I had no plans to attend Z Budapest’s ritual on Sunday night. I thought about going to Rabbit’s ceremony, but what I really wanted, after a week of hard work, was to kick back in the hotel room and watch Downton Abbey. (A somewhat guilty pleasure, my class loyalties and politics being what they are.) Alas, the Fates ordained otherwise.

When I heard about the protest (as it was first told to me) / silent meditation that Thorn had called for outside of Z’s ritual, I realized that I would have to be present to hold space. I was acutely conscious of the larger context of the sit-in: the ongoing campaign to ban all Dianic lineages whose rites were for women born and raised, and the vitriolic outpouring that happened to Yeshe Rabbit last year. I was concerned that things could go that way, again, and affect a lot of women—for starters, anyone who wanted to attend Z’s ritual, and ultimately a much larger community of Dianics.

The issue paramount in my mind, and forgotten amidst all the righteous rhetoric, was the sovereignty of women, our right to set our own boundaries and to decide who are our peers and allies. (Yes, of course   trans women too.) Women, that most divided of all groups, make different choices based on who we trust as allies. How can forcing boundaries of self-determination earn that trust? especially when breaking down women’s boundaries is and remains a historically enforced imperative. I was aware that honorably taking responsibility would make me a target; that many people would make unwarranted assumptions, in the gossip and aspersions that run wild out on the wire. But I would have to leave them to it.

The rights to self-determination and to resist coercion do not necessarily entail challenging someone else’s gender identification or the existence of multiple genders. (I am not going to address this very big subject, on which opinions differ even among queer theorists, here.) My own posts have moved about who is and can be an ally. My core criterion is caring deeply about women’s liberation. I will not stand for silencing or coercion of women, and I’ve seen a lot of that in these recent backlash decades. I am looking to broaden my alliances, but will not back down on these principles.

Passing by the restaurant at the Con, I saw Z and Glenn talking, and immediately knew why. So I horned in on the conversation. I told Z I would come to hold sacred space at the door to the ritual. I know that Thorn intended to create sacred space herself and was doing what she thought was right, by her lights. I respect her even when I don’t agree with her. We have common mystic ground. We haven’t had a chance to dialog about these issues, though I came to hear what she had to say at the Gender and Paganism conference last fall.

I had a sinking feeling just thinking about the radioactive zone of pre-judgment, assumptions, polarization, and frenzied name-calling that surrounds this issue. However, that couldn’t be helped. There were things that had to be faced, and said, and lived out. I heard that the controversy would be discussed at the Pagans and the Media panel, and attended it. Some very good things were said, others that I disagreed with or that were, frankly, irrelevant. There was a certain amount of circling around the issue, with one exception: Z was called out by name, in a way I have never seen done to anyone in all the years I have been coming to Pantheacon, in her absence. I could not remember or imagine a male elder coming close to being verbally targeted in this way, for anything. It’s not that an elder can never be wrong, but this breached the pan-tradition protocol of respecting face for elders. It would be far, far surpassed by what transpired later online.

Several years ago, when I heard an archdruid at the Con ridicule “matriarchalist fantasies” as having no historical basis whatsoever, even as he asserted the total non-sexism of his own tradition, no one said a peep. Some people laughed knowingly at the gibe. Sexist generalizations, no prob! I knew, too, how unlikely it was that anyone would challenge the fellow sitting two rows in front of me during the Media panel. He sported a leather jacket emblazoned with a woman tightly gagged and bound, and running along the border of chains, the inscription, “Bound to Please.” Though I find this symbolism of male dominance deeply offensive, I didn’t say anything to him. Nor was I going to bother people who went to bondage-themed parties or rituals glorifying “sacred prostitution,” or which banned women on their bloods, or honored gods linked to male dominance mythologies.

Pantheacon is a libertarian space, and so has places and scenes where I am a complete outsider (something I have a lot of practice at). At times I feel completely alienated, like the year our booth was next to the corset shop, which was mobbed by women forking over hundreds each for this constrictive garment. (The vendor moaned with relief when she took hers off at day’s end). Many people have this experience of alienation, for a whole variety of reasons, and not just at this conference. However, I feel that the people who run the Con (and thank you to the many volunteers) do a marvelous job holding the space for everyone, the whole disparate lot of us. Herding cats! The theme Unity in Diversity was an attempt to address the dissension and polarization.

During the question period of the panel, I spoke about what it means to deride female sovereignty in the context of the intense anti-feminist backlash we are living through now. Margot Adler had mentioned the shrinkage of feminist spaces, bookstores and Women’s Studies. I talked about how that had affected my work, as women’s history got thrown overboard in the stampede to Gender Studies. It’s not because women’s oppression has been solved! I said that this debate has got to get unstuck off the “essentialism” refrain. As long as the issue keeps getting cast only as biological determinism (and I see people in both camps insisting on this discourse in different ways) other real concerns are not being addressed, even effectively denied or misrepresented. We need to have a deeper conversation about the complexities, the differences and the commonalities, between cis, trans, and those who don’t fit this new gender binary. In the current climate such a dialogue, multilogue actually, seems impossible. May the time come soon when we can do so without it turning into a destructive beatdown.

It is hurtful to call people “transies,” but what about “bigot”? This word has been hurled in a steady stream since the 80s, and is in full cry in the current dispute. It is itself used in bigoted ways, especially against lesbian feminists, radical feminists and butch lesbians, who are routinely denounced. Doctrinal certainty cuts more than one way. Last year, Rabbit came to my booth in distress. She didn’t say what had actually gone down, and neither did Amethyst, who came by equally upset for opposite reasons. Only later did I hear about the confrontation at Rabbit’s ritual. I read through the ugliness on the blogs, and was horrified to see what they said about her, the curtain of contempt that descended. Someone even felt entitled to make death threats. This year, people on both sides say they feel that they are unwelcome at the Con, unsafe attending a ritual, or unsafe because they are not allowed to attend that same ritual. Ironically, people who sat in outside the Dianic ritual chose to do so rather than to attend a trans-inclusive Dianic event in the very same timeslot, a much better-attended event.

Coercion and derision is not the way to change someone’s mind, and projecting mistaken assumptions from what one person says or does to entire groups is guaranteed to harden lines. I was well aware that sticking my neck out on this issue would, for many, conflate me completely with what others said or did, regardless of what where I actually stood. It would not matter a whit to them that my events are open to everybody. A lot of things would not matter in the heat of this destructive, vicious argument.

Last weekend, it looked increasingly likely to me that historic lineages of Dianics could get drummed out of Pantheacon, and all in the name of love and justice. (I felt reassured on this score after hearing from the founding elder, Glenn Turner.) Many of the Amazon priestesses were not at the Con this year, such as Ruth Barrett, Ma ShiAat Oloya, Leilani Birely, Falcon River, Anniitra Ravenmoon, Letecia Layson, Wendy Griffin. I can’t speak for them or where they might stand. My concern was to uphold their right to space at the Pantheacon.

