Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that the divine feminine—naming God as She as well as He—is important to me, personally and politically. When I first entertained the thought that God might be female as well as male, I felt a bit like a heretic—as though I’d had a definitely rebellious thought, and one that just might land me in eternal trouble. Goddess was supposed to be a pagan word, vaguely connected to witches (who were vaguely up to no good, I thought), to serpents and temptation and sin. I am Christian, and I didn’t want to stop being Christian, as Jesus has always been my spiritual guide, my sustenance. Yet I needed a feminine aspect to God—and not just an aspect. I needed God to be a woman, as fully as God is a man. I needed this in my soul, but hadn’t named it a need, as I thought such a need was heresy.
In her book The End of Men, Hanna Rosin states that we no longer live in a patriarchy, and that the establishment of an American matriarchy is just a matter of time. Although Ms. Rosin does have some insights about the ways in which our culture is changing around gender, her definitions for both these terms are incorrect—which means that she misses the very clear signs that America is a thriving patriarchy.
In many books discussing media, culture, and sex, the same contradiction is highlighted: our media is becoming increasingly “pornified,” even as we judge and punish any woman who has sex for pleasure. These books then point out the tie that binds the contradictions—patriarchy. Patriarchy is all about a woman’s skirt: one hand is up the skirt while the other points a finger at how short it is. The hand up the skirt is about forbidden fruit, the sin of the body and the woman as vessel of sin, sex as dirty, guilty, violent male pleasure—and establishing male ownership of women. The hand pointing at the skirt is about the sin of the body and woman as flawed temptress, man as weak in the face of his own base lust—and establishing male ownership of women. What gets lost, on this side and on that, is the humanity of sex: connection.
We are in the midst of a cultural shift, a time of awakening to the power of women. As a part of this shift, we need to retell our fairy tales—all the stories that have stripped women of power, defined “real men” as dominant abusers, and upheld patriarchy at all costs. We cannot simply replace the old tales with new ones, for the ancient stories are a part of us, buried deep within our psyches. They have been handed down through oral tradition for centuries. In the updating, we need not replace one form of dominance with another: no, the point is reclamation, a shift toward physical and spiritual wholeness. The movie Maleficient, in its retelling of Sleeping Beauty, has broken new, vital ground in this shift. It is an absolutely thrilling movie to watch as a woman, for it returns to us what has long been lost.
The first time I read virulent online misogyny, I was angry, of course. But I also felt a very specific fear, one that included an unconscious undercurrent of shame: what might I have done to create such hatred in the eyes and hearts of men? This, my friends, is the lesson of Eve: our bodies are our selves, and our selves invoke the fear and loathing of men. The Men’s Rights Movement relies on this collective fear. Its proponents claim to be championing men, and indeed they do appeal to the frustrations and angers of men—the ones that patriarchy, via its neverending game of prove-yourself-as-a-man, engenders. Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) claim not to hate women, while blaming them for the problems of a sexist society. They believe women should pay for these problems with our bodies and minds.