Friday, July 13, 2007

This Might Piss You Off

I was reading Deborah Lipp's blog, Property of a Lady, the other day and found a post entitled Harassment in an Elevator.

At first I totally bought this article. I was like "Yeah, those guys suck. Society is screwed..." Then I took a shower and thought about it. I mean really thought about it. The conclusions I came up with were much different than my initial reaction.

Then, in the interest of getting all the facts, I wandered over to where the post originated from and saw some pictures. Firstly, I'm not saying this woman is not attractive but she certainly does not look like a stripper. I think it's the leotard. She looks more like a dancer. Strippers typically don't shop at the same places ballet dancers do. And the gloves or wristlets she's got on say "costume" for sure.

So, after gathering my facts and giving this some serious thought I now have a well formulated opinion. Or something like it. Below is the original article and below that is what I have to say about it. You can choose to only scroll half way if you're not interested in my thoughts.


Until, going to the bathrooms on the second floor alone**, I stepped into the elevator. It was filled with men who were all taller than me, and not wearing WisCon badges. They looked surprised and pleased as I got in. And I felt uneasy and self-conscious before I had time to think of why.

“Well, hey, now,” one guy murmured. “Hey there.”

“Yeah,” another chuckled.

“Second floor, please,” I said.

“Hey!” someone else said. “What’s going on on that floor?”

“Costume party.”

“Well, can we go?”

They laughed appreciatively. I said “No.” And I got out.

And that was it. They didn’t say anything foul, they certainly didn’t touch me, and it wasn’t even close to harassment by the standards of our society. So why was I shaky and scared and angry afterwards?

Two things:

1) At the costume ball, my clothing – fishnets, black leotard, blonde wig - was coded “superhero”. In the elevator, it was coded “stripper”.

2) Everyone is conditioned to assess women primarily by how sexually attractive and/or available they appear to be. Making that assessment clear is normal. Vocalizing that assessment is normal. Blaming women for others harassing or abusing them based on how attractive they are or what they were wearing at the time is normal.

If you’re gearing up to say something like “But nothing really bad happened!” or “Well, what did you expect?” or “Come on, weren’t you looking for attention?”, or “They were just being nice!”: don’t.

I know that those men almost certainly meant me no harm; they probably thought expressing a wish to follow me to a party was a compliment. It is entirely possible that none of them have ever imagined being in an enclosed space with a group of big strangers eyeing you up and asking if they can come with you could be a frightening experience. Our culture is set up so that they’ve never had to.

This and like incidents have happened to me, like many women, time and time again: strange men telling me to “smile!”; strange men shouting “Show us your tits!” as they drive past; strange men groping my breasts and ass in crowded train carriages.

(Women also buy into the patriarchal imperative to judge women primarily by their physical appearance, and that is also extremely unpleasant. However, as it is far less likely that women will follow such assessment with rape or other violent crime, it is generally much less threatening when a woman says, “You look like a whore.”)

If a woman doesn’t want to be viewed – for some weird reason - as a sex object, her choices are limited. She can be visibly angry or ignore harassment, in which case she is a FRIGID BITCH who can’t take a COMPLIMENT from NICE GUYS. Or she can be pleasant in an attempt to show them she’s actually a human being, in which case she may be ASKING FOR further “compliments” with her MIXED SIGNALS.

Or she can stay at home.

- Karen of Girls Read Comics (And They’re Pissed)


Now for my thoughts...err rant. Stop reading now if you suspect this might piss you off and you're not in the mood. :)

"I felt uneasy and self-conscious before I had time to think of why."

If you're uneasy and self-conscious why is that someone else's fault? I have been in this situation numerous times, and while being surrounded by a bunch of strange men can be somewhat intimidating, it doesn't have to be. Why not make it an empowering situation? At that moment they were admiring the woman walking into the elevator. She made a conscious choice to feel uneasy and nervous. She could have chosen to feel powerful and even beautiful.

Let's face it folks, we're animals. Animals are driven by instinct. Our instincts tell us to be attracted to someone or not. Men are easily attracted to a woman who appears to be fun, interesting, and yes clad in tight clothes. Remember that our ancestors didn't wear clothes. The body is a big turn on. Anyway, I digress.

