I’ve always felt like a complete human. No matter whether you’re male or female, or what race or culture you’re from, I’m guessing you have too. Not a partial human.
So today I want to talk about this.
And I won’t even comment on this, which is so awful it just makes me furious.
Very occasionally, we won’t be “disappeared” but we’ll very definitely be sidelined…
Sidelined and disappeared…
I want to point out a few facts now.
– We’re nearly 50% of the tickets. Women make up nearly 50% of movie sales at comic book movies (one recent survey suggested the figure of 44%). We’re a BIG market, not a tiny percentage of viewers and attendees and fans.
– Women are attending ComicCons in large numbers. This year’s San Diego Comic-Con had 40% female attendance. These events aren’t all white male antisocial geeks from basements. The crowds have changed, if they ever were that stereotype to start with.
– Women buy stuff. We want to buy merchandise, and we want that merchandise to feature our favourite characters. Not some of them. ALL of them.
– We want fairness. Women are increasingly pissed at the way we’re being sidelined in comics. We want our female characters, and we’re pissed that they’re not appearing as the STARS of movies.
– We want to be seen as real people. Women are also pissed at the way we’re being overly sexualized in comics and the movies that spring from them. We want accurate, diverse representation. We want to be seen as real, whole people, with real strengths and weaknesses, and real stories to tell. Because that is what we are.
Most of all, we don’t want to be seen as things. We want to be seen as people.
Speaking for myself and my daughter…and my daughter’s generation
It’s not hard to write real, strong women. Just write us as people, because that’s what we are. We screw up, we have frailties. We’re not governed by our relationships all the time. We are goal driven a lot of the time, especially if you’re writing a hero character.
Women can be heroes. Often we are.
Women can be leaders of men. Often we are.
Women can be strong, yet still completely feminine and powerful and amazing and uniquely beautiful. Often we are.
Even in real life, when I look at some of the strongest people I know, my mind often travels to the women I know rather than the men. We don’t typically hold higher career positions, because of the boundaries and limits that society has set us, but heck, we can be powerful.
So don’t sideline us. Don’t “disappear” us. It’s offensive and nasty and cheap and hurtful. It’s degrading and demeaning to some of the most incredible people I know.
Sure, these are superheroes I’m giving as examples, and you could claim it doesn’t matter. But it does. We all need our role models. We all need to believe we could be that hero on the screen. We all need to believe that we too can be the “chosen one”, the hero with a destiny greater than we thought possible.
We all need to dare to dream. Give us our dreams. We deserve them.
There’s been a lot of name calling going on in politics at the moment.
Apparently, women who have sex are sluts. Especially if we have sex outside of marriage. Even if we have sex inside of marriage sometimes.
But I want to ask – why? Why the emphasis on women? And if women who have sex are sluts and whores, surely men are too?
I guess that means that our mothers are sluts. And our grandmothers. And the Queen is a slut. And pretty much any women who didn’t remain a nun.
Name calling in the playground!
When I think back on primary school, I remember that kids used to call each other names a lot. And it was all about pecking order, and putting people into their social rank.
Names were used to make people feel bad about themselves. Names were used to put people down. Names were especially used by people in power to keep those who didn’t have the power from having any.
So you’d get the bullies name-calling the loser kids. And the jocks name-calling the nerds. And the popular kids name-calling the unpopular kids. Never the other way around.
So we had a nerdy kid who people labelled “Eugene” and gave him a hard time. And a girl we called “craterface” because she had bad skin. And a friend of mine used to get called “red pubes” by a group of guys because she had red hair and, well, they liked to make her feel uncomfortable.
Pleasant stuff. Real intelligent too. But it did it’s job: it made those without power feel worse, and those with power feel even more powerful. It kept those lower down the power hierarchy in their place.
And now we have grown up men calling women who have sex – and, let’s face it, the vast majority of women do have sex, so they’re by association name-calling all of us – sluts and whores.
Then they act all surprised when this is the result:
I love sex! OMG I’m a slut! And a whore!
I love sex. I really enjoy it, and yes, I’ve had sex with a lot of men in some people’s estimation. And a fair number of women.
I’m a slut! OMG! Kill me now! LOL.
