then they’ve bought into the whole patriarchal duality construct regarding gender. At the time, I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation, so I had no context upon which to judge it until the next day, when a transwoman told me they shut the door in her face. I really got pissed off and told Con Ops about it, as did a bunch of other people. The staff at PantheaCon said they were changing their policy to make all events more inclusive.

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