The current dust-up.

It’s been an interesting week in the blogosphere.

I’ve been watching with interest the responses to Del’s post entitled “We Can Learn A Lot From Things That Annoy Us, Or What I Figured Out About The Proliferation Of Loki’s Wives Online”. The overwhelming majority have been supportive and engaged in a discussion. A not-insignificant minority has taken to the proverbial streets with cries of sexism and discrimination against cis-gender women and anger at how someone could be critical of another’s spiritual practices.

One of the most intriguing and trainwreck-y parts of this has been the absolute rampant expression of privilege among the angry masses. I made a comment somewhere about how I find it absurd that Tumblr, where the anger really started, is so focused on being anti-oppression, anti-racist, and anti-cultural-appropriation yet is missing the boat entirely on the privilege associated with both being cis-gender and by not having your religious and spiritual beliefs and practices questioned by your spiritual and/or religious community.

That’s not to say that I believe pagan OR Godspouses and consorts have it easy—we don’t and not being a part of a mainstream faith or practice puts us at a disadvantage in terms of social power dynamics. However, what people seem to be missing the boat on is that even within minority groups [pagans, women, trans* people] there are power dynamics that result in inherent inequality and it seems that, this week, ain’t no one trying to recognize that.

I admit that, as a trans* person, I may be a bit biased. I have seen and felt first hand the kinds of dismissive gestures that have come from Godspouses and consorts who identify themselves as female. I have been told explicitly that I should be exploring other relationship dynamics with my God, as people ‘like me’ don’t have those relationships with Deity. I’ve seen it implicitly said that the role of a spouse to a God is inherently feminine. I’ve seen prominent Godspouses and consorts write that they couldn’t possibly fathom that their Husband/Lover could have homosexual relations with a devotee or another Deity, or that They could not possibly gender-bend in the least. I’ve been told that I should stick with Deities Who have lore that supports my existence, as if a Deity Who only presents as male or female could never be interested in me because I do not identify with the body I was born with. When I started looking into what being the consort of a God might mean, as I was getting inklings that this might be a possibility, I only found female-identified people posting about things solely as if they were the domain of women and only women. Hell, it took me close to three years to even accept that being the consort of a God was a possibility for me and it’s taken at least another year for me to feel comfortable identifying myself as a consort.

I’ve already been told that I shouldn’t let what other people say or do affect my spiritual beliefs and maybe, in an ideal world, I wouldn’t—but that’s just not how the world works. When we start out, we all look somewhere else for some kind of validation, whether it’s writing to a Godspouse of our Deity who has been doing this for a long time and excitedly sharing our new-found revelation or by asking another Godspouse or devotee for a reading about our situation. This is part of the process of ‘growing up’ spiritually. This is why we have mentors and teachers and elders.

Possibly the most disturbing exchanges I have experienced this week have been with some female-identified Godspouses and consorts. When I bring up the issues around how trans*, gender-variant, and male-assigned Godspouses and consorts are treated and what they experience, I get a lot of ‘yes, but..’. People seem willing to recognize that there is a problem, but seem absolutely unwilling to engage with it or willing to do anything to address it. I’ve seen the experience of being a trans* person in a relationship with a God completely dismissed. I’ve watched someone say something to the effect of ‘when gender gets brought up, I just shut off’. I’ve certainly watched plenty of female-identified people completely ignore that they have privilege in the community of Godspouses. When a group of people have the majority, they have privilege, and, in my travels, it seems like some female-identified Godspouses and consorts are unwilling to admit this.

I’ve been outright dismissed when speaking about my experiences as a trans* person in the Godspouse community and it fucking sucks because it shows me unequivocally that pagans are no more enlightened or self-aware than any other group of people. It has caused me to realize that *I* have been privileged in being active in a pagan community that is chock full of trans* and gender-variant people and this has caused me to believe that other pagans are as aware and as educated as my friends on issues of gender, inherent power dynamics, and privilege. This is where I have failed myself—I’ve placed too much of my experiences on other people and I have to realize the hard way that the pagan community is pretty uncomfortable with the idea that Gods/Spirits can embrace and lover and being sexual with someone who is gender-variant. This is not your failing, but mine.

However, that doesn’t let the Godspouse community off the hook in the slightest. Out of curiosity, this afternoon I went around to all the Godspouse FAQs that I know about and you know what? Not one of them has been changed to address issues of gender. Not one. It seems every one wants to point fingers, but no one is willing to make changes and that’s damn sad. I feel grateful that I have a solid identity and relationship with Mr. Mister now because, if I didn’t and was just starting out again now, I would very likely throw up my hands and decide that, based upon what I’ve seen, there is no place for me.

