Saturday, April 26, 2008

Gender Roles

There was a time, months ago, when I babysat my siblings for about a week, while my parents were taking a vacation. I stayed at their house, and hung out with my siblings. Most of them had school, and my brother (who was still living at home at the time) was old enough that my parents probably could have done without my services, except that my youngest brother was too young to be in school, and thus to be watched, so I had to stay at home all day with him.
This is to explain how I came to watch a show on Animal Planet called Animal Planet's The Most Extreme--my little brother loved that show.

The premise of the Most Extreme was that they would pick a theme, like Fighters, or Big Mouths, or something like that, find the ten animals with the biggest mouths, and present them from least to most, with information about the animals, and often related information about humans interspersed throughout the show.
So, the episode I'm thinking of was The Battle of the Sexes. It began with Tasmanian Devils (the females have their own burrows, which the males invade in order to mate with her, and then he guards her burrow ferociously, not allowing another male to enter--or the female to leave) and ended with a species of lizard that is entirely female, and "reproduces" by the females mounting each other to trigger the reproductive hormones, creating clones of the mother.
During the last segment, they discussed the Y chromosome in humans, and the theory that it seems to be shrinking and possibly one day humans will evolve like those lizards and be able to reproduce clones without males.

However, the point. (Yes, the background for my point may be overly-complete, but ... )
Animal Planet uses an obviously computer-generated human form when talking about human bodies during those parts of the show.
What I realized while watching various episodes of The Most Extreme, but especially that one, is that unless they discuss something that specifically relates to human females, the human form is male.
The default human is male.

I also saw a couple commercials for something that I never understood--something about Take me fishing.
Anyway, the commericals featured young children asking their grandpa to take them fishing, because before you know it, I'll be all grown up, and it'll be too late.
Anyway, the boys say things like, "Take me fishing. That way we'll always have something in common." The little girl says, "Take me fishing, because my wedding will come sooner than you think."

And then, on a different note, I want to relate a conversation that occurred in my writing group before I moved.
Two of our members are the most awesome women I have ever known, and were like mentors to me. One of them was writing an awesome fantasy book, that took place in an unspecified past-like setting--with peasants and kings and magic.
She wrote a scene where one of the characters was giving birth, and one of the women told the men, "This is women's work, get out of here."
One of the men in the group objected, on the grounds that it was sexist, and said something like, "I especially can't believe you two would write something so clearly offensive as that."
The thing is, I don't find that offensive (and told him so).
My most firmly held belief is that men and women are or should be equal, but that does not make us the same. I am, of course, not advocating that women should stay in the kitchen, or the bedroom. What I believe in is gender roles that make sense: women give birth. Presumably, this means that women who have given birth before have some kind of expertise, or at least some experiences, that man, no matter how long he studies medicine, will never have. Thus, midwifing is women's work.

Gender roles are a complex subject, but the one that I am most passionate about. I will discuss it further at another time.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Teeth: a mini review

I saw the movie Teeth the other night.
It was probably best that I didn't know very much about it before I went, because I'm not certain I would have seen it if I had. But it was excellent.
Briefly: Dawn is the local chastity group's most active particpant. She discovers she has a toothed vagina when she becomes the object of violence.
Teeth borrows from the vagina dentata myth, giving Dawn a toothed vagina (the teeth are similar in shape to a cross between a shark tooth (the root) and an eel tooth (the serrated edge), but have human DNA, according to the tooth expert), which she learns to use as an empowering tool after suffering violence and assholes.

When it was over, me and my friend looked at each other and said, "I want one!"

See it. I regret to say that the toothed vagina never makes an appearance (but I felt I had to say it, just so you know), but there is plenty of blood and chomped-off body parts that you do get to see. (And yes, the chomped-off male genitalia looks more like a dildo than an actual penis that has been severed, but I'm pretty sure that that's because if it did, it wouldn't look much like a severed penis.)
Two thumbs up!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

She is coming back.

The more I think about it, the more I think that, really, we don't have to do anything, to cure this imbalance between men and women. Blasphemous? Perhaps. Outrageous? Certainly. 

