Friday, February 24, 2012

Wherein The Ocelot And Kenaz Filan Butt Heads And Depart From Reasoned Discourse.

So apparently, it's OK to call someone on transphobia, but not sexism. And thinking that just because feminists have made strides forward doesn't mean we're all comfy and can forget about that sexism thing makes one a "gender essentialist", even if one wasn't even assuming things about someone else's sex/gender identification. And if you don't say, "Why, yes, things are much better," then you'll get attacked.

Oh, and if you are one of two women who criticize someone who does, apparently, identify as a man for being sexist (as if women can't be sexist!), you can expect to get told that at least they weren't comparing Z Budapest to Hitler and if you can't explain why the patriarchy is still entrenched then you're a troll and told by their followers that women are trying to disempower men and need to shoulder responsibility.

Fine. The shoe doesn't fit, but I'll jam it on anyway.

If you won't tell people of color what their experience is or isn't when they call you on racist behavior, don't do it to women when they say you're being sexist.

If you won't tell gay/lesbian people what their experience is or isn't when they call you on homophobic behavior, don't do it to women when they say you're being sexist.

If you won't tell lower-income people what their experience is or isn't when they call you on classist behavior, don't do it to women when they say you're being sexist.

Asking a woman who says you're engaging in sexist behavior "why [do] you believe that 50+ years of efforts by several generations of feminists have been so fruitless and why the patriarchy remains so firmly entrenched despite all this work" and then use the phrase "wilfully obtuse" about her differing opinion is SEXISM. You're asking this woman (me, in this case) to educate you, and that's not my job. And I've even managed not to resort to insults. Or to point out that unless you're a lesbian separatist, you probably won't get the whole scoop on that movement today by quoting the New Yorker and New York Times.

Nor have I pointed out that when women try to gain equal rights with men, we're still accused of  "gender essentialism" or told  (by a commenter) that "women will have to step down several social notches and actually shoulder a little responsibility for society" - and all this is still acceptable. 

I criticized someone who identifies as a man, apparently, and basically got called a troll for my trouble. Hm. No wonder "I Blame The Patriarchy" still has those discussions about separatism. But I'm sure that isn't a good enough source for some.

Transwomen and The Ocelot.

Because I am indeed a pedantic person - law school will do that to you - I thought I'd make something incredibly, painfully clear:

I support the inclusion of transwomen in women's spaces/rituals/girls' nights out, because they are women.

I don't care what a transwoman does or doesn't have in her pants. I don't think biology is destiny. I don't think a uterus makes the woman. In fact, I'm not really sure that the category of "woman" is nothing more than a social construct, but if it has meaning for people (that isn't used to oppress large portions of the population), that's fine.

I recognize that my experience of being a "woman" differs from that of many other people who also identify as "woman", and that this makes neither my or their experience invalid.

Transwomen do not need me to validate their feelings that they should be allowed into a "women's" space. They are capable of determining when they are being discriminated against without my or anyone else's validation.

I would have no problem having a transwoman as a friend, partner, or coven member.

Z Budapest is being transphobic. She may change. Her trad may change with or without her. As I am not a Dianic Wiccan of her trad (there are those McFarland Dianics, after all), I have nothing further to say except that I feel her position on transwomen is wrong.

That's it. It's time to go give the cats some primo 'nip and watch something like "Super Troopers" on Netflix.

Wherein The Ocelot Thinks Some More.

OK. I thought a lot, and wrote a lot, and decided that it was devolving into a tl:dr thing. So I decided to sum up.

I don't think "open" rituals that exclude people should happen in public venues like PantheaCon. I think rituals that exclude people should be subject to critical thought. I think when people are excluded for demonstrably sexist, racist, homo/hetero/trans/biphobic, classist, or ableist reasons, such exclusions should be called out for what they are. But I don't think that criticizing something, or even rejecting it wholeheartedly, means we have to oppress the people involved in turn.

I read a blog called "I Blame The Patriarchy." I don't agree with a lot of it, but I do agree with Twisty Faster/Jill's idea that patriarchy is bad for everyone, that none of us escape it, that we all have to participate in it to some extent, that it gives all of us particular privileges. I also believe that patriarchy exists, and Kenaz Filan's blog post this morning, whose tone largely suggests that it doesn't, is the height of irony in a country where consent to sexual intercourse is being equated to consent to an invasive medical procedure if you want an abortion.

Filan took a particular Dianic lesbian to task on pir blog today; this same lesbian was told about her "privilege" for being "cis" somewhere else yesterday (again, I read it, but now can't find and quote it directly), and I thought, "Hey, wait - she never said she wasn't a butch, which would wipe that 'cis privilege' right the hell out, so *now* who's being unaware of their privilege?" There have been other comments in other places that have a similar sexist flavor. This disturbs me.

Can't we say that Z is transphobic without the near-gleeful observations about the death of lesbian separatism and/or a disabled woman's reliance on assistance that comes from the patriarchy that is our government? Can't we say that it's wrong to exclude someone for not being "enough" of something, without smugly pointing the Privilege Finger? Can't we say that perhaps some Dianics might not want anyone who even vaguely reminds them of a man in their circles without saying how dysfunctional they are and that therefore their beliefs aren't doing them much good?