Of course, this doesn’t even address the real point of the post Del made—that the wholesale-ing of the experience of being a Godspouse to young women who are in relationships with Deity needs to friggin’ stop. It’s harmful. It devalues their actual experiences and puts them in a place where they think there is only one road to the Divine. It crosses out every other possible experience of being a devotee of a God/Spirit and places one option ahead as the only valid way to express yourself. It seems to be going over people’s heads that they need to stop and evaluate how they interact with others and what biases they bring to the table when they speak to other devotees of their God. It’s becoming that, if you want a meaningful relationship with Deity, you must be in a spousal or consort relationship with Them. By doing this, we are crushing the idea that everyone MUST have their own powers of discernment. Watching young women [because that’s where it’s happening the most] decide they are meant to be married to a God after first contact is painful. Would you marry a mortal on a first date? Do you assume that everyone you date is going to join you in a marriage?

THAT’S the point. Del is encouraging discernment and self-awareness and this somehow got twisted into an expression of sexism. Of course, this also trotted out the homophobia and transphobia that had been previously hidden but, to me, that’s a good thing. Maybe it will cause someone to re-examine their beliefs and interactions with their Gods. I sure know it’s challenged mine.

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~ by Alex on March 26, 2013.

20 Responses to “The current dust-up.”

  1. The “you need to marry [x deity] right away” also perpetuates this idea that women are only worth something if they’re /married/. It’s so gross, and I don’t get why people can’t see that :/

    • I hadn’t even thought of it like that, but that’s pretty solid.

    • I was seeing that too, but I was pretty much already in the dog house at that point, so I didn’t even go there. But yeah, I remember when feminism was about aschewing marriage in exchange for self-built relationships based on equality and without all the baggage of what people expect a marriage to be like. In fact, in a really effed up way, I think the swing back towards marriage being seen as accepted by radicals is specifically because of the same-sex marriage debate, which was really started by the Republicans, not the LGBT community; by saying they were against same-sex marriage, they could dress up their homophobia without having to admit it outright. It’s not about the gays, it’s about the sanctity of … in other words, gays have nothing sacred, and bring only profanity to anything spiritual.

      Then you turn to the God spouse community, where there’s a bunch of women-identified people writing about marriage in the most traditional of senses; I had someone try to explain to me that non-hetero God spousery was too hard for most men because being a God spouse was “receptive”, and therefore “feminine” by nature. It enforces generations-old gender stereotypes that make me want to hurl.

      I also find it interesting that there’s all this communal support for very young God spouses – Rock of Eye showed me the journal of one as young as 18. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was 18, if my friends talked about getting married we all thought that was ridiculously too young to be thinking of such things. And yet, somehow, making the exact same oaths to a God, lifelong oaths (I mean, I’ve been through two mortal divorces, and have seen a handful of God divorces, and I’ll choose the mortal ones hands down, as sucktastic as they have been for me!), and no one thinks to ask this woman to wait. Not to say *no*, but just to wait and see what her life becomes in the next decade or so, and then re-evaluate from there.

      Many spirit workers have written about the fact that our sense of time and the Gods are very different. Often, a request from the Gods that feels oh-so-pressing to us, is really a “sometime in the next ten years or so” for them. And if anyone, God or otherwise, can’t respect that a person isn’t ready to make a lifelong commitment and all they want is more time to figure out what it means and how it will affect them, I don’t care who it is, they don’t deserve whatever they’re asking for.

      • I would like to talk about being…courted, I suppose, and also how even if there is a heavy, undeniable romantic relationship with one of my gods it doesn’t seem to be leading towards marriage, but I also don’t want to start acting like an educator about it, but. I really want to talk about how it isn’t a ‘womanly’ or ‘receptive’ (what even does that mean, really?) thing. And one of the ways we’re gonna change the climate is to talk out.

        Ugh, my thoughts are all over the place but – I agree with the time comment; we really need to be aware of that and I’m sick of seeing it get ignored in a lot of (tumblr) communities; we CAN say no and need to educate people that they can; we CAN say ‘wait’, and anyone that tells you to hurry (especially a human that wants you to oath to a god) needs to back off and possibly be labeled as a crappy resource; and for the love of the gods we don’t need to oath or marry a god to engage in romantic or sexual relationships with them. (rants) Basically, I agree and agree and agree.