Disclaimer: I am talking very generally here. I am talking not about individuals, but about Men and Women as a whole, or the Masculine and the Feminine, in symbolism, or Masculine energy and Feminine energy. (Or the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine.)

See, the way I understand it is, men created the imbalance in the first place, and the imbalance, of course, is all in our own minds. Why did they create this imbalance? 
Well, hierarchy, organization, form, structure, and many other similar things are all characterized by the Masculine, in symbolism. What this means is that, on a general, symbolic level, Men create hierarchies, Men create pecking orders and Alpha positions, etc. And Men need to be #1. 
The problem is, that when you view men and women from that Masculine viewpoint, women are clearly superior. We give birth. Holy fuck, Women can create new fucking life. Can I make that any more clear? Also, there are little things like, (the way I understand it) Women are the genetic default: adding testosterone at the right time makes the fetus male. 
Also, there's the fact that Women don't view the world like Men do. Chaos, cooperation, interdependence, organic organization, going with the flow (flowing of water, adaptability), and many other similar things are all characterized by the Feminine, in symbolism. (This is to say, above, when I was talking about Women being superior, that was not MY personal viewpoint, nor is it the viewpoint of the Feminine.) Women are much more egalitarian and sharing. So when the Men struggle for power and to be the Alpha, Women mostly smile and shake Their heads, like We don't understand it, but if it make Him happy ... 
But then of course, Men realized that (according to the Masculine viewpoint) Women were superior, and the Masculine did everything in His power to BE NUMBER ONE! Which of course led to all sorts of nasty things, devaluing the Feminine and raising the Masculine. (Sometime I'll talk about Greek myths and the Hellenes.) 

So, ever since then, we've been fighting to be equal in the Masculine's eyes. 
Well, it's not going to work. 
You see, by fighting, we're only playing His game, the game of who's better? because only one person (group, entity, symbol) can be better, in the world of hierarchy. 
What we want is equality. That's something we can only get by refusing to play the Men's game, and drawing on our Feminine symbols: cooperation, organic organization (that grows naturally and dies naturally, like elder men and women giving advice that is taken very seriously, like women who have given birth multiple times telling the younger woman who has never given birth before, "Sit down and shut up. When you've given birth as many times as I have, then I'll ask you where it hurts!"), interdependence, etc. 
Also, by valuing our selves and others equally. Once we can do that, once we can free our selves from hierarchy, from viewing some others as better than our selves, and some others as less than our selves, then we will be free from the hierarchy that Men dreamed up. 

Also, there exists a beautiful article in a magazine called Snake Power! (I believe; and I'm pretty sure the magazine no longer publishes. But I'll try to find the article)
This article suggests that, instead of a horrible mistake that now needs to be fixed, the devaluing of women and Man's takeover were instead a natural outcome of the nature of the Divine Feminine that will just as naturally be resolved. The author uses the Moon aspect of the Divine Feminine, giving each phase of the moon a time period, roughly five thousand years.  She says that every five thousand years, we switch to a new moon phase, and that right now we are transitioning from the New Moon, the dark and the absences of moon, when the Divine Feminine was in the Underworld/Otherworld, tending to the souls of the dead, to the Crescent Moon.  She is coming back.  You can see that in the upsurge of interest in the Divine Feminine, in women's rights, in the environment and egalitarianism, in everything that relates to the Feminine.  
She is coming back.  
This idea has been very interesting to me, as I look back though history: a lot of big things seem to happen at those five-thousand year marks.  Five thousand years ago (at the beginning of the New/Dark Moon phase) saw the Savior Gods, the Rising-and-Dying Gods, coming into the fore (Christ was a bit late), cities were built, civilizations founded, and the Neolithic period ends.  Ten thousand years ago (at the beginning of the Waning Crescent phase), the Ice Age ended (or took a break, depending on who you listen to) and humans first started doing serious farming and animal-rearing.  It gets fuzzy, the further we go back.  But the pattern is there.  

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble, and I also haven't had breakfast yet, so I think I'm going to close.  I may clarify, or finish later, if I find this isn't very clear/finished.