Let's not get so busy rightfully taking Z to task for her transphobia that we forget not to be sexist, shall we?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Transfolk, Paganism - Wherein The Ocelot Thinks Very Hard.

Being a pervert makes some things very simple for me, but other things weirdly hard.

I don't understand what drives transfolk (who seek it, and I respect those who don't) to reassignment surgery, simply because I don't understand the common reason of "I felt like I was in the wrong body". I also don't understand non-trans folks who say they'd be horrified to wake up as the opposite sex one morning.

This is because I have no real attachment to my bits. The only thing waking up in a male body would do, I think, is cause me to have two thoughts: 1."Cool, more upper-body strength" and 2."SRSLY THIS COULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED LONG BEFORE NOW THUS SAVING ME THE WHOLE PERIODS-FROM-HELL THING?" Hell, Second Husband and I wish we could actually switch bodies at will, though I think he'd change his mind after being stuffed into my considerably older and more beat-up meatsack for a few days.

So there is a great deal about this that I don't get, but I don't have to discriminate against transfolk, either.

I get that Z Budapest wants a space for women. I support all-women's, all-men's, all-gay, all-straight, all-penguin spaces for the people who want them. I don't think anyone is arguing about anyone's right to space shared only with people they want to share it with. I do think having a public ritual at a big con that excludes, potentially, a lot of people is questionable to say the least.

I get that she's concerned - and she's not the only one - that if you are male-bodied in this culture, you will experience male privilege, and that maybe that can't just be dropped because you're sure that despite what you look like on the outside, you're a woman on the inside. However, radical queer theory as I understand it says that the reason the effeminate man is so despised is because he chooses to be a woman and not utilize that male privilege, so I'm not sure that's a valid argument for keeping transwomen out of a "women's-only" ritual.

At the heart of all this are the questions of who is a woman, and who gets to decide this? It seems to me that if your ritual is only for women who are bleeding, that's fine; say so. If it's for women of a certain age, excellent; say so. If it's for women who have had children, nice; say so. But if it's for the big category of "women", then why doesn't self-identification work? Despite all our talk about energy and spirit having no gender/being all genders/encompassing all genders, are we really willing to revert to that old "biology is destiny" crap?

Speaking of which, a commenter here, Kate LBT, says:

        "I somehow doubt that telling a group of vulnerable, disempowered and traumatized women that 
        their bodies are monstrous and don't deserve to be celebrated with other women's bodies is a part of  
        diversity that we should be celebrating."

Being a woman IS being a vulnerable, disempowered and traumatized person who's told her body is monstrous and doesn't deserve to be celebrated with other women's bodies on a daily basis. Yeah, I know. Things are better for us. But we're still told we can't be trusted to make our own medical decisions, half the contraceptive options available to us have side effects that are unacceptable, and if we don't look like whatever the patriarchal beauty norm is, we're punished for it, especially if we're unrepentant about it.

What is a "woman", anyway? If we no longer accept that being a woman, and therefore being feminine, means being weak, passive, gentle, and emotional, what then? Hell, does being a woman even mean being feminine? If we're more than just our naughty bits, and being one sex/gender doesn't condemn you to an existence that's nothing more than a conglomeration of stereotypes, do separate-sex/gender rituals still mean anything to us? If so, what? And why?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things Afoot At The Circle K.

After a houseguest who brought - and left - some rather bad vibes in their wake, the Husbands and Co-Wife and I all cleansed and then blessed the house last night. I was determined that even if the house wasn't all organized and physically cleaned, IT WAS HAPPENING, and it did.

I got Stinky Dog washed, his crate moved, and new blankets washed for him.

The Cardboard Box City has been moved to the recycling bin where it belongs.

EVIL VOICE: See what you can get accomplished when you apply yourself?
ME: You sound like my mom.
E.V.: She's a smart lady.
ME: We don't need to tell her that.

Funny thing - after last night's cleanse-and-bless, the new cats (who have been largely hiding) were out and social. They're starting to take Eldest Girl's hissing in better stride. First Husband and Co-Wife provided invaluable assistance in the washing of Stinky Dog. I got another call from a barn about a riding instructor position. Everyone here seems to be feeling general goodwill and such. Coincidence? I think not.

In the spirit of sharing blessings, I offer our cleansing and blessing for your use. Some of it is very specific to our house, and one part is from "Our Troth" (attribution follows). I ask that you adjust it for your own concerns, and not republish it without full attribution. Remember, stealing is naughty, and there is nothing so mean as an unlicensed attorney. So play nice.

(Starts at household altar)

May this house be spared by the powers of air,
From high wind, from tornado, from hurricane;

May this house be spared by the powers of fire,
From lightning, from spark, from faulty electricity;

May this house be spared by the powers of water,
From flood, from hurricane, from failure of plumbing;

May this house be spared by the powers of earth,
From sinkhole, from landslide, from shift.

May this house be spared by the powers of spirit,
From hostility, from fear, from disharmony.

