I can’t stand it. For some time I’ve been thinking that something needs to be said about the the toxic femininity scripts   creeping into “Goddess” imagery, mass-media contamination, and all in the name of women’s empowerment. These posed, stilted, playmate-like “goddesses”, sticking their breasts out and pouting like lipstick models are all over the net. You’ve seen them – on Youtube, on Facebook, in comix and videogames. Oh, let’s not forget video games and virtual world avatars. They’re proliferating like mad. This is not empowerment; it is monoculture, limiting, plastic, soul-less, and lacking in the relaxed boldness of real power.

See what you think.

"The Return" (of worshipping the blonde? creepy)

And it’s not just the “goddesses.” They do the same to the “shamanesses,” “witches,” and even “Amazons.” Check it out.

I first noticed a strong trend on Pagan YouTube videos toward soft-porn imagery of witches, but it goes well beyond that.
Several months ago, I did a web search for images of “woman shaman,” “medicine woman,” etc., and this is some of what turned up. What’s sad is that people think they are reaching for a more powerful image of women, while conforming to the same old tired, limited ideas. Nearly all are glamour girls of the same body size and (often impossible) proportions. Virtually none represent old or middle-aged women, few are muscular, none are fat or even husky. Their stance and expressions are predictably uniform and modeled on porn archetypes.

If you’ve already looked at the first two pages, I’ve reorganized them and added several more pages as of April 25:

A Gallery of Phony “witches”

A Gallery of Fake “Amazons”

The Toxic Feminine Template: Video Games and Virtual World Avatars

Enough! what women need is the Real Thing.

Max Dashu


14 Responses to A Gallery of Toxific and Pornified “Goddesses”

  1. Thalia says:

    I clicked on over to your first Goddess page and laughed and laughed because right there, right at the top was ^%#*&!! Jonathan Earl Bowser. I’m not big on the idea of blasphemy as a Pagan, but if I were to name anything as blasphemous, it would be his work. Dood, seriously, it’s NOT actually all about your woody.

    The pornification is because women are only here to please the male gaze. Therefore Goddesses, being extra super-dupery womanly, have to be extra super-duperly pleasing to the male eye. It’s the only ‘power’ we’re supposed to have in a patriarchy.

    I’m SO with you on the GRRRAARGGGHH.

  2. rhondda says:

    I so agree Max. What really bothers me though is all the websites by women who have bought into this sexy feminine pagan goddess crap. Not that sex cannot be apart of it all, but really the only thing and why the exaggerated body? It really is not much different than regular entertainment fair. It makes me sad to think that women think this is all that they are worth. They have no inner life or connection to nature other than to be a sex object. I think too that this image is what mainstream media want to portray. Pagan women are bimbos and always available. Men like that ya, ya, ya.

  3. Thalia says:

    Ew ew ew those mermaids! It’s the sorta-kinda sex in front and the shapely butts in back that make it so gross. Even mermaids, those siren singers of temptation naked from the waist up, were not pornified enough for the dude. Ew!!!

    I’m gonna go stare at my Gorgon Stheno art for a while until I get the rageys out of me, argh.

    Oh and thank you for linking to my Momoy. :)

  4. Domina says:

    That was frustrating to look through. My resentments towards the media and gaming industry has just radicalied surged upward. It is a shame that female Goddess archetypes, meant to embody strength, wisdom and power have been degenerated into nothing but sex objects that fit the patriarchal ideal of what a women should be. Worse yet, Pagan women have bought into this idea and are reinforcing “feminine,” sexualized stereotypical views that furthers the patriarchal agenda.

  5. admin says:

    Yes, it is distressing how many Pagan women accept this narrow spectrum of images the way that it is and was. Sexuality is great, but not this phony, plastic stuff, the patriarchal agenda as you say. There’s so much more to female power. Yesterday, doing an image search in Russian for “priestess,” you wouldn’t believe the amount of porn that came up. Meanwhile the spammers are coming after this blog because their webcrawlers find words that make them think this is somehow their market. Way, way off the mark, guys.

  6. Tinamarie says:

    Very inspiring. I’m pleased that someone forwarded this article to me, and I hope you don’t mind that I quote it for something I’m working on elsewhere. I too have felt this icky feeling, and working to integrate a more sacred view of femininity, sexuality and sensuality in my daily life and writings. It’s a fine line to walk, as I’m sure you know! In any case, really learning a lot from your articles, here and elsewhere. Best, T

  7. Thenuinn says:

    I disagree with you in part here. Gods and Goddesses have been bare or nude in artistic work for quite a while. They represented what the artist thought ideal and still does.