I suppose, if you stretch things a little, I might even technically be a whore, because some of the guys bought me dinner beforehand. So I was PAID (in food) for sex, if you want to get nitpicky.
I have no regrets (well, there was this one guy who was pretty awful and had no clue…lol), and am proud of everything I did. It was consenting, and fun, and I enjoyed most of it.
I’m an adult, and I have the right to do what I want with my body. I believe that others have the right to do what they want with their bodies too.
If Aphrodite is the Goddess of beauty and love, then She is also the Goddess of sluts and whores. Which in some peoples eyes is all women.
I don’t understand why or how some people can hate women that much. I suspect it’s a combination of bad sex and too little of it, or maybe just lots of rejection by women in their lives. I feel sorry for them for that, but they’re not going to improve matters by hating women for their miserable sex lives.
In the meanwhile, I’m going to stand proud, as a slut and a whore, along with all my friends who are also sluts and whores, and continue to fight for our rights to do with our own bodies as we wish.
We all know that the churches of the Bible belt have been placing a massive emphasis on “purity” and virginity lately. Especially for women.
Teens are taking “purity pledges” and being “re-virginized” (whatever THAT means!) and promising to “wait” until they get married.
But have you ever stopped to ask – why?
Why the emphasis on this one aspect of human behaviour?
Think about it for a moment. How is a “good person” or a “valued member of society” usually defined?
Think of the people in history you’d consider to be heroes. They might be Jesus, if you’re a Christian – but I bet his sex life was never a big issue for you (do you even know how many sex partners he had? is it even mentioned in the Bible?)
Or you might think of Nelson Mandela. Or you might be thinking of Martin Luther King Jr. Or Marie Curie, if you’re a scientist. Or Fred Hollows, who restored eyesight for countless people in the world.
What about Mozart and Beethoven, and the beautiful music they gifted the world? Or Van Gogh, for his stunning artwork?
Or modern composers like Eric Whitacre, and the gorgeous pieces he’s currently writing for us to enjoy?
Other heroes you might consider could include people like your family doctor. Or a favourite teacher. Or the physiotherapist who helped you to walk again after you had a terrible brain injury.
They’re all heroes. Every one of them. All doing good works. All worthy of admiration.
If you believe in Heaven, every one of them deserves a place, wouldn’t you think?
I sure would.
Were they virgins when they married? If they married? And does God even care?
Of all these people, do you know for certain if any of them were virgins when they married? Did it matter? Did it make a difference to them being good people?
Did it affect their being valuable people, of worth to the world and those they loved and that loved them?
I’ll answer the question for you: not one bit.
Their sexual status when they married didn’t affect their contributions as unique individuals. And neither does your sexual status affect your contribution as a unique individual.
Don’t think so little of God!
If you think the Divine is so petty as to care about your virginity, well then, you’ve got one really petty little God you’re worshipping.
If you think God will judge you based on whether you’ve had sex or not, you’re really underestimating God. Plus, you’re really overestimating your own self-importance. The Divine has better things to worry about.
So why do the Churches care?
Firstly, don’t get Church and God muddled up. They’re NOT one and the same. Churches are made up of people. People with all their human frailties and mistakes and bigotries and confusions.
Churches have been telling people what to do and what to think for a long, long time. And a lot of the time, they simply represented what society thought.
When society got it wrong, so too did the Churches.
For example, when society didn’t know better and thought the sun revolved around the earth, the Churches defended this belief to the death. Literally. Galileo was tried by the Inquisition for his challenge to this theory, his books were banned, and he spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Other scientists that challenged the same belief (such as Giordano Bruno) were burned at the stake by the Church.
This all happened a long time ago, but what I’m pointing out is that the churches are fallible. They make mistakes, because they’re controlled and made up of people. They reflect common beliefs of society at the time. And sometimes not so common!
What’s more, the Churches, due to their generally conservative nature, tend to lag behind society, and are slow to change and update as society changes.
Society has changed, but the Church is still playing catchup
This is what we have now. Reliable contraception is relatively new (the pill was first approved in 1960, very recently in historical terms) and was a massive change to how women could control their fertility.
With that huge change, the status of women changed quickly. Women were suddenly no longer tied to house and children. We could choose to work and pursue careers, knowing that pregnancy wasn’t lying in wait for us unexpectedly.