So Nava and I decided to weard the door at Z’s ritual: to be there in sacred space, while chanting the Names of Goddess. Perhaps our devotion would touch that of Thorn and others who were meditating. We knew that Glenn would be there too, and were thankful for her holding the space. I knew that Thorn didn’t intend harm with her silent meditation, even if she had made her intention to pressure clear. Still the polarization was daunting. The coercive aspects of the ongoing Urania / Pluto square were on my mind.

We came early to settle in next to the door, me on the floor. I wrapped my Raven mantle around my hips in case it got chilly. Then I began to chant the Sri Lalita Sahasranama. This is one of the Thousand Names of Devi litanies from India, invoking the divine qualities that are within all of us. Nava was meditating and praying too, and Glenn sat beside her, and a while later, Bobbie sat down. Thalassa was there, though I didn’t see her at the time. Elders of various vintages were in the house.

My eyes were closed most of the time, so I missed seeing much of what was going on. I could tell that people were lining up to enter the ritual to my right—door still closed—and facing them were the silent protesters. (Although Thorn didn’t use this word, many did and still do.) I found out afterward that many of these women felt like they were walking a gauntlet as they came down the hall. This feeling only  intensified when some of the protesters took pictures of them. (There is no other word for that but intimidation.) I caught a whiff of disagreement between staff and Bobbie, when they told her not to film what was going on. Some attendees later said no one had stopped protesters from taking pictures of them.

I kept chanting the invocations: Compassionate Devi. Blessed Wisdom. Supreme Power. Origin.  Thousand Petaled Lotus Pouring Forth a Stream of Divine Essence, Foreknower in Perfection, Remover of Obstacles, Dispeller of Fear, Dweller in the Heart. Mother of Ten Million Universes, Shining Embodiment. Wish-fulfilling Vine, Remover of Bondage from the Bound. Immeasurable. Bliss of Truth. Mother. Liberator. Peacefulness.

At one point I felt more people arriving. Rabbit had brought people from her ritual to hold space between the two groups. They sang We All Come From the Goddess, and we sang it along with them. They alternated it with another beautiful chant of Thorn’s. Women inside were also singing We All Come From the Goddess. Z came out and spoke. She apologized for hurting anyone, and she upheld her right to perform her rites. I couldn’t see any response, except when Rabbit admonished Z for forthrightly addressing “your side.” She told her, “There are no sides,” which sounded cosmic and everything, but unconvincing under the circumstances. We weren’t in Rumi’s field yet, where there is no judgment, no rebuke. People came to “take a stand” and there was no mistaking the opposition.

I can’t remember what Z said, but here is her written statement: “I know you are here for me. I come out to say something to all of you. I am sorry if I have hurt anyone’s feelings.  I apologize. I stand for your right of sacred space for the trans community. I stand with my life’s work for the women to have the right to their sacred space equally. I have supported PantheaCon goals for unity and diversity for the 18 years this conference has existed and an opportunity to have everyone to express themselves in a safe place. Peace.” This apology, as difficult as it was for a proud Hungarian priestess to make, has barely been acknowledged in the blogosphere rants, or it has been rejected, for the most part, because she did not back down on the parameters of her rituals.

The silent meditators continued on. Z went back in and the ritual began. I resumed chanting the Sahasranama of Devi. After some time, the silent people wrapped up their meditation and dispersed. I continued chanting for a while longer. Then Glenn, Nava, Bobbie and I talked, a good, long conversation. I felt relieved, for the moment, but less so when the ritual participants came out and talked about having to pass through hostile terrain. I later found out that some even thought that we by the door were there to protest too, adding to their feeling of isolation and outcast. On the other side of the hall, I heard later, certain protesters had said angry words to Rabbit and Devin, assuming that they were on the “wrong” side.

It was truly the cusp of a stellium in Pisces, with a new moon (and therefore sun, plus Mercury and Chiron) joining Neptune, fresh after its entry into its own oceanic sign. Confusion, illusion, and smoking mirrors; also the fragrance of devotion and love, the potential for inspirational vision, and perhaps, in time, the dissolution of acrimony into ho’oponopono. We are all being ground on the anvil of Urania squaring Kali, with many more passes to go. The larger perspective on this tempest will make itself felt in time.

We came home exhausted, after loading and packing up the booth, then unloading after the drive. We had sold little more than half of what we did last year, and were wrung out. Then I saw the firestorm of denunciations on the blogosphere, once again. The comments section on The Wild Hunt was inhabited by torrents of rage and outrage. Bigot, bigot, and bigot to the tenth power. Accusations of man-hating were repeated, in various iterations. Curses uttered, even. My womb was hurting, no lie.

One blogger purported to give a dispassionate account of what went down at the protest. Sitting by the door, he wrote, were “three cis-gender crones,” one of whom was rocking and “muttering.” Ah, the muttering of crones, that phrase really takes me back. I recognize the meme of an old woman singing Goddess invocations, interpreted as muttering some incomprehensible spell, questionable and perhaps diabolic. So now I was seen as a muttering cis-gender crone. But I had plenty of new identities to choose from, if I cared to, in the online vilification stream.

Bigots, manhaters, transphobes, and bigots again, were being cast into outer darkness. The rightful recipients of love and understanding and solidarity and sympathy were clearly marked out. The Others who must be expelled were radical feminists, and if Pantheacon continued to harbor them, it must be boycotted. One man outright called Z “evil.” Women piled on too. Stones were flying in the cyber village square, in the name of tolerance and acceptance. Every time I look again I am heartsick.

A few brave souls waded in to defend against the pan-defamation. (Thank you.) On another blog, a woman begged for forgiveness for really, really needing to attend that ritual, because of the sexual violence and abuse she had suffered: “Instead of taking part in a ritual which I needed I’m sitting in a hotel room writing this letter. I didn’t attend the Sacred Body ritual hosted by Z Budapest because I couldn’t face the protest. A protest sparked by pain. I know pain. I was sexually abused in my marriage for 17 years.  Then I was abused for 5 more years by different men. I hated my womanhood and my body.  Rituals like the one offered by Zsuzsanna have helped me begin to heal and I need them. I’m not a bigot.  I don’t hate you. Please, sisters, hear my words.” Some people relented a bit, but others were sternly implacable. One man tried to invalidate her concerns by a comparison to racism. (Dood! it’s not for you to pass judgment on any woman, least of all one who has suffered beyond your understanding.) http://pncminnesota.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/letter-to-the-editor-ciswomen-only-ritual-at-pantheacon/

Some people have chosen to forget, if they ever recognized it, the long history of bludgeoning women into submission, of public humiliation and denunciation, ritually repeated. This is not the dialog that needs to happen; it is no dialog at all. Thankfully, I am seeing a breeze of reasonableness come through on some blogs, like that of Gus diZerega, who I just met at the Con. He spoke about the importance of harmony among participants for a ritual to work, and said of Z’s ritual:

