Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Catching Up: Post #3

May 6, 2013:

Have you ever noticed how most of the dust-ups in pagan groups and communities are the direct result of some wizard who can't keep his wand in his robes where it belongs? (I believe I may have commented on this before.) It's not surprising, but it's still depressing and annoying, because it serves to illustrate just how far we still are from a truly egalitarian and utopian ideal, and how deeply the patterns of the dominant culture still mark our interactions. This is one of the main reasons I'm not a festival-goer, or much inclined to group participation of any sort, if you were wondering.

In my cynical moments (which I'll freely admit are most of them), I'm disposed to believe that nearly all religions exist at least in part in order to control, dominate and/or exploit sexuality--which typically is synonymous with female behavior. And it seems to hold no matter from which angle it's approached, whether the desire is to suppress or exalt; there's always someone who stands to benefit, and it's rarely the person who is the object of the attention. While the religious mainstream uses what has come to be known as "slut-shaming" as its preeminent female social/behavioral control mechanism, the countercultural faiths such as paganism tend toward what might be called "prude-shaming"--intimations that not going along with boundary-crossing activities makes one prudish, hung-up in "Judeo-Christian morality," or otherwise non-pagan in attitude or expression. Either way, it's a control technique, the sole aim of which is to coerce someone into transgressing their own boundaries and conforming to the exploiter's desire.And it can be blatant and obvious or subtle and insidious, but it's a persistent plague within our communities which tried so hard to counter the dominant culture's toxic response to sexuality that they ended up doing the same things in reverse. "Everything is permissible" is ultimately no more tenable, and no less dangerous, than "nothing is allowed."

Did something happen? Yes, although not to me personally, but it was related to a powder keg that I'd been idly expecting to see blow for years, and I'm really only surprised by the fact that it took this long for such an explosion (though there have likely been other incidents in the past to which I've not been privy). My only comment is to wonder aloud how personal boundaries can be maintained in situations that appear expressly designed to breach them. My only suggestions are, as usual, moderation and vigilance. I also recommend retiring from participation or association with any group or community that bears even the faintest whiff of possible sexual coercion, manipulation, or predation, though I realize not all of them are upfront about it, but there are--trust me on this one--always indicators. To state it metaphorically, if you think you see a duck, you can probably safely believe it's a duck, even if there are a dozen people earnestly assuring you that it is in fact an aardvark and it's only your monotheistic programming causing you to perceive it as a duck.

Be safe out there.

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