Coming Back to Mountain Mother

By Jeanne F. Neath

Mountain Mother, I hear you calling me.
Mountain Mother, we hear your cry.
Mountain Mother, we have come back to you.
Mountain Mother, we hear your sigh.

Lyrics by Carol P. Christ [1], Sung to tune of “Ancient Mother” (origin unknown)

Mountain Mother vessel

What do a bunch of feminist women do while riding a tour bus around the Mediterranean island of Crete? If they are on the Goddess Pilgrimage started by Carol Christ over 20 years ago, they sing songs honoring the Goddess. The song that drew me most from the first time I heard it on the fall 2022 Goddess Pilgrimage was “Mountain Mother.” Not surprising since the rocky, sparsely vegetated, yet hauntingly beautiful mountains of Crete surrounded us much of the time as our trusty bus wound its way up and down and around the island. The Pilgrimage leaders regularly pointed out double mountain peaks, suggestive of women’s breasts and therefore sacred to the ancient matriarchal peoples of Crete.

We were traveling to experience various sites sacred to the ancient Minoan culture, a matriarchal civilization that thrived on Crete from 3000 BCE to 1450 BCE when Mycenaeans from the Greek mainland invaded. We trekked through the stone ruins of large sacred centers such as Knossos and Phaistos (called “palaces” by patriarchally-inclined archaeologists) and climbed up to mountain peaks and caves that were once ritual sites of the Minoan people. We swam and lazed on sandy and stony beaches on the Cretan and Libyan seas where Minoan ships once sailed on trading missions to nearby Africa, Asia and Europe. We even visited Christian churches now standing on the same grounds that once drew the Minoan people to celebrate the Goddess.

Our two and a half weeks on Crete were enlightening, at times awe-inspiring and, perhaps most of all, challenging for two 70+ year old women. Paula dislocated and broke her left shoulder on the first day of the Pilgrimage and continued on the tour anyway with her arm in a sling. I became both personal attendant and pilgrim. I climbed up rough paths to sacred mountain peaks and caves. Near the top of Mt. Juktas, the peak sanctuary of ritual importance to the ancient Minoan pilgrims of Knossos, I braved a wild wind that was so powerful and so erratic I had to deeply concentrate on every step I took to stay in control of where my foot would land. The trail we were following was a little too close to the mountain’s edge for my comfort in these conditions. At the Libyan Sea on the south coast of the island overwhelming waves knocked me off my feet repeatedly as I attempted and finally succeeded in moving from the shallows into deeper waters.

Juktas peak sanctuary

Despite all this, I’ve encountered what is perhaps my biggest challenge now that I am home again, here in the Ozarks.

I have left the mountains of Crete behind, almost certainly forever. Going on pilgrimage to Crete was the only time I have ever flown overseas and, for many reasons, I doubt I will ever fly anywhere again. Yet, the “Mountain Mother” song is staying with me, playing over and over again in my head. I am even singing it out loud to myself, despite the fact that I am one of those people who can’t ever stick to the tune.

The mountains here in the Ozarks are very different than the ones in Crete – not so high and ours are covered by an oak hickory forest. When we got home from Crete after over 24 hours of listening to jet engines and sitting in airports, I was immensely relieved to be back in ‘our’ verdant mountains, with all the familiar sights and sounds. I couldn’t help but hear and feel these Ozark mountains calling me: “Mountain Mother, I hear you calling me.” I had in no way left the Goddess of the Minoans behind me.


I couldn’t help but hear and feel these Ozark mountains calling me: “Mountain Mother, I hear you calling me.” I had in no way left the Goddess of the Minoans behind me.


Carol P. Christ, the now deceased author of the “Mountain Mother” lyrics and the founder of the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete, wrote in the preface to her book, Rebirth of the Goddess:

“…the Goddess is the power of intelligent embodied love that is the ground of all being. The earth is the body of the Goddess.” (p. xv)

If the earth is the body of the Goddess – and I like thinking of both the Goddess and the Earth this way – then what does it mean to be promising, “Mountain Mother, we have come back to you.”? Is this just a spiritual commitment that entails embracing the Goddess or another Earth-connected spirituality? Or are we talking about material reality – coming back to the Earth herself – too?

