Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sexism in Neo-Paganism

Look at me, bringing these two blog themes together in one perfect post. This is a subject that makes me grind my teeth, and it's possible you've come across it: the misandry present in some traditions of goddess-worship.

There are some Neo-Pagan and witchcraft writers who have a terrible opinion of men. Many of these writers are straight and married, which confounds me even more. Yet their hatred of men must simmer down there somewhere, in their hidden depths, because they tear men down. They declare them tainted, bad, evil, violent, dirty. Men, to these writers, are perverts, thugs, brutes, with no love in their hearts, no passion, beauty or art.

"[The Goddess] restores aspects of men's humanity, and divinity, which have been sacrificed to an unbalanced and unhealthy concept of masculinity."
 - Phyllis Curott, Witch Crafting, pg 125
"In the wasteland of emotional suppression, the Goddess offers the healing, freedom, refreshment and empowerment that connecting to your feelings will give you. She offers sexuality and eroticism that is whole and integrated into the realm of feelings, instead of isolated and objectified in body parts, magazines, porn flicks, one night stands and strip clubs."
 - pg 126

 Men are inhuman and inhumane. Their identity, their understanding of their own masculinity, is clearly inferior to Curott's own, which of course is not at all unbalanced. Men are emotionally stunted at best, emotionally dead at worst, and can't properly enjoy sex, obviously, because they're so obsessed with boobs and penises and porn. They'll never feel real love without the goddess, let alone enjoy sex with a spouse!

This isn't just insulting, it's upsetting. If this sort of disgusting sexism was directed at women there would be hell to pay. But it's OK if it's directed at men?

I would hate for there to be a culture of man-hating developing in Paganism. It's in Starhawk, it's in Curott, it's in more authors besides and it disturbs me to think of a generation of young Pagans reading this shit and internalising it. I hate to think of girls inheriting a chip on their shoulders about men, thinking they're all violent and hateful, and I hate to think of boys thinking they're horrible people who need a goddess to save them from their "original sin" of being born with a penis. (Or not, I guess, if they're trans.)


Men are awesome. For that matter, penises are awesome. Many of these authors worship gods as well as goddesses, and I don't understand how they can worship a deity and not respect their gender.


  1. I think sometimes what baffles me about this subject when it's taken to the extreme as in the example you gave, is how a connection doesn't seem to be made to other religions that solely worship a male figure to an extreme claiming that women are born with sin or evil and so on and so forth. It's just going from one extreme to the other in my opinion and yet I've seen some who claim how different their religion is because it instead embraces the Goddess. Yes, the genders have swapped but it's still being taken to a radical level.

    To each is their own of course but yes I agree it's a little disturbing to think that this is becoming or could become a popular notion, that one reigns supreme over the other instead of seeking to find both positive and negative aspects of each in their own way. To me that just makes sense to becoming a more rounded person spiritually.

  2. Dal: I agree. It's like on the one hand there's this anger at "the patriarchy" and some religions for their male-centric theology and the historical categorisation of women as lesser, second-class, inferior or the source of sin. Meanwhile they're totally unaware of their deep-seated hatred of men. They'd probably tell you they loved men (possibly they'd qualify it by saying "if they know the goddess" or something) but how can this be anything less than misandry when similar comments about women would never pass muster?

    Now, I've read a Neo-Pagan book that was misogynistic and the hatred for women was so pervasive that I couldn't bring myself to read it. So it's not the only sexism present in Neo-Paganism. But neither should be acceptable.

    Anyway, it seems like I pick on Curott there, but she just happened to be the book I had closer to hand to quote from.