Reliable laws supporting safe termination followed swiftly in 1973 with Roe v Wade, enabling women who did find themselves unexpectedly pregnant to end it with a safe termination. Terminations are very common – I’ve had one, as have about half of my friends. These days they’re safe and supported by public health insurance in most western countries – the days of backyard coathangers are thankfully over.
But all these changes, including other further advances such as the morning after pill (1997), are very new. Too new for the Churches to cope with. They’re still more than a century behind, back in the Victorian era, advocating abstinence until marriage.
But what’s wrong with abstinence?
Quite a lot, actually. But let’s start with numbers.
The average age of menarche (first period) for girls in the US is 12.5 years of age. Boys hit puberty on average at age 13.
So if they’re going to be abstinent, women are going to, on average, have to be abstinent for 14.4 years. Men are going to have to remain abstinent for 15.9 years.
Are you beginning to see a problem? I sure am! Can you imagine, as an adult, going without sex for about 15 years? It’s just not practical or reasonable to expect young people, at the height of their fertility, to not have sex for that long.
Furthermore, the same communities that are preaching the abstinence mantras are typically
a) not providing young people with full sex education, so they are more at risk of pregnancy, STIs and dangerous / abusive relationships should sex occur
b) not providing young people with access to contraception or teaching them how to use contraception properly
c) dumping guilt on young people when the inevitable does occur and they do have sex.
In other words, they’re preaching a virtually unachievable mode of behaviour for all but the most asexual of young people, then blaming those same young people when they cannot meet unrealistic expectations.
So why purity?
Purity has, and always will be until it finally suffers a permanent demise as a concept, been about control. It’s a way of making people feel: dirty, cheap, worthless, not good enough, not able enough. It’s a way of judging people and labelling people and keeping people (women) in their place that is hurtful and can be very cruel.
Yes, the pretty white dresses and “purity rings” are all very nice, but they’re a veil over a brutal attempt to control women.
What to do?
Don’t buy the lie. Don’t buy into the purity lie.
Instead, focus on being a good person. Do good works. Let your actions speak for who you are and what you believe is important and right. If you choose to wait until you find someone you love for sex, that’s only your business: no-one else’s.
It’s not the church’s. Or your minister’s. Or your parents. Or your friends.
Ignore the purity rings. And the purity balls. And the purity pledges. Be a good person because that’s who you choose to be, not to fit into someone else’s rules and regulations and guidelines and boundaries.
Have sex when you choose to. With who you want to. With as many or as few people as you choose.
Do it safely. Feel no guilt, because sex can be a beautiful, fun, pleasurable gift when you do it right.
But the only purity that you should ever concern yourself with is the purity of your food and drink. Because that’s the only purity that matters.
Before you go cringing at me reading it let alone re-reading it, let me explain.
I first read the book about a year and a half ago. I have a background in literature, and I generally try to keep up with what’s it the bestseller lists. Especially when a novel comes out of nowhere, the author is unheard of, and suddenly everyone is talking about the book.
Fifty Shades (soon to be a major motion picture – ohhh, aren’t we lucky!) matched all of the above criteria. Plus it was rumoured to be about BDSM, a topic of personal interest (to put it politely), so it piqued my curiosity.
I grabbed an e-copy, and started reading. And was appalled.
Fifty Shades of Stalking! Fifty Shades of Creepy! Fifty Shades of I’d Call The Cops!
The first thing that struck me was that the love interest, Christian Grey, was more of a stalker than a Dom.
He was downright creepy, and I’d have been more inclined to call the cops on him than take a roll in his “Red Room Of Pain” (major LOLs at that!).
But also, the whole thing was just wrong. It got everything wrong. (Except for the playing to Spem In Alium thing – that was kinda cool actually…)
Fifty Shades of So What Was Wrong With It?
It made kink out to be some sort of mental illness. Like people who do this sort of play have something wrong with us, and it takes a good vanilla girl to set things right. It supported the old, and completely wrong, assumption that kinky people have all been molested as children and suffer from mental illness.
Apparently in Books 2 and 3 of the series, Ana (the protagonist) “heals” Christian Grey from his kinky habits and they go on to live happy, vanilla lives. Presumably with 2.3 kids, a white picket fence, and a BMW in the driveway.