The obvious answer to these questions from the perspective of any Earth-based spirituality is both. The very idea of a dichotomy (dualism) between spirit and nature originates in the patriarchal worldview of the Western world. As Carol Christ explained:

“…neither the history nor the contemporary meaning of the Goddess can be understood unless we develop holistic modes of thinking, abandoning the categorical distinctions between ‘God’, ‘man’, and ‘the world’ and transforming the classical dualisms of spirit and nature, mind and body, rational and irrational, male and female, that have structured the worldview we know as western thought.” (p. xiv, Rebirth of the Goddess)

According to C. Christ the spiritual understandings of a culture – its mythos or “culturally shared system of symbols and rituals that defines what is real and valuable” – are deeply connected to the way of life of that culture – its ethos. She explains:

“A mythos supports an ethos, telling us that certain ways of living and acting are appropriate because they put us in touch with what is real and valuable” (p. 160, Rebirth of the Goddess)

And,

“Conversely, the living of an ethos reinforces the sense that the mythos to which it is connected is true” (p. 160, Rebirth of the Goddess)

When I sing “Mountain Mother, we have come back to you” I am embracing the symbols and rituals, feelings and understandings of a Goddess/Earth-centered spirituality, but at the same time I am reaching for an altered way of living that brings me and others back to the Earth, “Mountain Mother”, in very real physical ways.

Our mountains in the Ozarks

Here is that “biggest challenge” I mentioned earlier. I’ve spent most of a lifetime working to change my own ways of living and the way of life promoted and enforced by the capitalist, colonizing patriarchy that is dominating the Earth. Yet, can I truthfully say to Mountain Mother that I have come back to her? That I have already come back to her?


Can I truthfully say to Mountain Mother that I have come back to her? That I have already come back to her?


Paula and I watched one of the recent online Maternal Gift Economy salons and I was delighted when some of the speakers brought up the need to “exit the market” economy and live within the gift (and, I would say also, subsistence) economy. As things stand now in the dominant society, many, many people have been made dependent on the market economy for their basic physical needs. Corporate influences largely determine people’s “wants”, as well.

A key part of the needed transformation of society is to end the dependency on the market by returning to a gift (and subsistence) relationship with the Earth where our human gifts to the Earth would include great care for Her, great care of Her. If we want to come back to Mountain Mother, then receiving our sustenance directly from the gifts of the land and waters we live on is of primary importance, as is the physical care we give to the land and waters that are our home. Our own roots to the land can become deep like the trees living with us on Mountain Mother.

Of course, we don’t have to do all this alone. Other women (and men) are returning to Mountain Mother too and coming to live and work, at least in part, outside the market economy. We strengthen our women’s (and other) communities as each member uses the gifts from the Earth to create more gifts (e.g. making jam from native huckleberries) that then circulate within our communities.


A key part of the needed transformation of society is to end the dependency on the market by returning to a gift (and subsistence) relationship with the Earth where our human gifts to the Earth would include great care for Her, great care of Her.


I hope you aren’t finding talk of the gift/subsistence economy intimidating. Everyone on earth already participates in that economy! We are born into it and rely on it every day. When our mothers give birth to us, they are not paid to do this. Instead they are giving us the gift of life. When we cook dinner for friends or family members or they cook dinner for us we are participating in the gift/subsistence economy.

Almost everyone on earth also participates, to greater or lesser extent, in the market economy. The key here is making the shift away from the the market economy and further into the gift/subsistence economy (until the market economy is ended altogether). Those in the global North who may be deeply trapped in the market economy can perhaps learn from the Indigenous peoples and others in the global South whose original gift/subsistence-based ways of living often survived colonization, at least to some extent.

I will keep singing to Mountain Mother and telling her that “we have come back to you,” because we must come back to her and many of us are trying to come back. The tension I feel from singing what is not yet fully true for me, not yet true for many others keeps me motivated in the work I do for Earth and all of us, her diversity of creatures (including the human ones). The challenge of creating a way of life that is good for us and good for the Earth is one that I choose. What could be more satisfying (and fun) for any of us than getting to know Mountain Mother really well and dumping capitalist colonizing patriarchy at the same time we transform our lives and our communities!

Mountain Mother, I hear you calling me.
Mountain Mother, we hear your cry.
Mountain Mother, we have come back to you.
Mountain Mother, we hear your sigh.

Notes

1. The lyrics given here are adapted by me from two different versions, one on page 128 of Carol Christ’s book The Serpentine Path and the other from the song sheet handed out on the fall 2022 Goddess Pilgrimage.