  2. I think maybe the cis-gender remarks could have been a *tad* more. . . politic, but y’know what? There’s an important point to be understood beneath all of this and whining about how it was worded is just a way to avoid it.

    Godspousery is kind of fad amongst some newcomers right now. This has become a thing the “cool girls” are doing. It leaves the people who don’t consider it a fad feeling bruised, though.

    Del made me reconsider some things, too.

    • Exactly. People aren’t interested in the actual discussion because the actual discussion is difficult and uncomfortable.

    • What worries me is, if godspousery is a fad right now, what happens when folk who rushed into it decide that it isn’t for them and they want out? The gods often care more about what we say than what we *mean*, and may hold people to commitments that they made with less than a full heart.

  3. See, and here’s a great example of why I “turn off” . . . either taking what I said out of context (which is what I’m assuming is happening here) or not actually reading what I wrote (which I’m assuming that you did and, for the benefit of making your point, decided to misrepresent or misunderstand it) does absolutely nothing toward fostering useful dialogue. It’s frustrating, because of all those who are part of the “mostly-enough-so-as-to-make-no-never-mind cisgendered”, I think I was one of the least offended, pretty willing to see the point other people were making. So, in the interest of trying to continue with useful conversation that may end up somewhere beneficial for someone, what I actually said was:

    “I feel badly, but often when gender issues come up I sort of mentally turn off, the same way I do when people start talking about privilege. I don’t *mean* to, and I’m working on it (and I realize that turning off about it is a privilege in and of itself, but I’m incredibly insular, living a semi-secluded lifestyle, and that’s something I’ve done in part so I could turn off when I needed to) but it devolves so fast into them-versus-us back and forths that I can’t help wondering what the point is. I don’t expect other people to fight my fights for me, or at least, to fight my fights while I ignore my fights, if that makes sense. The fact that folks who are not cisgendered have fights to fight does not meant that cisgender folks do not also have fights to fight, nor does it render one groups fights more or less important than another groups fights. Yes, it may be less important to *you* (generic) but that’s obvious, since one’s fights are one’s fights and not all fights can belong to all people.”

    Gender issues are generally not something I deal with on a regularly bases beyond the issues women face in a male- dominant society, and even those, even the things my gender faces, that my forebears have died for so that I may . . .have a job, vote, be considered a person . .. I don’t regularly face/think about/do anything about because those particular fights are not my fights in life. If I don’t make the battles that my own gender faces my own every day battles, how could you expect me to make the battles other genders face my every day battles? Why does anyone other than me get to decide what my battles are, in my life? (I’m not trying to be accusatory, I’m genuinely asking, because it boggles my mind). And, for the record, I’m not exactly *proud* at how much I take for granted that I can have a job, live on my own with my partner in our not-exactly-normal relationship, that I can have the things that make me not as obviously white-middle class-privileged as I appear. Like I said in the comment above, I’m working on it. Shall I then also be dishonest about it, too?

    The reason that people *do* mentally turn off is in part because these are HUGE issues, they are never ending, there is always another one, and people do not seem willing to want to talk about them without going into the us-versus-them camp, which is not productive.

    If it will make you happy, I’ll say it: women have the privilege in the godspouse community. There. Better? But, you know, five years ago, that wasn’t the case. Ten years ago, it *certainly* wasn’t the case. Ten years ago people were JUST starting to talk about it, and let me tell you, because I was there — if the ridicule that we got because of talking about it then caused other folks to not talk about their own relationships, I would not be the least bit surprised. Especially within Heathenry, which can be very very conservative, it was very much a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Combine that with the “ergi” bullshit, I am not at all surprised that folks who are not cisgendered or folks who are not female would find it difficult to talk about this shit.

    The thing that people want to forget is, ten years ago when people were barely talking about it at all, when Freya Asywnn was the only one who was talking about it (and there’s a yardstick to measure yourself against), those of us who started talking about it despite that did not have the support and acceptance of “The Community”. We had the support of the people we actually knew, had interacted with in person, and often “support” meant, they otherwise respected us and decided to not pass judgment on this bit that they found . . . unlikely. And, I’ll say this too — yes, having been in that situation, forging forward despite how barely there the trail was, yes, we have the responsibility to say, “This is a valid path.” And, from what I’ve seen? We. Do. I know I do.