Major vom voms.
Kinky people are normal. Just kinky
I look at myself and my play partner, and we grew up in very typical, normal, healthy families. No broken homes. Not molested as children. Or ever. No horrible “Uncle Fester” types grabbing a grope the moment our parents’ backs were turned.
We’re just kinky because we like to play that way, just like people who are gay are born that way too. Or people who are straight are born that way too.
From my observation, we’re no more likely to have mental illness than the rest of the population, although there does seem to be a higher percentage of geeky / nerdy types among the kinky set than the general population.
Fifty Shades of She Didn’t Do Her Due Diligence!
How the author of Fifty Shades could have got it so completely wrong is beyond me. All I can think is that she’s not the slightest bit kinky herself, and did a minimum amount of research with Mr Google before deciding to write the novel.
It’s a shame too, because had just a few things been changed (okay, well, quite a few things!) she could have used the novel to educate instead of denigrate.
Fifty Shades of OMG it’s a WHIP!! Run!!! Run for your life!!!
BDSM can look scary to the untrained eye. Yes, we do play with people’s comfort zones and boundaries. It’s a way of living life on the edge. Living a little bigger and brighter and darker. Seeing the world in all shades of the spectrum – not just shades of grey, you might say.
It’s not for everyone. Most people are happier without kink. It doesn’t suit them. That’s fine.
A lot of things that people do can look scary, or even crazy, to the untrained eye. Strapping a pair of planks to your feet and shooting fast down a snowy mountain (skiing), or taking a running jump off a cliff with only a few nylon pieces of fabric to hold you up (paragliding), or sitting in a metal tube thousands of feet above the earth with nothing but air between you and the ground (flying in a jet aircraft) – all these seem foolhardy to the uninitiated.
Some people like to live life safely while others like to experience everything life can offer. We all live life along a spectrum of what we want to experience or are willing to experience.
The choices are ours alone – it’s only when those choices are taken away from us, as portrayed in the Fifty Shades book, that experiences move from being consentual to being abusive. Ana is in an abusive relationship with Christian, not a healthy kinky one.
Fifty Shades of A Complete Disgrace
So what has all this to do with Aphrodite? Quite a bit actually. As you might remember from the Charge of the Goddess,
All acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals
Yet this book twisted something that is usually about pleasure, and often about love, into something that was more about mental illness and stalking and insecurity.
Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t portray a loving, kinky relationship. I should know – I’m in one. It portrays a relationship of mental abuse and stalking, of complete mental manipulation where the recipient is NOT consenting or enjoying what she is receiving. It’s abusive, plain and simple. Everyone I know in the kinky community would advise Ana to get the hell out! I sure would.
Kink is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be pleasurable – otherwise we wouldn’t do it. It’s supposed to be cathartic, and a way of finding release, and experiencing sensation, and moving towards a deeper experience of reality.
It is often about Dominance, but not in a petty, stalking sort of way. Fifty Shades might have done the world a service in the end, by encouraging lots of newbies to experiment. But I can’t help thinking the overall result will be negative, because the vanilla, majority world will believe that the kinky world is one of stalkers, abusers, and the mentally ill.
In closing, if you’re intrigued by BDSM, don’t believe a shred of what you read in Fifty Shades. Instead, go find your local kinky community leaders, and join a local group. You’ll find they’re a lot more normal than Christian Grey. Or join an online community like Fetlife if you find face-to-face too intimidating at first. Above all, though, go with your gut.
Play safe. And have fun. That’s what it’s all about 🙂
I get to wear funky robes and have sex with thousands of hot male slaves, of course 😉
Who wouldn’t want to be Priestess of Aphrodite with a gig like that? Sheesh!
Seriously, serving the Goddess of Beauty and Love is all about intent. I honour Her with my actions. She gives me confidence in everything I do, in all my acts – especially those to do with beauty, sexuality and love.
Aphrodite is an enabler. A facilitator. In other words, She gives Her Priestesses and those that serve Her the powers that She governs.
Aphrodite is the Goddess of Love, Beauty, Sex and Sensuality, among other aspects. So when you decide to tread Her path and follow Her you begin to find all aspects of those parts of your life and your personality falling into place.