“She and those who attended did not make a statement about how the larger community should conduct their rituals let alone setting their ritual up as a proper guide for all, or for all women. Quite explicitly otherwise. In the context of Pantheacon this was a ritual for people wanting to attend a ritual with particular parameters. Those desires were legitimate and indeed are present in almost every Pagan society. (I say “almost” because perhaps somewhere there is an exception, but I doubt it.)” Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/apagansblog/2012/02/pantheacon-2012-politics-and-the-controversy-over-womens-rituals.html#ixzz1nTnSL37I

Something strange: the comments link on Rabbit’s blog post about this controversy comes up blank, and so does Devin Hunter’s entire blog post. I have heard that other posts describe the experience of women who attended the ritual, but am just now finding links to them. Some I can’t post because they are restricted to the person’s Facebook friends. This one comes from the HecateDemeter blog (Undermining the Patriarchy Every Chance I Get. And I Get a Lot of Chances.) It’s called, I Contain Multitudes:

“What I want is a Paganism full of diversity. I want to honor and respect those who draw a circle that includes me and those who draw a circle that says, ‘We need to be inside here for a time. That means that we need you to stand outside. Can you please stand here and guard our door?’ We need rituals that are drawn as tightly as needed to guard the sanctity of those who have been othered and excluded. Of those who need to other and exclude themselves in order to preserve their own sacred and diverse identities. Of those who simply want to draw a circle and stand inside it without being attacked.” http://hecatedemeter.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/i-contain-multitudes/

 

64 Responses to Three “cis-gender crones,” one “muttering”

  1. Christy says:

    Your argument is valid ONLY if you don’t accept trans women as women. I do. So what you say only hurts more. I know it probably isn’t your intention to hurt, but as a biologically-female woman, born with a vagina, having bled my dues, grown 5 children in my womb, and had 4 powerful childbirth experiences, your words hurt me, and don’t seem to acknowledge a protection of the rights of all women. It makes me cry to see the feminist movement treat some women so badly.

  2. Papillon says:

    I do not call Z. a bigot to hurt her feelings. I do it because she says and clearly thinks bigoted things, and seemingly cannot stand the idea of being close to someone who is trans*. You can be a lesbian feminist and still care about all genders. And you can run ‘genetic’ women only rituals and not be a bigot. But Z. Budapest is absolutely bigoted against those who are trans*.

    She is harmful to this idea of inclusion, or to the idea that we accept the ‘other’ that other religions try their hardest to be rid of. When you see people coming to Z’s defense and at the same time saying those who are trans* simply have a mental disorder, that’s not okay. It’s a bigoted line of thinking that breaks this community apart, and you don’t get to say that our attempt to right these wrongs, or at least label these wrongs what they undoubtedly are, is also bigoted. That’s not how this works. People only ever say that to silence dissent.

  3. Sierra Carleysdaughter says:

    As you can see by the comment above. Many people simply cannot hear or accept anything that does not fit their perspective. Although you have made such an eloquent statement about what has occured and is occuring I dispair that many hearts and minds will not allow themselves to hear it. I fear that as women are again targeted and vilified, more than psychological and spiritual harm will be done to us. Threats continue to be made as those who insist that trans-folk be given unlimited access to anywhere they want to be are calling for “inclusion” at any cost – including the use of violence. To me, this approach only confirms that Patriarchy is alive and well and is being embraced by the very people who claim that they are victims of “genetic women.” Being a survivor of violence (sexual and physical) perpetrated by my male family members and by males in the communicy and as someone who has worked to help heal victims of this kind of violence I have seen these accusations and threats before. That those who embrace privelege are the “real victims” while women are the enemy. Finally, I must say that I do not accept the identity of cis – it is a term being used by the trans-community to identify women born as female and to me is just the newest form of the N word. At the very least, that is how it is being used wherever this discussion is occuring. Everytime I read it it makes my hair stand up on the back of my neck. It feels highly threatening-dehumanizing. I want to hold out hope that reason and communication will prevail – at the very least we can agree to disagree, but reading all of the hate being spewed, I dispair that it will not be. Thank you so much for your calm, reasoned and articulate comments. Sierra

  4. Lezlie says:

    I “shared” this entry on FB. I said: “This blog by Max Dashu brought me to tears. I love my Pagan community and seeing it torn apart with the worst possible side of this community spouting vitriol is one of the worst experiences of my life as a Priestess. Does anyone beside me remember that “in the day” it was women of mixed traditions, trans- and – a very few men who held and protected ritual space *for* the Dianic – particularly lesbian – women? If the current generation of Pagans does not *get* this, or who will not remember our own past, then there is little hope for us as a movement.”

  5. Bev Jo says:

    It is so cruel and unfair to twist reality around. Men cannot become women. “Trans women” is a lie. When women support these men to destroy our last female-only space, like they do at Michigan and here, it hurts women and helps men who will not take “no” for an answer.

    When these men not only claim to be Lesbians, but paraplegic because they have always wanted to be paraplegic and feel like they are, do you support them also? Do you support them when they try to appropriate the identity of racially oppressed people also? Why is it so hard to see them as the incredibly self-entitled, privileged male invaders that they are? Most women see it clearly until they are taught the trans cult lies.

    They use our feminist politics against us. Supporting men over women saying no is the opposite of feminism. Do you support them in calling us “transphobic” when we say no to being fucked by them?

    For those who want support and more information, Gallus Mag’s blog, GenderTrender shows these men by their own words and videos, including the completely able-bodied man claiming to be a “trans-paraplegic Lesbian.”

    http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/

    My blog has a two-part article — “Defining Lesbians Out of Existence.”

    http://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/

  6. admin says:

    No, you are mistaken. I support the right of women of color to gather without white women, of class-oppressed women to convene separately, lesbians without heterosexuals — for that matter trans without cis or res-gendered* women, including butch lesbians, or genderqueers. There are all kinds of settings where such association is chosen legitimately, including trans support groups, and one of these is based on the lived experience of being treated as girl-then-woman, sex-class-female, in a patriarchal culture of male-preference and female-shaming. Personal history counts, maybe not for you, but for some women it matters. (Why? I will save this for a future post, because this is a huge subject.) I am not discounting anyone’s hurt or anyone’s gender identity. I am just beginning to write about this painful and complex subject, so please don’t make assumptions.

    *By res-gendered I mean those of female sex who resist the enforcement of patriarchal femininity codes, including but not limited to butch lesbians. I will have much more to say on this in future.

  7. Bev Jo says:

    I just saw some of the other posts supporting Z’s courageous decision. Thank you so much. Many of us know from experience that as soon as we dare to speak in defense of an oppressed group (women) wanting our own space, we get death threats, rape threats, and mutilation threats from trans activists.

  8. admin says:

    I do not identify as cis either. It is another binary and it excludes the lives of butch lesbians. When a man attacks someone who “looks wrong” on the street, he does not know or care what her/his gender identification is. I know butch lesbians who have been the targets of repeated acts of this kind. Where is “cis privilege” then? Or when conventional women give hostile looks in bathrooms? However, i would like a moratorium on all racial analogies re this issue, it becomes inflammatory. Let’s deal with this on the grounds of what happens to women, lived experience, vilification, the whole caboodle in its own right.