    I don’t *care* what gender a person is, and I don’t care what gender they see their God as. It’s none of my business, it’s not my call to say this is okay or this isn’t okay, and if anyone actually interacts with me on this, they’ll *know* that. Maybe I’ve got thicker skin than some people, maybe I’m disconnected from my species, maybe a hundred other things, but I genuinely don’t *care*. Interacting with me, one will learn early on that the lines and compartments and boxes we have as a society do not factor into how I even think about the world. I’ve been called cold before because of that, so it’s okay if that’s where you go.

    And this is why I balk. Because you’re saying, it is my call to make. By my having to say to people (what, at the beginning of every godspouse post?) that “I’m mostly cisgendered, but any way of being a godspouse is okay,” that’s me having to give them permission to be what they are called to be in life.

    I don’t expect permission from other people, and I don’t expect other people to want it from me.

    • Also: I need to add the caveat that I am not on Tumblr, am not exposed to whatever all is going on, on Tumblr, will not be joining Tumblr, etc. So, my experience is limited to blogs and, once upon a time, LJ. I’m not sure if that’s relevant, and, if so, *how* relevant, to the discussion.

    • Not speaking for anyone but myself.

      I want to try to answer your honest question, since you posed it as such. As a female-sexed, male identified, disabled, fat, queer, poly, kinky shaman (and those aren’t even all my checkyboxes), what I’ve come to understand is that if we all try to look out for each other equally, to take a few moments to explain the difference between how it works for us and how it might work for other people, we *all* benefit.

      For example, I teach classes about sex. Now, my own personal sexual experience is very tied up in having a female-sexed body, and the majority of the people I have had sex with have or had male-sexed bodies. However, when I speak on things sexual, I make sure to use inclusive language (like, “internal genitalia” and “external genitalia” rather than “girl bits and boy bits”). When I give examples I specifically give ones that include experiences of people who approach sex differently, especially when that difference isn’t the direct point. (like, if I’m talking about using condoms, I’ll tell a story about a cisgender man and a transgender woman discussing condoms, but in a way that people with other bodies can also relate to the material. I don’t assume people have the same physical abilities that I do, and I include images and examples of people of all different body shapes and assistive devices engaging in whatever I’m talking about.

      I think part of this argument goes back to the difference between a blog and a journal. If you’re very clearly and purposefully only documenting your own experiences as a God spouse, then speaking directly to and only about your personal experiences is not at all problematic to me. It’s when people write for a more general audience – what I would call a “blog” – or create a FAQ about God Spousery (or anything else related to spirituality and gender, really) – or in some other way go from speaking casually as just another lump of clay on the planet, to being a spokesperson, educator, authority, elder, or shaman; that’s when the game changes. Even if your personal experience of God sex is all anal all the time, and it always looks like masturbation with intent (whether or not that’s what it really is), creating a FAQ that speaks to all forms of God Sex as being anal masturbation is not only exclusionary, but factually incorrect. When I wrote my post on God Sex, I listed five or six different types, and then very openly asked others to add their personal experiences (especially if they weren’t covered by the post) to the comments, so the piece could become a reference for those interested in the subject. At no time did I travel even into the “some, many, most” arena ( a linguistic thing used in sex ed; rather than saying “everyone” or “no one”, to comment on whether or not a sexual practice is common or uncommon, you use “some, many, most” to be more inclusive.) – I just said, “these are the kinds I know about, if you know other kinds, please put them in the comments so as to enrich the post.

      If more blogs and FAQs and other places that purport to be informational sources about divine relationships would use that sort of language, this whole issue would be a lot less pressing.

      I also feel the argument “It was hard for us ten years ago, so it’s totally okay for it to be hard for other people now” is privilege at work. (And please take note: I use that word very sparingly, as I tend to hate conversations that bring it up all the time too). It’s frequently an argument given to trans* people who are involved in LGB activism: if we just hang in there and help them get married and receive partner benefits, someday it might be safe (and legal) for us to use a public restroom.

      Is it cisgender women’s sole responsibility to create more dialog around trans* and gender-variant inclusion? Of course not. But I feel cisgender women could have a more tolerant and inclusive attitude, because of the exclusionary and intolerant attitudes we dually share in parts of mainstream society. When we speak about a God’s love for His/Her/Their people, something that makes us feel good and inspired and accepted, why wouldn’t we take that same opportunity to share that feeling with people who live similar, but not the same, lives?

