This post is dedicated to my trans friend -they know who they are- who in a Facebook conversation the other day reminded me that I need to qualify further what I wrote in my last diary extract about balancing ‘male’ and ‘female’ energies.
The other day I wrote about the idea that whatever gender (or indeed sex) we identify as, it is a healthy thing to strive for a balance in energies, in what have arbitrarily been identified or constructed in mainstream society as ‘male’ and ‘female’. In other words, to be balanced in will power and outward directed energy (traditionally ‘male’) and love or receptive -not passive- energy (traditionally ‘female’).
I accept the full range of gender and sex identities. I accept that binary (male and female as ‘opposite’) and stereotyped sex and gender identifications are limiting at best and at worst literally destructive of lives. Nevertheless, to rephrase / expand myself, I think that a balance within a person of the arbitrarily ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, however the person identifies on the sex / gender spectrums, is ultimately strengthening for the person’s identity.
In other words, I don’t see a problem with identifying ‘male’ as ‘outward’, of focused ‘hunting’ will-power; and ‘female’ as ‘receptive’ and ‘gathering’. You may tell me I’m wrong; I am a privileged white man, afterall. For me, ‘hunting’ is only a problem when it is the malicious hunting of living beings (actually or psychologically), just as ‘gathering’ only becomes a problem when it is poison that is gathered (actually or psychologically.)
But I am aware I could be / will be accused of gender essentialism. This is what my friend alerted me to the other day. The kind of spirituality I have been hinting at could be described as ‘Pagan’ or ‘Neopagan’ (how many quotation marks have I used in this post?) so I am compelled to answer the question, ‘Is Paganism guilty of gender essentialism?’. I use the word ‘guilty’ lightly, to be understood easily by queer folk and feminists.
As a genderwild or gender rebel mystic, I explore whatever resonates with me, from whatever origin, including all historically established ‘world religions’; and certainly Paganism and so-called magic(k) have been an influence on my thinking and practice, as well as Taoism, which also has clear ideas of ‘male’ and ‘female’.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about gender essentialism:
‘Gender essentialism is the theory that there are certain universal, innate, biologically- or psychologically-based features of gender that are at the root of observed differences in the behavior of men and women’
-but please note that Wikipedia also claims that ‘there are problems’ with the definition and discussion that has been submitted to their page.
By the above definition, it is easily arguable that Paganism tends towards gender essentialism. (Prove me wrong?)
But what if I use Paganism to discern traits of masculinity and femininity that I believe are common to all human beings, including the whole spectrums of sex and gender? What if I think that discerning between ‘male’ and ‘female’ traits within any individual, can help them become more balanced within themselves; whatever the identity of that person?
Whatever judgements you may have about these issues; can you discuss them with me? Can you inform me and help me improve? Can we improve together? Can you keep your judgements on hold? For me, balance is everything.
I am grateful for your patience. Gratitude is the second practice of this genderwild mystic. I like to identify it as a ‘female’ quality, common to all.