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The War on Women is Real … and Multi-Faceted!


This Newsweek cover declared “Women in Revolt”. We were!

We, at the Kansas City Women’s Liberation Union (KCWLU), celebrated the supreme court’s 1973 court case, Roe v. Wade, the day it happened! The court held that women in the United States had a fundamental right to choose whether to have abortions without excessive government restriction and struck down a Texas’s abortion ban as unconstitutional.

At that time my feminist friends and I believed we were heading towards the full inclusion of women’s rights even though we lived in this patriarchal society. As a result of this 7-2 court decision we were jubilant and full of youthful optimism.

I was 28 and working for TWA as a flight attendant. I was actively involved in my flight attendant union. MS. Magazine was an important news source in my life. The KCWLU had become central to my life, and those women were central to my “coming out” as a lesbian.

Women all over the world were challenging males and male domination of our lives. Men, and the women who allied themselves with men, were unprepared for our rebellion.

What has happened in the last fifty years to overturn this assurance of a woman’s right to control her body and her life choices? No simple answer to this question exists. However, in my exploration of possible answers, I listened to this NPR interview on Fresh Air, finding it to be quite helpful.

Yesterday, June 23, 2022, Terry Gross interviewed law professor Mary Ziegler. Her newest book about the abortion struggles is Dollars for Life. In the interview Ziegler details how the anti-abortion movement helped push the courts to the right, and upended the GOP establishment. It’s quite a story!

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5ucHIub3JnLzM4MTQ0NDkwOC9wb2RjYXN0LnhtbA/episode/MmIzMjY2MjQtZDEzOC00NzY3LTk1ZGQtZWRmNTM1NGYyN2Jj?sa=X&ved=0CAUQkfYCahcKEwiAwM-u78b4AhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQIw&hl=en

Discussion in that interview included examples of how the radical right leaders carefully used abortion for their own ends. The growth of right wing radio and cable TV networks became a useful vehicle for confrontation and inflammatory rhetoric. Ziegler also explains how the court case of twelve years ago, Citizens United, deregulated campaign financing allowing big donors to dominate the outcomes of elections in the U.S. Here’s more about that court case.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is a controversial decision that reversed century-old campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections. (emphasis mine)

While wealthy donors, corpor­a­tions, and special interest groups have long had an outsized influ­ence in elec­tions, that sway has dramat­ic­ally expan­ded since the Citizens United decision, with negat­ive reper­cus­sions for Amer­ican demo­cracy and the fight against polit­ical corrup­tion.”
from https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/citizens-united-explained

I’m now 76. I’m still learning and strategizing. We are still “Women in Revolt”. It’s hard to know what we can do to make a difference. However, learning how we got to this place is one effort I’m making–this interview helped me see the “bigger picture”.

I hope you will listen to the interview with law professor Mary Ziegler. I expect it will bring up questions and observations from your own life experience. Let’s keep talking, reading, writing, and making trouble for those who deny our humanity.

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Intergenerational Lesbians: How Can We Learn from Each Other?

By Jenna Weston

The feminist poet Muriel Rukeyser famously wrote, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?/ The world would split open.” What if a dozen women told their truth to each other? A hundred, a thousand, a million? We did just that in the late 1960s and the 1970s. It was called Women’s Consciousness Raising, and it was a powerful method of shaping radical feminist awareness and political action, as well as building a female cultural alternative to the patriarchy.

In these present turbulent times– with judgement, canceling, and factional opposition all in ascendency– I believe the tool of consciousness raising could offer a way for lesbians of different generations to communicate with each other and find common ground.

Second-wave consciousness raising groups were so effective because they were a balance of the personal and the political. They were not study groups or therapy sessions. They were a way of communicating that was designed to honor each woman’s experience– without interruption, argument or debate. We spoke in the concrete, not the abstract about our individual lives. Then together, we drew insights and conclusions from the common patterns that emerged.

We met weekly, usually with no more than a dozen women. Keeping the groups small nurtured the intimacy and trust needed to open one’s self up to the most vulnerable truths of our personal experiences. It also allowed us ample time to fully share, widely explore, and deeply listen.

I was in my 20s when I joined a women’s CR group, as they were called. I was married to a man but knew somehow I was not living authentically. In hearing the stories of other women’s lives I realized I was not alone, and, over time, this validation gave me the courage to radically change my life. I came out as a lesbian, and became an activist. I also learned that other women could be smart, fierce and passionate—not something I experienced from most of the closed, conservative, gender-role following females I’d grown up around.