Men (straight men) are hard wired to be attracted to women. It's just a biological fact. And thank goodness for it or there would be no people on this planet. It is this drive to reproduce (in conjunction with the natural nurturing qualities of women) that is responsible for the thriving human race. If we expect men to honor us for being what makes us women - bleeding, birthing, nursing, emotional-izing, multi-tasking, powerful women - then why shouldn't we honor them for what makes them men? Yes they are sex driven and yes most of them have the will power to control those desires. But they can't control the every-seven-minute sexual thoughts any more than we can control the blood that pours from our wombs.

Now, before I get the whip let me clarify that I do not believe women should should be seen or used as objects. But admiring a beautiful woman in an elevator is far from objectifying her.

I've been married to the same man for almost 11 years. In that time his libido has not slowed down for a second. For a long time I would get annoyed when he told me I was hot or that he thought I looked sexy. I thought that was his feeble attempt at getting into my pants. In a way, that's true, but at the same time this is how a lot of men know how to show interest, affection, and desire for their partner. In short it's a normal working of the human brain to want to be desired and to desire someone else.

My main point here: You can choose to feel powerful instead of weak. You can choose to be a gorgeous and confident woman who can wrap a man around her finger. Or you can choose to be a frightened little girl with confidence issues. There are thousands of women who would love to be shown a little (appropriate) attention by a bunch of men.

This leads me to another point.

"Everyone is conditioned to assess women primarily by how sexually attractive and/or available they appear to be."

No kidding. And women do the same thing with men. Are you going to go up and talk to the unattractive guy at the bar who looks like he might not have showered in a week or are you going to catch the eye of the hunky 6 foot guy with nice hair? Again, this is another biological instinct. We go for the people who appear to have the better genes or jeans. Physical attraction is huge. Imagine being in a relationship with a really nice guy who couldn't turn you on. One word: Hell.

American men could use some changing. This is very true. Mostly I think they should learn to be more cultured, less interested in football, and more vocal with their emotions without having their buddies question their sexuality. And absolutely many of them could learn to appreciate and honor women instead of objectifying them. Let's just keep things in perspective and remember that they are men - human - and they can't control their hormones any more than we can.

To close I am going to clarify a few things.

- There is a big difference between admiration and harassment.
- There is a big difference between attraction and objectification.
- There is a big difference between showing someone attention and raping them.
- There is a double standard for men that shouldn't be there. Men are Goddess too.
- There is a choice in everything.

Now bring on the flogging.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Everything's Coming up Goddess

A few days ago I read this post at Aquila ka Hecate which then led me to this post by Hecate. Check out the quotes below.

"I resolved this morning on the way to work to see everything I beheld as Goddess.
My partner beside me, driving my car-he is Goddess.

The car herself is Goddess. Her name is Astarte.

The early morning lights of Woodmead, with those dreadful smoke stacks billowing against the sky -that's Goddess."


- Terri at Aquila ka Hecate


"and that my chance to go back to my office and do what I do best in all the world -- write and edit -- is Goddess, and that my ability to mange everyone's emotions is Goddess, and that getting to read a perfect ritual proposed by my brilliant friend E. for my genius friend B. is Goddess and that a half an hour -- a whole half an hour -- alone in the car with the gorgeous man-Son-Scorpio lawyer that I bore and raised all by myself -- a whole half an hour with Son -- is Goddess, and that his beautiful, kick-ass, wonderful mother of a wife is Goddess,"

- Hecate


So now the words "thou art Goddess" have become my personal mantra. If I too can resolve to see everything around me as Goddess perhaps I can be the "better self" Hecate talks about in the rest of her post.

The cigarette - potentially deadly; toxic, billowing spirals of smoke around my head like "my own locomotive" as Billy Collins said - this is Goddess. The anger that composes up my shadow and hurts other people is Goddess. My husband - who gets that anger and my heart - he is Goddess (especially his sexy butt). The grocery store clerk who makes me want to call her a dumb ass - she is Goddess. My mother - who drives me nuts and makes me love her fiercely all at the same time - she is Goddess. My daughter - my source of giggles and faithful partner in ice cream crime - she is most definitely Goddess. The people I look at with disgust - like twenty year olds who wear jeans so low their labia are almost visible or their boyfriends with their hats spun sideways and a chunk of fake diamonds around their necks - they are Goddess. My neighbors who I all too often think of as white trash - they are Goddess. My Circle mates - they are Goddess - Goddess of much needed laughter, love, and spiritual connection. My best friend - long time support system and my journeying companion - she is very much Goddess; the Goddess of no-panties.