  9. admin says:

    I don’t want this to be a conversation about Z, or any one personality. There is much, much more at stake here. And i have seen plenty of silencing of dissent using this word “bigot,” which is why i am calling on it. I know the radioactivity of the climate all too well, having lived through it.

    I can see in advance i will not be able to keep up with all the comments here, and am approving them for now. It does not mean that i endorse all the opinions.

  10. [...] “Z. Budapest was right” on “Doing Magick”. http://www.sourcememory.net/veleda/?p=486 “The muttering of a cis-gender [...]

  11. admin says:

    Sigh. And when a trans woman is stabbed to death, is it for being a man? Before you pile in with more of the same old rhetoric that just pours more oil on the fire and undercuts what i am trying to do here, please allow me some space to make my case. I did not want to blog on this radioactive subject, there has been no space for speaking my truth in the GLBT scene. You are not helping. Some people only want to talk about the “gender binary,” without recognizing that it originates in the enforcements of patriarchy. Others refuse to acknowledge that multiple genders exist, i don’t mean primarily the variation in biological spectrum of sex attributes, but in Indigenous cultures. That too is a complicated subject, for reasons i’ll go into in a future post. Nothing is as simple as it’s made out to be.

  12. Lisa Townsend-Crow says:

    Thank you for this post. You have said everything I have thought since this whole issue arose. I will not deny anyone the identiity they choose for themselves — Goddess knows, I have re-made myself many times over my life. I do not believe that anyone should have to face discrimination in housing or employment and I completely support the transgender child who joined the Girl Scouts — but I do not feel comfortable being in sacred or ritual space with anyone who was not born in a female body and raised a woman. That is why I am a Dianic and not a Gardnerian or Alexandrian or Faerie or Druid or (insert tradition here).

    Perhaps when some of these children who identify as the opposite gender have grown up with the love and support of parents and communities, things will be different; transgender children born one gender but raised in alignment with their inner identity may have a better chance of achieving equality in all facets of society. I hope so. In the meantime, I support separate sacred space for anyone who wants and needs it. If that makes me a “bigot,” so be it.

  13. admin says:

    I don’t understand how pingbacks work. Does someone know if they need to be approved, or how does this work?

  14. Dana Corby says:

    Since I was born female, I suppose I must be a ‘cis’ woman, whatever that means (and I wish someone would tell me what it means; I never heard the expression until the post-Pantheacon hurricane.) I’m BTW, which means, most of the time, hetero or at least comfortable with hetero imagery. So I expect many will think I have no right to comment on the rightness or wrongness of Z’s born-women’s ritual. Well, I’m commenting anyway.

    I fully support Z’s right to host a ritual that includes only a specific type of participant, in this case, women who have or could have menstruated. Those who never have can never know what it’s like, any more than I could know what it’s like to have an erection and ejaculate. The ritual was exclusive because the experience is exclusive.

    I fully support the right of gender-reassigned women to the name of woman. I support the presentation of ritual and other events where they are accepted as women and take women’s roles.

    What I can’t support is the use of bullying, shaming, and denial of rights to prevent anyone from holding an unpopular ritual. You don’t like it, go to one you like. You disapprove, get on the blogosphere and express your disapproval. But you’re not allowed to destroy other people’s sacred experiences in a fit of pique at not being invited.

    As a BTW, I’m used to being accused of elitism, exclusivity, and all sorts of other evils because our rituals are closed to non-initiates, by people who do not understand our motives. I see what’s happening first to CAYA Coven and now to Z as more of the same. It’s a pernicious example of what’s going on all over the country: “I wanna so you have to let me!” And you know who it reminds me of most? Rick Santorum.

    This is not how Paganism is supposed to work, my dears. There IS a place for everyone among us, but it’s not all the same place.

  15. admin says:

    It *probably* isn’t my intention to hurt? Gee, thanks. Is it yours? Then give me some credit. There are plenty of tears to go around.

  16. admin says:

    Thanks for understanding. What does BTW mean? i know it’s not “by the way” lol.

  17. Swannie says:

    Thank you. All I can say to the clarity and truth you have expressed here so brilliantly , is that , I would gladly guard the door and mutter with you , anytime anyplace .
    Love and HUGS

    Swannie

  18. Chas says:

    If you approve the pingback, it creates a link to your original post.

  19. admin says:

    Thanks!

  20. C. says:

    This just still feels rotten. You cannot celebrate the diversity of the divine feminine in all its beautiful variety without honoring all women. You cannot say that your goals support women’s spaces and not include all women in that definition. There is a time and place for specific groups to meet, but I don’t believe that a major con is the appropriate venue for that, nor do I believe that calling it a celebration of feminine diversity and then specifically excluding one whole class of women can be seen as anything other than an intentional disregard of trans women’s femininity. It is using the definitions and tools of the patriarchy to try to take down the patriarchy; it doesn’t work. (http://lists.econ.utah.edu/pipermail/margins-to-centre/2006-March/000794.html)

    I understand some of the reasons offered for why some biologically-female women would not feel comfortable with a trans presence at women’s rituals. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, adult rape, and a whole host of other traumas at the hands of a sex industry that harms women and girls. I currently work providing counseling and crisis intervention at a rape crisis center, where I also lead support groups. Women’s healing, and better understanding of gender and sexuality issues (particularly with regards to oppression theories and LGBTQ issues)– these are the issues to which I have gladly devoted my life and ministry.

    Women’s issues and oppression, however, do not exist in a vacuum. They are the product of a culture in which all forms of oppression prop up and feed off of each other, and to the extent that we fail to stand up for our trans sisters (many of whom HAVE knowing from their earliest memories that their female energies did not match their bodies, and most of whom HAVE endured considerable abuse and gender-based oppression from the patriarchy), we are participants in helping to continue models of oppression. The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. That’s the old way of thinking, and while I appreciate what my second-wave feminist foremothers have done for the movement, the movement has indeed grown beyond that. It’s time for a new paradigm.

    At our rape crisis center, all women’s groups are open to self-identified women. Period. If that makes someone uncomfortable, that is a shame, and they are still welcome to take part in all of our other services with which they DO feel comfortable. But as much as we want to give every woman who needs it a chance to experience group healing, we will not do so at the expense of becoming part of a patriarchal structure in which others (men or women) define for us (women) who we are.

    I am so thankful for this opportunity to come to light. I hope that the discussion that comes out of it all will lead to greater understanding of the TRUE diversity of the divine feminine, and help Paganism turn its critical eye on itself. Just as the voices of feminists of color, those with disabilities, and those who were LGBTQ have helped shaped modern feminism to have a view of oppression that is far more complex and realistic, so, too, can this current discussion help women’s mysteries more fully reflect what it is to be a woman.

  21. C. says:

    Thank you for this reply to the comment. This is a huge part of what I feel is missing in the recent discussions.