      And I’ll even give you this: if your God or Goddess (let’s use Jif, the God of Peanut Butter for this example), if Jif gives you and some of his other God spouses the direct UPG that Jif is a He, and He only digs cisgender women, I think that’s something that’s fine to write about. Even if there’s a separate gaggle of Jif follwers who say that Jif is a She and She only digs women. I believe all of the Gods are as, if not more, multifaceted as we humans are, and it’s totally possible that He Jif and She Jif are the same Jif, just creating groves of believers with very different tasks in mind. As long as you’re willing to make it clear that it’s your gaggle’s own UPG, and give a mention to the fact that other people worship and work with Jif differently, then have at!

      • commenting here, because I will read this and come back to it, but I’m out of time this morning. I don’t want you to think I saw it, since I responded to Alex below, and am ignoring it.

      • Wish I could edit that comment to be the actual response, and save space that way. Ah well.

        I’ve been thinking about this entire topic — your post at your blog and the comments, the various other posts that I’ve seen, the comments I’ve read at this point, etc — all day at work, because truly, I don’t think this many people would get this riled up if there was nothing that needed to be addressed. There are things that I’ve read that have been good for me to read, things I’ve had to think about, things that have riled me. This is all positive, even if at times I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall. I’m realizing that I need to step out of this discussion because, when you are talking about cisgendered women being more tolerant and compassionate, you aren’t talking about me, you aren’t talking about (as far as I’m concerned) the people I interact with who are tolerant and compassionate, and it’s not my place to defend those who you are talking about, because they can defend themselves or not, as they see fit. I am still, continually *confused* — I don’t know how else to say it. Baffled, boggled, I don’t understand people — about gender-as-we-relate-to-the-gods-and-spirits being a *thing*, and until I get past that confusion, I need to just shut up about it. So, I’m gonna.

        I appreciate the time that folks have put into this discussion. If nothing else, it’s been educational, and anything that gets one to think, even if one ends up in the same place on was beforehand, is a positive thing, in my book.

      • Thank you. I think where we agree, at least for now, is that whether the post was bad, good, indifferent, sexist, anti-sexist, closeminded, judgemental, too liberal, or not harsh enough – it did one thing right, which was get people talking about a whole slew of things. Great posts about misogyny in spirit work. About genderqueer and trans* people’s experiences with their Gods, including the fact that some feel that their gender has *everything* to do with it, and some who feel their gender has *nothing* to do with it. And discussion is good. It gets people sharing. It makes us open up and tell our story, whether its an angry response calling me a sexist pig or a supportive post telling people I’m just telling it like it really is. Some of my opinions have changed, and some of them have been strengthened. All of it – is beneficial in some way or another.

    • FWIW, I wasn’t referring to your comment and hadn’t even seen yours. What I was referring to was a comment that someone had said to the effect of exactly what I said–that when gender issues come up, they shut off. I can’t lay my hands on the link right now, but when I find it again, I’ll be sure to post it.

      I think the fact that people can find themselves in a place to ‘turn off’ their responses to the differences is rather boggling. Maybe it’s because I’m gender non-normative, but I just cannot see that as a happy way to live. I really hate to trot out the word again, since I really hate how it is used in conversation casually, but it is a privilege to be able to do that, as you mentioned. Where the rub comes for me is that, largely, in this conversation, people have been unwilling to examine and deconstruct that privilege and how it affects other people when they place their experiences online in a way that is accessible by others.

      It is my expectation [and perhaps it is a flawed one] that people who have power of any kind will use that power to benefit someone who is less advantaged then themselves. I am a trans* person and that brings it’s own unique set of challenges in current society, but that doesn’t stop me from advocating for a trans* person who also happens to be a person of color. Yes, I have my own bullshit to deal with every day but I have enough personal power to say something when I see something fucked up happening to a person who may be more disadvantaged than me.

      Comparing how things are now to how things were ten years ago and saying that because it was hard then for women it should be hard now for a trans* person only perpetuates injustice and an attitude that people should have to suffer for what they believe in. I feel like that kind of stance only allows things to continue exactly as they have been without any changes and that, overall, just creates a system of inequality.

      No one is asking cis-gender women to negate their experiences as cis-gender women. What is being asked for is a little compassion and recognition. If you present information on being a Godspouse, be inclusive about it. Note that not all Godspouses are female. Explore publicly the ideas that Gods/Spirits are not all heterosexual in nature. Be open and welcoming of UPG that doesn’t match your own. That’s the kind of stuff that, to me, goes a long, long way and it’s stuff that I just don’t see.