Maybe with those words perpetually in my mind I can start to see the world and other people with fresh fruit eyes; brand new and ripe with sweetness. Maybe I can stop being angry when my girl-mones rage and the heat has gotten the best of me. Maybe I can stop blaming the anger on the girl-mones and the heat and get a good look at the giant still life of sadness that hides in some locked box inside my brain. And maybe I can just remember that I am human - but Goddess - and I don't have to be afraid to fail at being perfect.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Hecate and Terri for their lovely posts. Quite honestly I think this topic has been something life changing for me. As you can see I've added some stuff to the top of the page that relates to the "Everything is Goddess" idea. I've realized now that this entire blog has been about this concept and I am eternally grateful to the two of you for expanding my understanding and speaking your truth.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Goddess Inside a Piece of Jerky

I had a thought today while eating beef jerky. Weird, I know. Anyway, I was thinking to myself that I was consuming the life of another living thing. I was then struck with a thought about the concept of Oneness...

If all things are one - are the Goddess - then the Goddess destroys parts of herself to help other parts of herself to thrive. Why then do you suppose she would "pick" us to be the kind of life that thrives more than some others. The Goddess teaches that all life is one life and no life is more worthy than another. So what makes us so special? Do we contribute more somehow to her well being? Do we provide more physical experience for her than other life forms?

I searched for a metaphor for this and tried out my own body. I haven't come to any conclusions yet, but I am trying to see what my body destroys that are a part of me - that I presumably need to survive - in order to "feed" other parts. I know these are some obscure thoughts, but I thought it might be something worth pondering. I'll be searching for other metaphors/comparisons and looking into science, the natural world, human physiology, etc. to gain some insights if anyone wants to ponder or search with me.

One insight so far: We create. Not just other beings but art, poetry, buildings, etc. We have reasoning abilities that other animals do not that allow us to create without mixing our DNA with someone else's.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Discordia Comes Out to Play

the goddess erisBefore I begin I just want to clarify that these are my opinions and you are more than welcome to disagree with them. In fact, I encourage you to voice your own discord by using the comments link at the bottom of each post.

Now, on to the meat and potatoes of it...

I’m frustrated. I feel as though Wicca and the overall idea of doing spells and magic (with a k) has gotten out of hand and become just plain silly. I don’t think Pagans will ever be taken seriously if we don’t lose some of the Dungeons and Dragons type mentality that seems to infest our communities. I’m not saying playing D&D is a bad thing. In fact, it's a great social pastime. I am only saying that I believe that type of fantasy has no place in religion.

Spells were cool and exciting when I was a teenager. Now I consider them prayer with props. Why then don’t we just call it prayer or petitioning? At some point we may have to come to terms with not being able to "take back" all the terminology we use. When people hear the word "spell" along the same vein as religion they immediately think crazy. This is especially the case when there are a ton of role playing games utilizing the idea of our prayer system as a way to do battle with enemies. Harry Potter has added fuel to that fire as well.

I’ve met people who believe in dragons, fairies, gnomes, bigfoot, etc. When I speak with them for the first time I have to fight to keep a straight face. Actually, what I want to say is "Go sell crazy to the Fundies. They're always looking for more and we have all we can handle here."

I think there is a certain amount of hypocrisy at work in the D&D minded Pagan crowd too. For example, I have heard more than one of them say that the Bible is archaic and its ideas ridiculous. They speak of how it is impossible to part the red sea or turn water to wine, etc. Okay. Then why in the world would you believe in mythological creatures?

Reality sucks sometimes. I get that and I’m totally on board with having a healthy fantasy life. But at some point in your life you have to face reality. I would prefer that my religion be firmly rooted in the real world so that I'm fully prepared when reality rears its ugly head.

Children should be able to maintain a belief in fantasy. I would never want to rob my child of the magic of Santa or the idea that there are little beings that watch over her. One day I can explain to her that these are metaphors that represent wonderful aspects of nature and the Goddess.