  22. admin says:

    C, I think it is time for a new paradigm. We are talking about how that is to be defined, and i am supplying a perspective that has yet to be heard. Don’t ask me to justify words that i did not speak. I don’t think you heard what i said in the post above, so i’ll repeat. “I am not discounting anyone’s hurt or anyone’s gender identity.” You don’t think “a major con is the appropriate venue” for specific groups to meet, but in fact they do and have. I agree that in this culture “all forms of oppression prop up and feed off of each other.” Where we differ is that i think that standing up for trans sisters does not have to result in the viciously misogynist outpourings that i have witnessed. It’s not either / or. I knew that challenging the current situation would cause many people to make mistaken assumptions about where i am coming from. Can’t help that. Your rape crisis group accepts trans women; good thing, because they are targets of rape and need support like every other raped woman.

    Sorry to see that you have such a stereotypically flattened view of older feminists as dinosaurs, but that “master’s tools” quote comes from back when. I’ve been involved in dialogues about this issue for a long time, in anti-racist and anti-imperial activism, am part of the disabled and lesbian communities, so complex and realistic is what i know and what i do. Look deeper, we all need to.

  23. Ruth Rocchio says:

    Great post! I agree it is hard to trust women, as much as I want to, as much as I long to. As our relationships have been so harmed. Betrayal is too fresh. Thanks for the clear words.

  24. Macha says:

    BTW = British Traditional Wicca/Witchcraft.

    Lots of good discussion here. Special appreciation for Dana Corby’s.

    Yours in changing culture,
    Macha, who attended the Great Bear Mother ritual

  25. Max, I’ve been wrestling with how to respond, especially since I wasn’t there. And I wasn’t at Pantheacon because of what happened last year and the viciousness that followed. I am tempted to just post a link to this and be done. But I won’t–I’ll wade in and have my say, though it won’t be nearly so eloquent as yours, you wonderful muttering crone. Much love and support to you and us and all, my friend. And my thanks.

  26. An excellent post, Max, and one that reflects my own opinions. Thank you for this thoughtful recap of the situation. The title is hysterically funny, and I would be laughing my ass off about it if the whole situation wasn’t so toxic.

    I thought I’d jump in and define the whole cis/trans thing for Dana and anyone else who wonders where those words came from — they are a bit obscure. I assume the terms were adopted from organic chemistry, where cis/trans isomerism describes the geometric positioning of a functional group on molecules that are otherwise identical. Cis means, roughly, “on this side” and trans “on the other side”. Interestingly, one little flipped group on a molecule can change the properties of a substance considerably. Hmmmm…..

  27. Heart says:

    Thanks for this Max, and deep respect. <3

  28. Max,

    I for one, loved hearing your chanting and wondered who it was.

    I did my best in that situation, and tried to hold space. My hope is that healing will begin to emerge from the dust. If you have ideas about ho’ooponopono for our community, I would be very open to being involved in such a process.

    Thank you for your work, and for relating the situation as you see it.

    blessings – Thorn

  29. [...] Read the whole thing:  Share this:EmailMorePrintDiggShare on TumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  30. admin says:

    I think it actually came from French, most famously in trans-alpine (on the other side of the Alps) and cisalpine (on this side of the Alps).

  31. admin says:

    Thorn,
    I’m meditating on it. Let the dust settle and sit with it awhile, for some more clarity to emerge. The polarized climate of the past two decades is doing no one any good. Dialogue needs more room to move, if it can be created. So much going on in these intense times.
    peace and blessings, Max

  32. jonathan says:

    Thank you so much Max. As always, you have really brought this conversation to a much deeper level.

    I am a BTW as well, and I don’t see our community singled out in the same way that Dianic feminists have been. So I can’t help feeling that there is deep sexism at the core of these accusations.

    There are a great many gay and genderqueer folks in the BTW community, and we have made peace with all the heterosexual, gender-normative imagery that is a part of our tradition. That’s because there is a core sacred value to the work that we do that can’t be denied.

    And the work of Z, Rabbit and others in the Dianic community, puts so many women (cis-, trans- or otherwise) in touch with the sanctity of the earth in a way which is both intesely personal and universal. This is a love that does not depend on who is or is not included in any one particular ritual. This is a love that can never be denied.

  33. greenwitch65 says:

    @ Dana… You have said exactly what my thoughts were on Z’s ritual. A trans-gendered person cannot even begin to fathom what it means to experience those things that make the biological person who they are. To repeat your words. “The experience is exclusive.”

    To me, if someone wants to have a particular ritual, it is their prerogative. If someone wants to have a ritual that allows only people who howl at the moon, stark-naked in the middle of January and dance around a fire, it is no one’s business but their own. If anything, Programming dropped the ball because they should have been mindful about what happened last year and the fallout that was probably to ensue this year. Hell, the squabble last year led to a book being written exclusively on this issue. That should have been a red flag if anything!

    I support the need for sacred space and the need for particular groups to feel safe and secure. To me, that is what “sacred space” is all about. To have male energy (whether they know it or not, trans-women still carry male energy) in a ritual that is exclusively for women who have menstruated, is unsettling, to say the least.

    *On a personal note, had I attended a ritual that was skyclad that was to be for women only, and I see a trans (especially one that hasn’t had surgery), I would feel quite ill at ease and probably would leave. Nothing against the trans, just my own feelings of my own body with a man other than my husband present.

    @Max… Thank you for having this space that does not feel like I’m being slammed for holding an opinion that others feel is wrong.

  34. Tracie Jones says:

    Max, thank you so much! I don’t have words to express what I’m feeling after reading your post except to say, thank you for your clarity, your wisdom and for speaking truth. I may have more later but all of this has been so disheartening, to see such a huge divide in our pagan communities during a time when we need to build bridges and stand united as our government and representatives are doing everything in their power to strip woman of our rights, and to take away any religious freedom or diversity…so much gratitude. Good reminder not to make this about personalities…

  35. Termple says:

    Max, reading your blog post was such a gift.

    Being at Panthacon this year was one of the hardest experiences of my life, one I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t found my Dianic path.

    Finding a way to honor myself and hold space for myself as i need it, but without passing judgment or care taking for those hurting around me are big life lessons I’m still learning.

    I have tried to write about my experience but have found a crushing feeling of the rest of the conversation pressing down on me. I will not let that hold me back any longer.

    Thanks for mentoring such a honorable way of discussing this.

    Also thank you for the not so glamorous work of “muttering crone”. Your presence was felt and I thank you from the heart.

    Love and respect,
    Temple (aka Phish)

  36. [...] on either of these two incidents on her own blog.  The only references to it on her Facebook wall coming from other people , and twice from herself. Once posting a link to a post detailing the happenings, and once asking [...]

  37. A wonderfully wise post, thank you. You have expressed what I feel too.
    I was disappointed in Thorn for attempting to interfere with another’s ritual and that’s what it was, intention or not – there is no excuse for that ever.

  38. admin says:

    I just approved a couple posts that my server did not deliver messages to me about. That is the reason for the delay, in case you were wondering.