Especially in the beginning sessions of our CR groups we expressed a lot of anger about the misogyny and domination we had been subjected to. Many of us had suppressed it for years, for fear of retaliation. In the group we could freely name our oppressions and oppressors. We soon came to value our rebelliousness and were amazed at how words came pouring out, given a supportive environment. We appreciated each other for how honest and brave we were. We came to realize we were no longer interested in procuring “a piece of the pie” or being accepted into mainstream society– things the first wave feminists had fought for. We declared that the whole pie was rotten, and we needed to walk away and come up with a completely new recipe.

Sitting together in circles – usually on the floor of someone’s living room – we strip-searched our souls, digging down deep into previously hidden sources of our own women’s knowledge. We identified and repudiated the agents and symbols of our oppression. By throwing off burdens we had been carrying that weren’t ours, we opened a space for a Woman’s Way of Knowing to enter. From that we built a uniquely women’s culture of books, music, festivals, lands, spirituality and politics. It was intersectional, although we didn’t call it that back then, as we came to see and address how all patriarchal dominator hierarchies were connected, systemic and structural.

For a long time our structures and accomplishments went almost unnoticed by the mainstream we had withdrawn much of our energy from. But then the beauty of our creations began to be seen—and coveted. We could not be allowed to live lives that did not revolve around men. A backlash rose up, and it still continues. All lesbians– of every generation– are living under that backlash now.

I believe this is the perfect time for us to come together again in CR groups and share with each other the truths of our lives. Young and old, telling each other what it is like to be a woman, a lesbian, in these harsh times. Inventing and re-inventing our 21st-century selves together, not following some externally-imposed theories. Replacing dogma with discovery– arrived at mutually. Through the process of each woman sharing in turn her own experiences and observations, we can learn so much from each other. We don’t have to be isolated, or depend on outside sources like the media to tell us how to think, what to believe. Our principles and truths can evolve holistically, from our combined parts, and infuse our new coalition of multiple generations with lesbian empowerment.

Note: Jenna Weston’s article was published originally in Rain and Thunder: A Radical Feminist Journal of Discussion and Activism, Issue #77, Spring/Summer 2021.

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Hearings on Equality Act: Call Senators Now!

By Jeanne Neath

According to the Coalition for the Feminist Amendments, hearings in the Senate about the Equality Act ( H.R. 5) are happening on Wednesday this week (March 17th). The Coalition for the Feminist Amendments asks that we call members of the Judiciary committee, especially Senator Tillis (NC), and ask that the Senate allow representatives from the Coalition for the Feminist Amendments and the LGB Alliance to testify at the hearings. You can reach Senator Tillis at 202-224-6342. See my recent blog for background information about the Equality Act.

Here’s a short message I came up with for my phone call to Senator Tillis based on information the Coalition for the Feminist Amendments sent me. You are welcome to use it or modify it as you wish.

“I do NOT support H.R. 5, the Equality Act, as currently written. At the Senate Judiciary Hearing please call for representatives from the Coalition for the Feminist Amendments and the LGB Alliance to speak as witnesses, including M. Lynette Hartsell. and Dr. Callie Burt. The Equality Act must be amended and M. Lynette Hartsell and Dr. Callie Burt will provide substantial information for the Committee and Congress on the fatal flaws that exist in the current bill. The bill as it currently exists is harmful to women, to Lesbians and to gay men. I am a Lesbian myself and I oppose H.R. 5, the Equality Act, as currently written. Please make sure that this bill is amended. Thank you!”

You can find contact information for U.S. Senators at this address: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm. You can email Senator Tillis at: https://www.tillis.senate.gov/email-me

Here is a letter written by M. Lynette Hartsell that the LGB Alliance is providing for anyone to modify and then send to Senator Tillis (and other members of the Judiciary Committee):