Look, I really want to believe unicorns are real. I still turn to look at every apple orchard I pass in the hopes that somewhere within the mists there will be a gorgeous, one-horned white horse with a mane that ripples in the wind. I want to believe. But I have yet to see a unicorn whinny at the moon and I have yet to speak with a faerie.

On the other hand I have taken in the scent of the summer breeze on my face, felt the heat of fire on my skin, held the earth in my hands, and drunk deep of the purity of water. I have witnessed the changing seasons and watched the moon wax and wane. I have felt the rhythms of the Earth within me and noticed my connection to all things. Nature is real. Nature I can touch, see, taste, smell, hear, feel, and sense.

To sum up, I am not saying we should not hold on to the hope that some of these things can exist – at least in some other realm, the astral, or whatever. I am simply saying that there should be more reality rooted in our religious practices. If one more person asks me if I can feel the trapped spirit in their (insert mundane object here) I may just have to let the giggles escape.

In my opinion, superstition and ideas originating in fantasy have not been something the human race typically deals well with. Those ideas usually come to an end with someone getting burned at the stake.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beta Readers Wanted

I've been writing a novel like story for a while now and I just can't seem to get inspired to finish it. I'm hoping someone will volunteer to read it for me and perhaps lend me a hand. See the details below.

Fallen
(Supernatural Romantic Suspense) Mourning messed up woman artist meets mysterious English photographer who leads her to a demon filled destiny and possible apocalypse.

The current draft is aprox. 60 pages long in 12pt Times. Looking for some sincere and well thought out feedback as well as reader suggestions for where they would like to see the story go from here.

To be a beta reader please email me at grian12@gmail.com. I'll send you the story and you'll be on your way. Much thanks in advance!


EXCERPT

“Hey,” she called from the doorway.

He sat up instantly, awake and reaching for his sword.

“Whoa,” Aleigh said. “Slow down there. It’s just me.”

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Nothing. I just thought we could have some wine and a chat.”

He looked from her to the bottles and back again.

“Oh come on. I’m bored,” Aleigh said.

He continued to hesitate.

“Don’t make me beg Sean. At least let me have one more night of normalcy. Who knows when I’ll ever be able to sit around drinking wine with a handsome man again?”

His face changed a bit, softening with feeling. Her guilt-trip approach had worked.

“Okay, but there will be no getting drunk. We’ll be fodder for the Watchers if we drop our guard.”

“Yeah, okay whatever. Let’s go sit by the sea.” Aleigh led the way through the door, calling over her shoulder “And no more demon talk.”

Sean sighed, something he seemed to be doing a lot of lately, and followed his charge out into the fading daylight.

Two and a half hours later they were polishing off their second bottle of wine and were as at ease with each other as old friends.

“You know I just realized something,” Aleigh said.

“What’s that?” Sean asked.

“One of my parents was an angel.” She took a deep breath and another sip of wine. “Wow, that sounds pretty bizarre.”

Sean was quiet and for a moment as they both gazed up into the night sky.

“Your father,” Sean said. “He was the angel.”

“I guess that’s why he couldn’t stick around.”

“Yes, well angels don’t get to stay down here unless they're banished.”

“So he’s up there somewhere?” Aleigh asked gesturing towards the stars.

“Well, I don’t think there’s anything ‘up there’ really except a bunch of space. But metaphorically speaking yes, he’s um… out there somewhere. He might even be able to see you now… might have even watched you grow up.”

Aleigh snorted, laughing a bit. “God, I hope not. I think he’d be sorely disappointed.”

“Right now maybe,” Sean laughed. “Sitting around drinking with me might disappoint any father.”

They chuckled together at Sean’s self deprecating remark and refilled their glasses.

“My ass is getting sore,” Aleigh said.

They sat balancing their weight on a large piece of drift wood that had washed up on shore long ago from some forgotten place.

“Wait here,” Sean said handing Aleigh his glass and headed towards the house.

Moments later he returned with a blanket under his arm. He spread it out on top of the small patch of sand near the edge of the water. When he was done he grabbed his glass from Aleigh and took a seat on the blanket. Aleigh followed, easing down onto the ground with an unsteady huff. So much for not getting drunk.

“Ah, that’s better,” she said.

Sean smiled at her and leaned back in the sand. His gaze fixed on the constellations spiraling by the billions above them.