  39. Ard says:

    A con is the perfect place to have rituals for all sorts of women, surgically, societally, or biologically created. Us muttering crones certainly do not think all alike, but still it is fairly easy for me to understand that there should definitely be different places for different sorts of women, this means that there can be things for biological as well as other sorts of women. They do not have to be together.

  40. Emma says:

    Max, thank you for this post. I have been sick to my stomach reading all the vitriol out there on this issue and feeling unable to express my opinion. I am friends with people on both sides of the issue and don’t want to alienate either side. (So I’m using a pseudonym for this post.) To set the stage, I’m a ciswoman, not Dianic.

    My two cents – first and foremost, aren’t Pagans all about tolerance? How come we can suddenly no longer tolerate a group (Dianics) who have been doing things their own way (ciswomen only) for such a long time? Not only can we no longer tolerate them, but people want to ban them, protest them, etc. I’ve seen lots of “reasons” out there for the “protest” (or whatever they’d like to call it) – ranging from “holding loving space for transwomen” to forcing an apology from Z for her hurtful comments, all the way to trying to make sure ALL PantheaCon rituals be appropriate and inclusive of EVERYONE. Paganism has never been that way! If people wanted an appropriate apology from Z, perhaps they should have invited her to a panel to discuss the issue instead of protesting women who simply want to practice their faith. Freedom of religion, anyone? Tolerance, anyone remember that one?

    In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never attended a skyclad ceremony because I’m uncomfortable with anyone seeing my body, ciswomen included. So I can’t speak for those who did want to attend. But the mere fact that there are “protesters” out there (someone on that side did make the comparison to the silent vigil at UC Davis) means, simply enough, that they were trying to shame the women who did attend. Not Z, not Dianic Wicca – because those could have been dealt with individually, or in a different forum – but shaming women who wanted to attend sacred rites. To my mind there is no greater insult.

    To me, one protests the great evils – the government, injustice, tyranny. So the fact that there were protesters there sent the message to the women attending: “You’re wrong. You’re shameful. We abhor you. You’re doing something terrible.” I really feel these folks are taking Occupy too far. Occupy the big problems – take the little problems out to coffee to discuss. Protesting a Dianic ritual is like swatting a fly with a Mac truck.

    As for trans vs cis in a gendered ritual…I am a trans ally. I know several transpeople and am friends with many. And I know enough to see that they all had different paths to becoming trans. Most of the ones I know were raised and grew up (and identified as) their biological gender, and only transitioned as adults. (I know that doesn’t represent everyone, but you have to admit it does cover many at the present time.) So in a Pagan religion, where we see embodiment, and embodied experience, as part and parcel of our sacred natures; where we see our human experience just as important as our sacred selves; where we see the divine here on the earthly plane, not limited to the heavens alone – how can we discount the idea that transwomen fundamentally have had a different experience on our green planet than ciswomen, and that sometimes ciswomen would truly like to be with their own kind?

    I’ve also seen the argument that “transwomen have been as oppressed and/or have gone through as much pain as ciswomen” – that’s NOT the point of the ritual, to rack up points for oppression and pain! If that were the case, then someone could make a point for a black man with AIDS, or a straight white man with leprosy, to be included because they’re also oppressed minorities dealing with pain and injustice. I hardly think that’s the bottom line – it’s about coming together with other women who have had the same concerns their whole lives, have had the same outward limitations imposed upon them by our society and culture.

    Again, I’m not Dianic, have never been to a ciswomen-only ritual, but I think it’s incredibly crude what people have done in the name of “you MUST include everyone because I said so” and this totally extreme PC attitude that denies our own natures. I actually saw a comment that said “a trans woman, even pre-op, is NO different from a ciswoman” – and I had to laugh. If that were really the case, there would be no need for the term trans in the first place.

    In closing – Pagans of all people should be the most tolerant of other people practicing their faith with no interference. You don’t need to believe the same thing, because every person’s path is different – go make your own group (or branch off, as the Bitterroot Honey Amazon ladies have done), but be tolerant of others. No need for protests or angry words. Do what makes you happy but don’t hurt others. (Oh gods, I think I just paraphrased the Rede….groan.)

  41. I myself was born inter-sex (of both female and male anatomy but with a soul and sense of self that was and is definitely female. Where do I sit as far as these female born only rituals? Should I be victimized because of a birth defect that also gave me a penis?

    Should I have to explain to the women at such a Ritual that I was born inter-sex, that I never bled but had the internal organs to do so? Where is the line to be drawn? The issue becomes even hotter when most peoples idea of a trans-woman is of a person who looks masculine but feel they are female? Because I look like a complete woman should I be disallowed from participating because as inter-sex I fall under the transgender umbrella?

  42. Jade says:

    In reference to the TG silent protest at this year’s Pantheacon (Pagan convention ) in San Francisco, where transgender/transexual women were excluded from women’s rituals, and Pagan author Zsuzsanna Budapest’s counter protest in response to same, and speaking as a transexual women, I don’t dismiss cis women wanting their own space, and I respect that, although I find Budapest’s argument based on “moon cycles” and uteri being specious and somewhat of a rationale based on convenience. My problem with the ban was two-fold: first, that Pantheacon’s organizers allowed rituals that excluded anyone on such thin grounds, and second, that Budapest and her supporters used such hateful and bigoted speech to further their transphobic agenda.

    It felt to me that their male-hatred was transferred onto trans women with no realization, or desire to understand, the traumas (VERY severe traumas and often death) inflicted on TGs by men (and yes sometimes even women) as well. To have one’s experience ridiculed and invalidated by a community that one expects and anticipates acceptance from (both Pagan and lesbian) is one more time I felt dehumanized, denied, labeled, accused and monster-ized in the very same way Christian fundamentalists, right wingers, redneck tweakers, Klansmen and homophobes of every stripe behave in the media and in person.

    As a transexual woman I have endured numerous death threats by neighbors, lost thousands of dollars to vandalism, suffered verbal abuse and physical assaults, been denied health care, have been denied employment for three years (since I came out), and have had handguns stuck in my face twice all for being a transexual woman. (Never mind the glares, the whispers, the giggling ridicule, etc.) Now I’m being called a “man,” a “violator,” a “patriarchal aggressor” and a lesser being not even fit to be called a “real” woman by Ms. Budapest and her followers. And I’M the violator? Apparently so, because many of Budapest’s supporters claim my “male energy” is enough to revive their traumas at the hands of men in their pasts and my “male energy” may possibly trigger a PTSD breakdown. Please.

    As stated, many of these posts cite rape as a rationale for exclusion of trans women. This reminds me of the same excuse we see for laws in Tennesee and Alabama for imprisoning trans women for using the women’s room — implying that trans women are really, once again, not only “men in dresses” but are all rapists as well. Even the post-operative trans women have the “rapist energy,” or something like that, and are therefore unwelcome.

    Somehow it never occurs to those same self-righteous victims of male priviledge that many trans women have also been raped or molested, including myself.