This doesn’t mean that the moment you decide to honour Aphrodite as your patron Goddess that you’ll suddenly wake up the next morning all sexified or hunky. But it does mean that you may find that your own unique form of sexuality and beauty begins to make sense to you on a level that it may not have before.
If you felt scattered or uncertain about what you wanted (like I did), everything pulls into focus. If you lacked confidence or security in expressing who you are, your own inner, sensual self will be made clear.
You’ll feel – if your experience is anything akin to mine – like you suddenly don’t have to fit in with society’s demands any more. They weakened you. Instead you find yourself, independent and unique, and the world begins to listen.
That is the power of Aphrodite.
Shedding the skin of superficiality, and creating real beauty
Priestesses and Priests of Aphrodite – and I am beginning to know a few around the world – are not cookie-cutter Barbie doll types. Far from it. They stand out in a crowd. People stop to look at them. They’ve found their own form of power through serving the Goddess.
They’ve learned, or are learning, how to shed the skin of superficial beauty society attempts to force us to mould ourselves into. They’re learning how to embrace our own, unique, powerful forms of beauty and sensuality.
Serving the Goddess is all about strengthening women. Creating balance. Supporting freedom of sensuality. Expressing our sensual selves. Connecting with the sea, and the water. There is a reason Aphrodite is often portrayed balanced upon a scallop shell – She is an image of balance between the genders, a symbol of the re-assertion of femininity.
Aphrodite enables women to make choices regarding our reproductive and sexual freedom. Curtaining the reach of patriarchy. Limiting the rule of men over women, wherever we find it. Recognising women’s intrinsic power over men, and being unafraid to use it. Shamelessly so, but fairly.
Aphrodite isn’t a great one for Olympian-style ritual. She’s one, instead, for action. Serve Her in deeds, not in flowery performance. Serve her with your body, soul and mind, not with words and theatricals. She grows stronger as women grow stronger.
Remember that She is an ancient Goddess – according to Hesiod, She is the daughter of Uranus, the primal Greek sky God, and absolutely worthy of reverence, possibly older than any of the other Olympian Goddesses.
As a Priestess of Aphrodite, it is my duty to usher in her Rise. Aphrodite – and other ancient deities – has been persecuted for nearly two millenia under the push of Christanity and Islam across the world. Only now, as Christanity at least is in its death throes, is She re-asserting herself.
The image of the hot male slave is, as far as I can tell, by artist “Built By Tall Steve”.
For a long time the whole Madonna-Whore Complex gave women two roles – we could be “pure” as wives, mothers and virgins. Or we were “dirty” as whores – women who enjoyed and appreciated sexual fulfilment.
Madonnas and whores – the two categories for women.
Nothing in between. The thought that sex could be a normal healthy part of a person’s (particularly a woman’s) life was, and is still, problematic for people who see women as either madonnas or whores, as pure or impure.
Because sex is such a massive stepping stone in the madonna-whore world, such a huge item of goods to be traded and sold by a woman’s father on her wedding day to the prospective husband, it can never be seen as a normal healthy thing that humans simply do because its enjoyable and natural.
In the Madonna-Whore world, virginity is of incredible importance. Without her virginity, a woman is worthless. Soiled. Trash.
And a man who has had sex with many women? Well…
Have you ever noticed how there are so many words for a woman who has had sex (or a woman who people think has had sex) but there are very few for men?
The outcome of “sluts versus studs”
So we get the politicalisation of contraception – because only a whore would need it. Once a woman is married, her role becomes simply that of “Mother” or “Prospective Mother” and contraception is an unmentionable. Although almost all couples use contraception in modern society, it’s an unmentionable topic. People pretend it doesn’t happen.
And we get the politicalisation of abortion. Only a whore would abort. A “nice” pure girl doesn’t get pregnant in the first place (because she’s “abstinant”). And if she does (whoops!), she’ll marry the father and have her Happily Ever After.
This very narrow view of women – as pure or impure, madonna or whore – stems from patriarchal religions, is tied up with the old worldview of women as chattel and property, and is directly at odds with the direction society is headed in. Hence the clash between the patriarchal churches and society at large.