      • Thanks for the response, Alex. Since it wasn’t my comment you were talking about, I apologize for assuming that it was. Considering that I said what I said in a place where you might have seen it, I’m not sure the assumption was unreasonable, but, I see I was wrong in it, and so, I apologize.

        Specifically speaking for me (and thus hoping to give some insight into why people might “turn off” over any given topic that is a personal battle for other people, at least as far as there are reasons, everyone has their limits, we have to be selective in the battles we choose and know our limits, etc.) I dance, constantly, on the edge of apathy. I acknowledge this. My daily struggle is to make sure I don’t return to that place, and to approach humanity with compassion. There are days when just being able to go outside my house takes everything I have to give, and I have nothing left to then give to issues that are important to me. When I need to, so that I can cope, I “turn off” from issues that are not my personal front line. Obviously (or, I hope it’s obvious from my commenting on these topics) I come back to them, I do not just turn away for good. I pick my battles. (if it helps give some perspective: I’m not heterosexual, a signficant amount of my nearest and dearest are not heterosexual. I acknowledge that, depending on where you are, the struggles the LGB part of the LGBT community do not face quite what the trans part of the community faces, but not facing exactly the same amount of vitriol isn’t the same as being privilege, in my few. And, yes, my not-het hides pretty well in meatlife since I’m not in a partnership with a human anyway. )

        Is it a happy way to life, to be able to turn off when needed to get through the day? Of course not. And, yes, it *is* a privilege to be able to do that at all. Again, it’s a privilege that I have largely paid for, as in purchased, in my choice of lifestyle. I live clear across the country from most of my loved ones, in part so that I can have the room to live my life the way I need to. I go to my day job, I come home, I write, I meditate, I do my Work, I worship, I do my chores. I have a huge geographical distance between myself and most of those who care about me and love me, because I cannot hold on to my true self with the pressure of their (well-meaning) expectations against me. That’s my failing, not theirs, and I admit that. But, that’s the cost of this privilege I’ve bought myself. And, as I’ve said before, I’m not comfortable with it — which is why I come back to these difficult topics and conversations. Because they’re important.

        By your reasoning of power “that people having any kind of power to benefit those of lesser power,” I should very likely be a child advocate. I’m not going to go into the details of my childhood other than to say, it was long (and short, at least in terms of getting to be a child) and it was violent. And I survived. I don’t believe that I owe it to other children in similar situations to burn myself out trying to solve all the violent issues children in abusive homes suffer. For I while, I thought I did, and it bugged me a lot that I wasn’t in a place to offer help. I don’t want to be in child services, I don’t want to be a counselor, I don’t want to be in law enforcement. I want to live my life, worship my gods, write what I am meant to write. And, yeah, a lot of what I write touches on abuse and the stories of abuse.

        I didn’t bring up how things were ten years ago because they were so hard for women — and it’s possible that communication is not happening as well as it could be because, on my part, I don’t approach the world with an awareness of “my womanhood.” I am just me, and so, when I think about how things were for godspouses ten years ago, I think, they were hard, and I’m not sure why people think it should suddenly be easy. I don’t think that, since it was hard for women it should now be hard for trans person. It’s entirely likely that I wasn’t clear enough about that. I brought up how things were for women to illustrate that this thing where ciswomen are a majority (in a small minority) is a *new* thing. I think that, living your life and being true to who you are is hard and will always be hard and the expectation that other people must accept you/looking for validation from other people isn’t the right way to go.

        What I write on my blog is personal. I write it, ultimately, for Poseidon, and for the people it may help. I share bits of myself that I otherwise might not just on the off chance it might help someone, at some point. I write with the understanding, the assumption, that what is true for me may not be true for you. And I write with the assumption that those reading will have the ability to read critically and think critically, that they’ll know that they are to take out the words and world-view of my experiences that do not apply to them, and take what does. I don’t generally talk about other people and their paths on my blog; I expect them, if that’s what they want to do, to that themselves. It’s understood, to me, that people who are called to their gods are called to their gods, and that’s the understanding I write from. I’m not going to change that to writing from a stance of expecting people to expect me to hold their hands and approve their paths, because that’s not my place.

        It comes back a bit, for me, to the writer adage of ‘write what you know’. I will not, will not, write about other life experiences, outside of a fictional setting, as if I can possibly hope to understand them. I’m not going to write for a . . .well, for anyone married to anyone else. I can *only* write about *my* marriage to Poseidon, when I write about it at all.