    Do they really think only cis women are victimized? Do they really think trans women are unworthy of “healing?” The stories of the abuses perpetrated upon many trans women are horrific, and implying that trans women are really just closeted rapers is just more salt in the wound. Again, trans women are not men — we are women. We do not have male privilege, or even cis female privilege (obviously) either for that matter. We are viewed as the detritus of society, the freaks. The unworthy, the monstrous, and now the potential rapists. Thanks.

    Ms. Budapest and her followers deserve a pat on the back from big-box Christian churches — their rhetoric has probably driven more people from Paganism and/or Wicca than any fundamentalist rhetoric ever could, including this former Pagan. Nicely done. I hope Ms. Budapest is proud of herself. Her apology is not accepted.

  43. admin says:

    I think most Dianics would say no, if you were raised as a girl. Intersex is not the same as transgender, at least according to intersex people i know, although opinions vary and there is considerable overlap, as well as differences. Most people don’t realize how high the rate of intersex births is, but the 1% rate i’ve seen would put it at one million people just in the US. Many of whom have suffered surgical excisions and other medical interventions in infancy.

  44. admin says:

    I agree that trans women (and trans men) are subjected to horrific levels of violence, and that the rapist charges are bogus.

  45. Thank the Source – they have finally gone – may the cisters take all their woman hating allies with them on their path and merrily dance off.

    Here is their goodbye where they assert that blood is blood – women have blood – men have blood – all blood, all good. They embrace yhe word cis and infer woman born woman is an offensive term. Geeze

    They give up the name Amazon. Its definitely a smart move. I can feel the need to do so for their own protection. I am so glad to welcome that precious name back home.

    http://bayarea.pagannewswirecollective.com/2012/03/09/an-important-message-from-the-amazon-priestess-tribe/

  46. Thank YOU! Finally, someone who understands that using cis is accepting male definitions of women.

  47. mich says:

    Wow,

    I just visited Max’s web page to help in my search for the divine feminine herstory, and have been really surprised that there is so much conflict with in the pagan/ thealogy community.

    I guess I will learn from meditation and books for awhile before getting into this ring.

    I truly hope your community finds love and healing through this process. Breakdowns generally lead to breakthroughs.

    Blessings on your journey.

  48. Aura Hazel says:

    http://unchainedaura.com/2012/03/17/the-divisive-power-of-a-word/
    as you can see for those who do not identify as trans but find cis offensive it has opposition in the trans community as well.

  49. Cypress says:

    Thank you for posting this. As a long-time advocate for trans rights, and also an advocate for the right of specific groups of women to have their own separate spaces, I agree wholeheartedly with your observations.
    It’s unfortunate how hateful and damaging dramas like these have been (I am speaking more broadly in the general, decades-long clash between feminists and trans persons on many fronts).

    I am also sad that CAYA no longer has their public Amazon ceremonies. It is, of course, their choice to do what they will, but I enjoyed the cis-women’s only space, and found a lot of comfort in therein. I will continually seek those kinds of spaces because I find a unique serenity and power in them. It is not out of ignorance or hatred towards trans women. That’s something that I wish more people could understand, but, even if they never do, it will not prevent my yearning to participate in and create those spaces.

    Much love to all, and may we find peace and acceptance of ourselves and each other.

  50. admin says:

    Thanks for posting this link!

  51. David says:

    I totally agree with Max on this one. This is all about freedom of space. This is not a bash against men or trans-women. We know that it is a very much historical fact that men have not only created their own sacred space but even foced their own spaces often at the expense of women even in cults that originally presided by women. In the so-called great monotheistic faiths the main centers of sanctity are held solely by men. No doubt if a trans-man (born a female) tried to get involved and was restricted, there would be controversy or issue at all would there?? At the same token what’s wrong with having a sacred space for women and that is ‘pure’ or natural women only?? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. And again it is all about personal choice and freedom. If one wants to create a space for trans-women only who is judge them let alone stop them?

  52. feistyamazon says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Max, for sharing your clearsighted perspective to holding space for Z to do her work, and in support of Dianics and Amazons, Butch DykeAmazons like myself, who feel VERY STRONGLY about our WBW space. The woman who speaks most eloquently about it in her video is on Z’s Goddess 2012 site…about that lineage of women that goes back genetically, biomorphically, 90,000 years…she practically cries when she speaks to how powerful it is to connect with other bio female women on that level…..our deep deep womyn’s blood mysteries…..I am glad you were at the line, and chanting those chants to Goddess to smooth the energies and bring more compassion. There is a chant to Kwan Yin I’ve been doing since a Dianic ritual I attended over a month ago, that calms me every time I do it. Thanks also for showing up to my event and ritual and adding your knowledge to our event and your own Wild Butch DykeAmazon energy to the ritual. Your knowledge is more precious than gold!

    I know you are fairminded and trying to bring balance, and also self-determination for all, while allowing us to have those Mysteries that mean the most to us personally, as born female women, including us radical ButchDykeAmazons! And thanks for calling out ‘cis’ as a word that is NOT our own. But neither would I call myself by that other word….res-gendered, just simply, a bio Female WBW Butch DykeAmazon!
    -In Sisterhood,
    -FeistyAmazon

  53. feistyamazon says:

    And the POWER of 3 muttering Crones together at the Gateway! Fantastic! Reminds me of the 3 Fates, the 3 Norns, and the rest of the 3 Crone imagery!

  54. Rose says:

    Frankly, I don’t see why some trans women feel such a need to participate in Dianic rituals. My own exposure to Women’s Mysteries showed me very quickly that they are a poor fit for trans women. I believe that since we trans people have such a unique experience, not shared by our “cis” sisters and brothers, that we need our own set of Mysteries.

  55. Ertla says:

    Thank you. I’m sick of this controversy, and even sicker of being jumped on by friends/acquaintances for questioning the right of anyone to exclude trans-women.

    Hilariously, many of the trans women involved are acting very much like other people raised as males in this context – basically monopolizing conversations in a manner reminiscent of the way that boys of my generation drowned out girls in high school, so that to truly participate in academics a girl needed to either be very strong willed or attend an all female school. (I was blessed with Asperger’s syndrome, so didn’t notice/succumb to the pressure to shut up and listen to those (males) who had more “right” to participate/talk. Most other female bodied individuals learned their “place”.)

  56. happydog1960 says:

    Originally I started out thinking that Thorn’s protest, and her supporters, were probably in the right. Since then I have changed my mind completely. I think it is very important for people to have rituals for women-born-women only, just as I think that it is important for people to have rituals for women-born-men, or men-born-women, or Celtic traditionalists only, or any other group who wants or needs time to themselves, for themselves. If we banish one we can end up banishing another, and another, until there’s nobody left except a bunch of people walking on eggs, phrasing everything as innocuously as possible, doing their best not to offend anyone at the expense of their own souls. That would be a kind of passive-aggressive hell.

