Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The mask of the Goddess

Modern Paganism is full of feminine symbolism. The moon, the sea. Flowers, fruit. Hearth and vessel. These symbols have given women dozens of unspoken ways of saying to the world, "My energy makes the world go around just as much as a man's energy does. We are intuitive and fluid. We are fertile and nurturing. Your world would be nothing without us."

There is just one problem with this set of symbols: it distracts people from the fact that women are human. To be fully human, one has to be able to participate in the entire human experience, not just the aspects of it that your gender currently symbolizes. My concern is that embracing these symbols could ultimately make it more difficult for all people to access all the human activities available to them. This applies equally to men and women; both have the right to everything humanity has to offer.

It took a long time for women to be taken seriously in scientific communities because science required the ability to reason. This had nothing to do with what women and men were actually capable of, but what "woman" and "man" had come to represent symbolically. Yes, symbols can be liberating, but they can also become quite limiting if you let them.

Yes, women can intuit. But they can also reason. We can give and nurture life, but we can also fight. We can show compassion, but we also reserve the right you exercise judgment. To put on the mask of the Goddess is to lose half of your humanity. I'm not saying the mask has nothing positive to offer the world, but like all symbols it must be used with an awareness of its limitations.

(Oops, I'm getting this in a day late this time. I'd better keep an eye on that.)

Next post: Wednesday, October 17