And the churches are losing. You can see this very clearly in the political landscape in the United States at the moment, the likely collapse and fragmentation of the Republican party – it has aligned itself with the old, white, extreme right religious sects of society, and is finding it simply doesn’t have the numbers. Those numbers are reducing at a very rapid rate, reflecting the way society is changing.
So what’s happening?
Sex is coming out of the closet. That’s what’s happening.
Women are starting to talk about sex, we’re starting to proclaim loudly that it is natural to enjoy sex – with however many partners of whatever gender we wish – and that whatever sex we happen to enjoy does not value or devalue us as individuals. It is simply something we, as human beings, do.
The changes we’re seeing in society, and the death of the madonna-whore complex, are part of women’s movement towards full equality as human beings. That’s all it is.
A group of people cannot be equal as long as they continue to be put into boxes for their behaviour and stereotyped. The “purity” concept needs to die – and the sooner the better. Purity is a concept that should be attached to clean water, or safe food. Not to women and girls. Not to people. We’re not a commodity. We’re human beings.
Aphrodite is a Goddess who represents the sexuality and power of women. She is strong, and fearless – and yes, she is sexual, and sensual, and beautiful. That is why she is intensely uncomfortable for people who have traces of the Madonna-Whore complex instilled in them. Because we’ve been taught that sexuality should be secretive, that is doesn’t give us strength and power. Yet it does.
This is why I think women need to embrace Aphrodite and what she represents. Make peace with our beauty, our sexuality, our sensuality. Be proud to say we enjoy sex. With whomever we choose. In whatever way we wish. Our bodies are our own to use as we desire.
That is why we do the Slut Walks, and why we support the womens shelters. That is why we do NOT bitch against other women, or criticise them for their sexual choices. That is why we support the right to choose, and the right to have safe, freely accessible contraception. Because all of these things are about the right to control our own bodies.
I’m no Madonna. I’m no whore. I’m a human being. And so is every other woman on this planet. It’s time to throw the boxes out the window. None of us is pure, or impure. There is no such thing as virginity – I’m tossing that out too.
Aphrodite is a difficult Goddess. She makes no apologies for that. Why should she?
She’s not convenient, not politically correct, she doesn’t abide by society’s rules and guidelines. And I think the reason she is rising is because we need her, more than ever.
Women are becoming more powerful. Over the last 100 years we’ve gone from have few choices to even being world leaders. We lead countries and companies, we have our own television shows and our own story-writing empires. We top the music charts and the bestseller lists, and we raise families and stun the world with our sporting achievements.
There is nothing we cannot do.
But with these massive changes to the status of women has come the inevitable backlash. It had to happen, of course – because with the rise of any previous underclass there will always be a small proportion of their previous rulers who are unhappy with the change.
One of the primary forms this backlash is taking is an attack of female sexuality. So we’re seeing – in America in particular – “purity balls” and “reclaimed virginity” (absolutely ridiculous!), a vicious attempt by the religious right to put women, once again, back under the control of men.
We’re seeing “slut shaming” (Think Miley Cyrus – did you notice how little comment Robin Thicke got for his behaviour in the “twerking” incident?) and a widespread attack on women’s rights to choose regarding abortion and contraception.
All of this is inevitably doomed to failure. But that doesn’t mean its perpetrators aren’t going to do their best to try.
In response, Aphrodite rises, more powerfully than ever. We’re seeing battle lines being drawn – and, in my experience, you’re a fool if you try to take on a Goddess!
So we’re seeing, in response to these attacks on our sexuality (the domain of Aphrodite), “slut walks“, vocal appeals in support of rape victims, Steubenville-like fallouts (where men suddenly realise that the game is changing and the world no longer tolerates their behaviour), Roastbusters fallout (ditto), and real, open discussion about sexuality and consent becoming more common in families, in youth groups, and in schools.
Like the recent, massive improvements that are happening for equal marriage rights around the world, I believe it is easy to see which way these issues will inevitably, historically fall. Like I said, you’d have to be a real fool to take on a Goddess when she is on the move. And it is clear that Aphrodite is rising. The whole testing ground of women’s sexuality and our rights regarding our sex lives and our physiology are on the table now, up for debate, and it is clear which way the wind is blowing.