    I agree with Z Budapest on very little, but my arguments with her go by the board in my defense of the right of people to gather. In the OTO, one of the primary beliefs is in the defense of “light, life, love and liberty.” If someone wants to have a women-born-women ritual, they have that absolute right. If you don’t want to go, then don’t go. I don’t go where I’m not welcome. Instead, I go where I am welcome. I don’t go marching into a Baptist church and demand that they acknowledge the Goddess. Likewise, I am not going to go to a women-born-women ritual and demand that they accept me, or anyone else. It’s possible to respect each other’s spaces and boundaries, and it’s possible for us to disagree civilly.

    So often, pagans are afraid to disagree. They do not want anyone to disagree or to dislike anyone else. No one is required to accept me, as I am not required to accept anyone. Anyone has the perfect freedom to dislike me intensely, and I have the right to dislike them as well. And I will defend their right to dislike me and to exclude me. That is part of personal liberty. I defend the right for people to separate from one another and make distinctions. And doing that is a hell of a long way from “bigotry.” Exclusion does not automatically equal discrimination. There are shades of gray here that are being deliberately overlooked.

    I want us all to get along. But I don’t believe that it’s necessary for all of us to do everything together all the time. That’s one of the basic “geek fallacies.”

    Thanks for hearing me out.

  57. It wasn’t that she wanted to hold a ritual for women who had menstruated. It’s that she said “all women”, and then proceeded to define people out of womanhood. Just like saying “all people” and then defining people out of it based on some random criteria, like having red hair.

    If I held a ritual for women who had hysterectomies, I wouldn’t say it was open to “all women” then call out only a specific type of women, I say “for women (set A) who have had hysterectomies (subset B)”. This does not negate the woman hood of women who haven’t had hysterectomies, but it says “this is for a specific subset of women based on physical experiences”. The same could be said for a ritual of healing for women who had been raped, support for women who had borne children, or celebration of cronehood (eg women over 50.)

    The difference is subtle, but crucial: You can design an exclusive space without negating those who are excluded.

    This is where Z and all of her defenders fail: They can’t just say “women who have menstruated” (a subset – some women due to health issues never menstruate.) They have to prattle on about “all women” and “those who weren’t ‘born’ women aren’t really women”. This is where and how the bigotry shows its ugly head.

    The fact is, the radical dianics are talking just like the evangelicals do when they talk about gay marriage – just as strident, acusatory and hate filled.

    BTW, I’m cis, bi, butch, nulliparous, disabled and have had a hist. Lots of women don’t have all these things in common with me. I don’t try to deny their womanhood, though.

  58. Veleda says:

    “Accusatory,” hmm, i see this in your post as well. I’ve already said that i’m not here to defend Z’s choice of words, but you are forgetting, if in fact you knew, that the campaign to ban Dianic rituals such as this predates her remarks. This is the larger issue, and in fact that campaign has succeeded. Pantheacon has changed policy so that these rituals cannot be featured as workshops, only in private suites. The rationale given is legal liability for gender discrimination, but in that case women-only rituals of any description are at risk as well. Slippery slopes…

  59. Tiff says:

    If pantheacon wasn’t a Danica only con then why we’re so many excluded couldnt they just have something not so limiting?

  60. Tiff says:

    dianic*

  61. Leilani says:

    Hail to the muttering Crones! I know that in the culture of Aloha in Hawai’i we
    know that many schools hold the knowledge. There is no one right way but many. I feel that there is enough space for all types of ceremonies and rituals to exist. We are all children of the rainbow respecting each others right to gaher in the way we feel safe and that fills out souls. May we feel Her loving arms around us holding us together at all times, even when there are times we go to do our secret mysteries. Isn’t it all still held in love and Aloha? Let the magick rise up and teach us in the face of challenges that being human can pose. Blessed be and Aloha.

  62. Absinthia says:

    Imagine no religion.

  63. Kaitlyn says:

    Cis privilege is the privilege that a cis person has over a trans person. What you are thinking about is oppositional sexism. This is what says “women are one specific way and men are another and no person should blur or transgress these boundaries.”

    There is definitely male privilege. However, a man might still beat up or kill another man. You can’t say “oh. where is male privilege now?” You can’t say it doesn’t exists. The same goes for this situation. The only parties involved are cisgendered people.

  64. Veleda says:

    No, not “oppositional sexism.” I’m talking about the pervasiveness of male supremacy, and the way men police and enforce conformity on women, of any stripe. I’m calling attention to the fact that a butch lesbian is indistinguishable to a stranger from a trans man. The attacker doesn’t know the difference, doesn’t care; all he knows is that this person does not “fit” and therefore equals a target. In either case the reason for the attack is that the person does not fit the decreed gender norms, whatever their internal identification may be.

    This analogy is spurious: “a man might still beat up or kill another man. You can’t say ‘oh. where is male privilege now?’
    I wouldn’t. Men do that every day, doesn’t take a drop away from patriarchy, it’s part of that system. Male privilege is not distributed equally, but a matter of degree, determined in racialized and gendered and classed terms. That is part of how the system of male dominance works. Men rape and oppress other men, typically in gendered ways. Those perceived as less masculine are subject to violence, verbal abuse (particularly name-calling like “pussy,” “faggot,” etc.) and subordination. Conquering men treat men of conquered peoples as feminized, because to be oppressed is to be like a woman. Feminization is a foundation of subordination on a global scale. This is also the basis of homophobic violence, including rape, and in many cultures, men who penetrate other men are classified as straight while those who are penetrated, dismissed as gay or trans. So the male privilege of a gay man is relative … to other men. Not to women.

    “The only parties involved are cisgendered people.”
    When a dyke is attacked by a man, being “cis” doesn’t enter into it. It is her resistance to patriarchal codes of gender, to the prescribed norms of femininity, that makes her a target. As a woman, she is a target to begin with; this is just an enhancement of an already oppressed status. The pattern of oppression here is clear-cut. You don’t see her stalking or attacking him, because the axis of oppression is male violence against gender-variant (or resistant) women, women who look or act “like men.” Or men who look/act “like women,” or trans people who plain don’t fit what they are “supposed to” be.

    You are treating dykes as somehow like men who get attacked by other men, because of a notion that their not identifying as men (that is, as trans men) makes them “cis” and therefore in the category of oppressors. If they identified as trans, that would put them in the category of oppressed, according to you. But since they don’t identify as men (trans men), then you define the dykes as analogous to (cis) men. The real parallel is that straight men attack trans people, and lesbians, and gay men, and sometimes bis, because they are threatened by any divergence from the set codes of sex and gender.

    Lesbians are not analogous to men, cis or straight or gay or trans, nor is the violence against us, most recently that horrific attack in Lincoln Nebraska, and the shootings in Texas, random. It is targeted, with a multiplier effect: the violence against women; against lesbians; against gender-non-conformity, and against feminist defiance as well. The violence against trans women and men is also targeted, for transgressing in their own ways the code that says, “women are one specific way and men are another and no person should blur or transgress these boundaries.” There are lots of differences between all these groups, but this is one area we ought to be able to agree on.