“Sen. Tillis, I am writing concerning H.R.5 pending in the Judiciary Committee set for a hearing on Wednesday. I am requesting that the Committee call by remote means the following witnesses: Dr. Callie Burt and M. Lynette Hartsell. We oppose the act as written and ask that you propose the suggested amendments. We can provide substantial information for the Committee and Congress regarding the fatal flaws within the bill. Dr. Burt is an Associate Professor at Georgia State University who has written extensively regarding the Equality Act. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341804412_Scrutinizing_the_US_Equality_Act_2019_A_Feminist_Examination_of_Definitional_Changes_Sociolegal_Ramifications and https://callieburt.substack.com/p/the-inequality-of-the-equality-act?r=h1zw9&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy. I am a retired attorney in North Carolina and a spokesperson for LGB Alliance USA which is part of an international LGB organization. Dr. Burt and I are also part of CoFA (Coalition for Feminist Amendments). You should have received our letter regarding the Feminist Amendment to The Equality Act several months ago. https://feministstruggle.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/FeministAmendments.EqualityAct-FINAL12.14.19.pdf I’m certain that Sen. Tillis would join us in our desire to pass a well-written bill that protects the rights of all citizens. Please review the documents cited in this message and call M. Lynette Hartsell and Dr. Callie Burt as witnesses for the hearing Wednesday. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.”

Why doesn't the proposed Equality Act Protect Women and Girls?

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Stop Passage of the Flawed U.S. Equality Act: Amend!

The struggle of gender critical feminists to stop the passage of the Equality Act – and amend the Equality Act – now moves to the U.S. Senate. Last Thursday the House of Representatives passed the U.S. Equality Act with a 224-226 vote. Three Republicans voted in favor of the bill. If ever there was a time for everyone concerned with the rights and well being of women to get engaged with the U.S. political system, this is it!

I’ll explain what is at the root of the problems with the Equality Act below and provide an introduction to the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act developed by Feminists In Struggle (FIST) . But, first, here are two actions you can take right now!

Reach Out to Let Women in Your Community Know About What’s at Stake

XX Amazons has developed a flyer that can be used for outreach to women all over the country to alert them to what is happening in Congress right now. Please print out copies of the flyer (shown below) and put these flyers up anywhere you can think of. Even during the pandemic, women everywhere are still going to grocery stores!

Why doesn't the proposed Equality Act protect women and girls?

Spread the Word on Social Media

Here’s a graphic that you can copy and use in creating a Facebook or other social media post to spread the word even further.

Why doesn't the proposed Equality Act Protect Women and Girls?

Write your Senators

The Coalition for the Feminist Amendments (CoFA) has prepared a sample letter that you can personalize and email to your Senators. View and copy the sample letter here. Calling your Senators can be especially effective. You can find your Senators’ phone numbers and other contact information using a simple look-up form.

XX Amazons is part of the Coalition for the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act. See the information below or on FIST’s website to find out more about the Feminist Amendments.

The Crux of the Problem with the Equality Act

The crux of the problem is that the Equality Act enshrines the concept of “gender identity” into U.S. law. Males base their claim that they are women on this concept which was invented by medical professionals in the 1950s and 1960s (Jeffreys) and latched onto by the transgender movement. Using “gender identity” males are able to say they “feel like” women and, with the Equality Act, the recent executive orders issued by Joe Biden and local legislation, PRESTO, their feelings are turned into what we are supposed to believe is reality.

As Tina Minkowitz, one of the authors of the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act, has explained, with the Equality Act our legal existence as women is at stake! Here’s how this works. The Senate bill explicitly defines sex to include gender identity, saying that each of three factors – sex, sexual orientation, gender identity – is a form of sex discrimination. Here is where women are erased! Gender identity is made synonymous with sex. Discrimination on the basis of gender identity is considered to be sex discrimination.

Thus, the Equality Act makes it illegal to deny males who say they are women access to what have always been female only facilities. The Senate’s Equality Act explicitly states that there can be no female only private personal spaces: “[A]n individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.”

Giving any male who wants to the right to claim to be a woman has far reaching circumstances that goes far beyond his entry into female spaces, as is documented throughout the XX Amazons website.

Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act

FIST’s Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act protects women, LGB, and transgender people by cleverly creating two new protected classes – sexual orientation and sex stereotypes – while leaving existing protections for sex in place. Each of the three classes are given clear and uncomplicated protection. The Feminist Amendments eliminate all mention of gender identity, providing protection to transgender people on the basis of sex stereotypes. By focusing on sex stereotypes, gender non-conforming people who are not transgender, including Lesbians and gay men, are also protected when they do not comply with sex role norms (demands).