  4. Wow, you really managed to take Jolene’s comment out of context, didn’t you? But I’ll let her defend herself on that one, if she wishes. What she did NOT say was that you had no right to your own gender identification or sexual preference; only you and Del have said that.

    If people took Del’s words out of context, it’s because he didn’t express himself very well, frankly. By one throwaway comment, he managed to alienate me (NOT even remotely a newbie, but definitely an ultrafemme cisgendered woman) and a number of others who also agreed with MOST of what he had to say. For example, I agree that no one should become a godspouse lightly, and have recently posted on this very topic myself (“So You Wanna Be a Godspouse?”? which was a fairly viral post in its own right.) I agree that godspoiusery has become something of a fad, and that post happened mostly to counteract the droves of young women who were approaching ME for seidhr answers to the question of whether they were meant to be a godspouse, because the most common answers I was getting from the gods were “no” and “maybe but not now, not until you’re older or have your life together.” I have also, when people have emailed me through the years asking about being a godspouse, consistently tried to impress upon them the immense weight of sacred responsibility it involves. But you can’t make people listen to you, and certainly yelling on the internet that they need to shut up and listen to their elders is not the answer. (And, I will point out once again, I qualify as one of said elders, since I think I’ve been around as long as anyone else in this demographic, although “elder” is still a title I would hesitate to use–and I am certainly no one’s “grannie”–not until my daughter has kids.)

    So yes, a lot of us agree that there is a n00bageddon going on right now, and that there is really no way of stopping it. But you know what? I think the gods can take care of it, without any help from us. Some of the newbies will mature and learn and contribute; others will drift away, and perhaps pay the price of broken oaths. I don’t think it’s our responsibility to clean up that particular mess; we can’t hold everyone’s hand, and once again, the gods have got this. I have enough faith in Them to be sure of that. In the meantime, why not just stop reading the newbie blogs? I know I certainly have not had time to read any of the stuff you and Del have mentioned in your posts, and when I find a blog to be objectionable I simply stop reading it and go on about my business.

    You’re absolutely right, too, it does take courage (I hesitate to use the word “balls” in the current discussion) to come out as a godspouse, and you are fortunate to be supported by a largely trans and trans-friendly spirit work community, even if there are few trans godspouses among them. But when I came out, ten years ago, there was only ONE other godspouse I knew of before I actually took my vows, and she proved to be less than friendly to anyone else claiming to share her vaunted title. But I wasn’t expecting support or validation, which is a good thing, since through the years I have gotten very little of it. You say I’m in the majority, but it has felt to me quite the opposite, since the most vocal group of spirit workers out there is largely trans focused and has taken little to no interest in me and my UPG that seems to differ so much from theirs. However, I have not allowed that to stop me from “telling my story,” to borrow Del’s phrase, and neither should you or anyone else. What you should not, and cannot, expect, however, is that people who do not belong to your demographic are obligated somehow to fight your battles for you. I am truly sorry that you have felt alienated, and I fully support your right to whatever relationship with your god/s is right for you. I don’t think I have ever questioned that, and I’m not sure which “prominent godspouses” have. The only Godspouse FAQ I’m familiar with is Heather’s, and she certainly supports that as well. I have said before and will say again, I do not EVER want to be that person who comes between someone and their god.

    However, my story is still mine to tell, my blog is my own and reflects my own experiences, nothing more and nothing less. I do not discuss explicit sex with Odin there, not because of fear of offending anyone but because it is private and sacred and sharing it would compromise His privacy, let alone mine. However, if I use “heteroassumptive” language at all (and I’m not even sure that I do) it’s because I am describing my OWN experience. You’ve talked about minorities and privilege. Besides being a woman, I am also the adopted daughter of a black man and the mother of a mixed race daughter, in addition to being “invisibly ill.” So I understand a bit about privilege, but I’m astonished that you and Del seem to think being in the majority in this one tiny little arena (godspousery) can make up for being marginalized and in the minority in every single other area of our lives, for our ENTIRE lives, not to mention for most of human history. Sorry, but I have my own battles to fight, and your refusal to see that has eroded much of the sympathy I would otherwise have had for your plight. I endured more than ten years of a verbally abusive mortal marriage (in which I was consistently told that I was nothing and meant nothing) before Odin rescued me from that situation, and then I had to endure even more years after that of struggling for financial survival and my mental health while desperately searching–usually in vain, and waaay before the internet was as prevalent or informative as it is now–for some group in either mainstream heathenry or NT paganism that might, possibly, accept me. I finally had to carve my own path, with His help, from the corpse of my former life, with no one but Jolene and occasionally one or two other friendly voices. So at this point, I am very much done modeling my life to please any males other than my Husband.