With water from the well of wyrd
All ill that has been
All ill that is becoming
All ill that shall be
Is banished away.*

(back to household altar)
May this house be blessed by the powers of air,
With enough cooling, with gentle breezes, with steady breath;

May this house be blessed by the powers of fire,
With enough heat, with a dependable hearth, with safe electricity;

May this house be blessed by the powers of water,
With enough rain, with drinking water, with efficient plumbing;

May this house be blessed by the powers of earth,
With strong walls, with healthy plants, with a steady foundation.

May this house be blessed by the powers of spirit,
With love, with courage, with peace.

All these things we ask for, or their equivalents or better.

We thank the spirits of land and hearth for watching over all here.
We thank our ancestors, both known and unknown, for watching over all here.
We thank the Gods for watching over all here. Blessed be.

*From "Our Troth - Living the Troth", Kveldulf Gundarsson

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Year, New You - Prompt, "Lessons".

I've learned that some people actually read what I'm writing, and are interested (or perhaps just so horrified that they can't stop reading) in what I think about things.

I've learned that magic and the everyday are not separate for me, and not just in the slackass, "everything is maaaagickul!" way, either.

I've learned that outside motivation is damn near critical for me, and I dislike this about myself. I'm trying to figure out how to change this.

I'm nowhere close to where I want to be with my goals, but at least I haven't thrown up my hands and just given up. I may be plodding forward and/or moving erratically towards goals, but at least I'm moving. As for where I would like to be - well. I'd like to be at the barn four days a week, gainfully employed somewhere that doesn't crush my soul and make me consider homicide, doing my stuff with my training circle again, actually observing all esbats and sabbats, and maybe pursuing BTW a bit more diligently (or at least hanging out with Evn and Trothwy more than every four months). It's a tall order, I know. On the one hand, having a long to-do list motivates me, but it can also make me look at it, sigh "fuck it", and retreat to the computer to see what interesting stuff I can find on the net.

I'll give myself this next week or so off - I have a houseguest in a few hours (who's staying at least a week), and I know I won't get as much done while they're here. But then, Shoulder To The Wheel, Part 2.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Year, New You - Prompt, "Asking For Help".

I've enlisted Second Husband's aid with The Stuff. Not that First Husband is disinterested, but after 12 hours at/getting to & from work, remembering to hound me about meditating or going to the barn or what-have-you is harder for him.

The barn's a wash today; it's cold and raining pretty hard and my legs are still killing me from Saturday's riding lesson (lots of trotting so as to help wear out the Pumpkin Pony for a younger, smaller rider who was on him next) and some ill-advised pole dancing later in the evening (don't ask).

The tapering-off of the smoking is frigging killing me, and while I'm not doing as well as I'd like, I'm doing something, at least.

I've also gotten help I didn't ask for. Co-Wife, seeing my struggles with the old laptop, surprised me with a new one on Thursday. It is tiny and beautiful and does no weird stuff and I love it. I also got an invite from our own Foundress of the Feast, Dropout Dilettante, to talk with her about glamour and what it means to me. Hopefully, I won't shock her too terribly or make her feel the need to call "Intervention".

But Co-Wife is out finding us a new fridge, so I'm off to sit by the phone in case I need to render assistance.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Year, New You - Prompt, Shoulder to the Wheel.

I've been slackassing.

The diet/eating what I should be eating has been started and blown back out of the water repeatedly. I blame the holidays, numerous get-togethers, and my own annoying lack of discipline.

I haven't been out to the barn the three times a week I'd pledged at our family Yule sumbel.

Magic? Nope. Not a bit. Hell, I haven't even really been keeping up with the writing prompts - the one about glamour leaves me stymied anyway - I'm a barn girl who has to dig through all her jeans to find the one pair that isn't stained by various and sundry horsestuff.

So, of course, conversation with the Evil Voice has ensued.

ME: WTF is wrong with me? Why can't I get my ass out to the barn? The three times I've worked him since Yule, it's gone beautifully - hell, the summer off seems to have given him time to re-grasp certain concepts. I ought to be out there every day, singing a happy little song. Why can't I meditate every day? There's really nothing stopping me. And the diet? I mean, the not-fitting-in-half-my-clothes ought to be motivation.
EVIL VOICE: I don't know. But maybe it's harder than it needs to be because you aren't doing what you're supposed to be doing. Maybe you seriously need to get together with the Witches (aside from me: hi, Trothwy and Evn!) and talk about doing Crafting in the Craft once a week.
ME: (sighs) I know.
EVIL VOICE: Maybe you need to consider that giving your gods ten minutes after you've fed the cats every night is hardly a sacrifice or an unreachable goal.
ME: Dammnit, I know.
EVIL VOICE: So what's stopping you? Besides you, I mean.
ME: IknowIknowIknow.
EVIL VOICE: You still here? Because it seems like your ass should no longer be in this chair.
ME: (slouches off, muttering dire imprecations about the Evil Voice)

This goes up on the bathroom mirror today -
"Grab it like somebody's trying to take it away from you, which is true: time and age and death and your own limiting voices and all the many more important and less selfish things you have to do today. Fuck 'em."
- Marion Winik, "The Sick Jock Guide - Ten Steps to Late-Life Fitness"