“There’s Cassiopia,” Sean said.

“And the Big Dipper,” Aleigh said.

“Um… there’s Venus.”

“And the North Star.”

“Okay, I’m done. I don’t know any more.”

Aleigh laughed. “Well, there’s Orion and the Seven Sisters.” She pointed to places in the sky leaning towards him so that he could follow her finger. Their faces were only inches apart. Aleigh could smell his skin. It was a smell she was quickly becoming accustomed to.

“I only see six sisters,” he said.

“The seventh one is hiding,” Aleigh replied, shifting towards him on her elbow and downing more wine before continuing. “Her name was Merope. She was a Greek goddess who was so shamed after loving a mortal that she vowed to hide her face for eternity.”

Sean held another of his common silences, letting his thoughts wander into Aleigh’s story. “That’s sad. It’s not right to feel ashamed of love.”

“No, it isn’t,” Aleigh said, leaning in closer to him and letter her mouth become so close to his that she could feel his breath on her face. The wine had made its way to her head and she was past the point of playing hard to get. Oh, who was she kidding? She was the easiest woman she knew.

Sean gently grabbed her upper arms and sat up, holding her at arms length. He decided not to reject her again and hoped simply changing the subject wouldn’t be too transparent.

“I’m hungry. Are you hungry?” Sean didn’t give her a chance to respond. “Let’s go in and get a bite.”

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

So It's Been About a Month

How are all of you? I don't have much to post here right now, but I thought those of you who read Panthea deserved a little explanation.

Lately my attention has been very home centered. I haven't given my brain over to thinking about anything relating to my spirituality or the Goddess lately. This is all due to some dramatic events that went on in my life that I am still trying to get through.

I apologize to my readers and I will try hard to mentally recover soon so that normal-ness can resume here at Panthea. I am not gone, just on a little break. I guess you could say that I am not capable of finding a happy medium just yet. I tend to give my all to something and right now my focus needs to be with my husband and my daughter.

Thanks to all of you that still swing by every now and again and leave a comment for me. I read them and appreciate them.

Much Love, Grian

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Polycystic Ovaries

On Thursday evening I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. I had hoped to have a second child in the very near future but according to my doctor - and I quote "Your first child is a miracle. Women with this have a very difficult time conceiving."

So, it looks like it will much harder than I imagined. On the upside, my kid is a miralce. But I already knew that.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is related in some ways to diabetes. From what I understand raised sugar levels cause eggs to never fully mature or drop. Instead they turn into little cysts.

Symptoms of this syndrome could be excelerated hair growth in places like the chin, chest, and back, thinning hair in older women, excess weight around the middle. depression, mood swings, and fatigue.

So, I've actually learned a lot about my body and gained some reasons as to why I've had depression in the past. I feel like I've tackled the emotional issues of depression, now I just get the occassional general malaise.

Anyway... google polycystic ovarian syndrome for more info. It only seems to affect 5-10% of the female population, but if you have trouble conceiving it is something to consider. An ultrasound seems to be the only way to know for sure.

I have lots of hope that I can still be pregnant by the end of the year, but I also accept that what is meant to be will be.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Shadow Mutterings

Just like anyone else I am full of flaws and don't always have the nicest of thoughts running through my head - though I try really hard most of the time. I try not to judge, I try to be compassionate, etc. Sometimes though, you just need to let your shadow come out to play.

For example: The other day I was sitting in my morning class (as a returning college student) and thinking about how I didn't want to be there. My exact thoughts were something like "I'd rather be home watching Entourage but instead I am stuck sitting in a room full of f-in teenage idiots who should write books on how to grunt unintelligibly and still look cool." I then proceeded to think dirty thoughts about my professor. *wink*

Not a very nice thing to think right? But, let's not pretend we haven't all had those moments.

Ever go to a grocery story and get mad at the automatic door for not opening quickly enough? Me too. Ever call someone a really terrible (but creative) combination of expletives while driving? Yeah... I've done that one too and laughed about it two seconds later. Come on. Ass-hat is kind of funny, but that's one of the nicest things I've said in comparison

Being a Priest/ess or being spiritual doesn't mean being some perfect, saint-like person. And I'll be damned if I'm even going to consider something resembling repentance.

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