    After looking at some of your imagery chosen some of them are cleary not meant to be goddesses – like morrigan from the dark stalkers video games. Others like the Japanese influenced art from anime and manna is pretty standard stuff and not all of the mature stuff is about rape. There are several literary tropes about breasts that comics/manga use such as Large breasts = combat prowess.

    A lot of these works are influenced by the Sword and Sorcery days of chain mail bikinis dating back from the 1920′s up through the comic book age of the 1950′s.

    The artistic styling really hasnt changed its just drawn better (imo), more vivid, and more available.

    Just because they don’t represent the goddess/witch/shaman/Amazon to you doesn’t make if bad art, just art you dont like.

  8. admin says:

    You are much mistaken if you think my objection is to nudity in art. I use it myself, and have extensively documented it in archaeology and cultural history. But the range here is far broader.

    I don’t disagree that it is what the artists think ideal, my point is that this is a mass pattern that reduces the female to a narrow, male-defined stereotype. Limiting and often insulting.

    I am challenging the tide of coy, simpering, playboy bunnyesque memes because of their omnipresence, their narrowness, their conformity, and their discontinuity with the vast cultural heritages we can draw on. I wouldn’t give a flying if it was here and there, but this is the dominant cultural norm, and i will speak out against it.

  9. Thenuinn says:

    I didn’t mean to come across as saying you were against nudity – just in several of your comments you say the women are scantily clad or lacking armor.

    However, I don’t think that this is a solely single gendered limitation (I DO think it is a dominated by males though). For instance – Clamp, a group of all female manga artists who primarily draw Manga for young girls and women (Shoujo) draw a large number of buxom barbie women but draw women of all ages and body types. For Instance Yuuko – a witch – http://tinyurl.com/yuukoexample. – is drawn as sultry and dark and is often featured posing.

    On the other hand you have films like Suckerpunch who director said this about fanservice – Zack Snyder: Do you not get the metaphor there? The girls are in a brothel performing for men in the dark. In the fantasy sequences, the men in the dark are us. The men in the dark are basically me; dorky sci-fi kids.

    I do think a large portion of the art out their is about fan service ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Fanservice) but I do not think all of its intentional. Bayonetta on the other hand is a different story.

  10. admin says:

    It’s not about how much they have on. I would turn your term fanservice around, it is driven by manservice. For nerds included. Sure, there are females who follow the models set by men, because they were and are. Those artists may not have thought about it much; those are the norms they follow, full stop. As for all body types, i will be convinced when you can show me a significant proportion sized and proportioned the way most women are. Husky, fat, old, unpretty, the range, not sylphs who are big-breasted or not, anorexic or just slim, muscular as long as they have tiny waists and bazooms. The posing is part of what i find so limited and limiting. I don’t believe it is intentional in many cases, but that’s not the point. On the other hand, some of it is intentional with an edge that is unsavory. A few images, so what, but we are being inundated by this stuff.

  11. blackwings says:

    From the bottom of the Avatars gallery: the word is romanized as Hentai, though it is pronounced hen-tie. Unless you were making a pun and I didn’t see what you did there?

  12. admin says:

    No, it came from googling around, and whatever source i used wrote that way. I thought it was a translation, not a romanization. Thanks for catching it. Do you know what it means?

  13. CatDeville says:

    Just in defense of female SL users… I *tried* to make my avatar a bit more realistic and could not… the parameters on the normal female avatar wouldn’t allow it. I was able to get a bit better than the standard anorexic barbie doll, but not much.

    And to be fair, there are very few realistic male avatars either – there’s just as much beefcake as cheesecake out there. Because it’s a virtual environment, so people are playing out fantasies. What is sad is that there’s so little variety in their fantasies.

    (And I had just as much difficulty trying to get something close to a realistic shape out of the SIMS as well.

  14. admin says:

    Please don’t think i am attacking the female Second Life users. Your example of the inflexibility of the prototypes is exactly what i’m talking about. It forces women to adopt personas that don’t express who they are, only a limited male fantasy. If there was real diversity i wouldn’t care. But this is a potent distortionary force, and lots of people don’t even notice it.