    • As noted above, I wasn’t referring to whatever comment you think I was referring to–it was something said in a different forum and I can’t lay my hands on it again now despite some searching. When I find it, I will post it.

      No one has asked anyone to model their lives to please anyone but their Gods. What has been asked is that people consider their public presentation of such as words take on life on the internet whether we believe it or want it or not, and that they work to be inclusive and not perpetuate models of heterocentricity in their words.

      I am not and have not asked anyone to fight my battles for me, as they are mine and mine alone. What I have asked is that those in the majority [I disagree with you strongly that trans* spiritworkers are the norm–for every blog and webpresence by a trans* person, I could easily name ten more by cis-gender individuals] recognize the minority and, at the very least, try not to work against them. Not working against them means actively being inclusive, using gender-friendly language and terms that are not heterocentric, and realizing that one’s experience is not the be-all, end-all.

      I’ve never once said that women do not experience hardship out in the world. What I have said is that, in this very small community, women are the majority and there are things that come with that. You certainly don’t have to engage with them–that’s is definitely your choice–but engaging/not engaging reveals truths that some people like to leave covered up. I’m not interested in playing the oppression olympics, but you are not the only person who has experienced dreadfully abusive relationships, health crises, financial instability, mental health issues, and a lack of belonging in pursuit of one’s Gods

  5. I am sorry if anything I have ever said or done, Alex, has made you feel as if I was being dismissive of you. I don’t think your relationship with Mr. Mister is any less significant than the one I have with Loki. FWIW, I *don’t* have a purely het/cis relationship with Himself, but it’s not something I’ve talked about because when I write about loving Him, I feel I’m not doing it from a spousal perspective so much as that of a mystic — and mysticism is a path that aims to develop deep love for one’s gods regardless of one’s relationship to Them (child, comrade, spouse, servant, etc.) I probably should blog about that. At any rate, it never occurred to me that I was contributing to the problem, and for that I apologize.

    Ironically, I hear you about being surprised by the fact that many Pagans are sort of clueless about their het/cis privilege. It’s something I tend to forget as well, hanging around Asphodel and spiritworkers, until I go to a mainstream Pagan event where queers and trans* folk are practically invisible and everyone’s talking about female-bodied people being expressions of “the Goddess” and so forth. It’s kind of disconcerting.

  6. Thank you for your comment, Alex. Jolene’s comment was posted on Laurel Columbine’s blog, where you and Laurel had been having a discussion, and the wording was the same, which is why we both made the assumption. I apologize for getting snarky over it, since I was mistaken.

    No one is trying to play the “oppression Olympics” here, but in order to better foster communication several of us have mentioned situations in our own lives that have an impact on our ability to devote a lot of time/attention to this issue.–and this whole discussion was centered around the issue of trans and other-identified people feeling oppressed by what cisgendered people were writing online, so I thought it was not out of place. Sexual identity is not a struggle I have personally had to deal with, so I admit, that in itself is a kind of privilege, but what I was trying to illustrate is that as a person with limited capacity and energy (as we all are, to one extent or another) I have had to pick my battles. If social advocacy were a passion of mine, I would likely be advocating for the rights of black people or Jews, the demographics my parents fell into. But that is not my passion, Odin is. Being married to a god, and talking about it publicly, is a hard path; no one said otherwise. It isn’t *meant* to be easy. But at some point everyone needs to decide whether it’s more important to gain the acceptance of people you’ll probably never meet in real life, or to live your path and do your Work. Perhaps–and this would be perfectly legitimate, as well as admirable–your Work, or part of it, is advocating for the rights of trans godspouses. But it isn’t my Work. If someone comes to me with false statements about all godspouses being female or cisgendered, I will certainly correct them. I may even put up an FAQ of my own. But I’m not going to change the way I write, because I am writing only for Odin and for myself.

  7. Reblogged this on The Infinite Battle and commented:
    Very much enjoyed this, and this may spur a post that I may write tonight. (Going to think about it for a while, because it’s a pretty damn personal post that I’ll be writing, but I think it might be important.) Must read, if you’re all up on the Del business going on.

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