The Feminist Amendments explicitly protects female only spaces from intrusion by males claiming to be women including “multi-stall toilets, locker rooms, changing rooms, communal showers, battered women’s shelters, refuges, homeless shelters, rape crisis centers, jail cells, bedrooms in residential facilities, hospital rooms, facilities providing intimate services such as massage or intimate grooming, or other places where women are sharing private facilities or are in states of undress and/or where their privacy may be compromised and or their safety may be at risk from male-pattern violence against females.” (p. 17, Feminist Amendments Equality Act) Sports programs, scholarship programs, clubs, political programs are likewise protected.

For more information on the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act, please see:
https://xxamazons.org/feminist-amendments-equality-act/

https://feministstruggle.org/2019/10/19/feminists-in-struggle-fist-launches-campaign-for-feminist-amendments-to-the-equality-act/

Time is Short – Act Now!

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“All Beginnings are Dark! Womb Dark!

Our ancient sacred symbols surround us every day…

“… the Old European sacred images and symbols were never totally uprooted; these most persistent features in human history were too deeply implanted in the human psyche. They could have disappeared only with the total extermination of the female population.” This assertion is from Marija Gimbutas in her book The Language of the Goddess.1

Our ancient sacred symbols surround us every day…
All beginnings are dark! Womb dark. Life begins in a woman’s body. “For just as the child is conceived in the womb and there takes shape, so time begins in darkness, when the leaf gives up the ghost and the seed dreams in the ground and each night is longer than the last. All beginnings are dark. The world was without form and void and darkness brooded over the deep.”2

I now believe my own deep, dark motherline extends back thousands of years into the extensive cultures of Old Europe and Old Anatolia. My roots on the North American continent are relatively shallow. My female ancestors lived on the group of islands now known as the British Isles. My bloodline, as is your bloodline, is ancient.

Some women, like me, have been disconnected from our ancestral roots. We are seeking a spiritual tradition and lineage directly connected to our ancestral birth line. I have reason to believe that my own bloodline reaches back to this world described by archeologist and anthropologist Marija Gimbutas.

“The woman’s body was regarded as parthenogenetic, that is creating life out of itself. This ability was celebrated in religion. In Neolithic times and earlier in the Upper Paleolithic, religion centered on the feminine power, as shown by the abundance of female symbolism. Just as the female body was regarded as the goddess creatress, so too the world was regarded as the body of the goddess, constantly creating new life from itself. The imagery of Neolithic art is overwhelmingly feminine: the female body, and particularly the generative parts–vulva, uterus, or womb—are predominant. These symbols appear not only on figurines or larger sculptures of goddesses, but also on vases, cult equipment, and in tomb and temple architecture.

The goddess is nature and earth itself, pulsating with the seasons, bringing life in spring and death in winter. She represents continuity of life as a perpetual regenerator, protectress, and nourisher.”3

Our lives are guided by the symbols we hold dear whether we acknowledge this fact or not. As Z Budapest, witch, tarot card reader, hereditary priestess, and one of my early teachers declared, “Religion controls inner space; inner space controls outer space.” Patriarchal religion and the other patriarchal institutions seek control of all the symbols we build our lives around from designer labels to business logos, from academic credentials to sports team loyalties.

Please consider the possibility of reclaiming the term religion from the patriarchal versions we know all too well! Margot Adler reminds us in her 1979 book Drawing Down the Moon, the root of the word religion “means ‘to relink’ and ‘to connect’, and therefore refers to any philosophy that makes deep connections between human beings and the universe.”4

Claiming the ancient goddess religion as my own
As a consequence of my deep engagement with the women’s liberation movement, which I embraced in the early 1970s, I became a woman seeking an authentic spiritual tradition connected to my own ancestral birth line. How to start such an enormous undertaking? One inspiration came during the 1978 keynote address by Carol Christ at the Great Goddess Re-emerging Conference, Santa Cruz, CA. This astute observation from Carol struck me, “Symbol systems cannot simply be rejected; they must be replaced. Where there is no replacement, the mind will revert to familiar structures at times of crisis, defeat or bafflement.”

I’d already begun my own self-education learning to love women and to reclaim the history of women’s resistance erased by the institutions of patriarchy. The clarity of these directions and the warning that our minds “will revert to familiar structures at times of crisis, defeat or bafflement” has echoed in my consciousness for decades!

I find it interesting how our intuitive selves are drawn to symbols before our “knowing” mind catches up. When I look around my decorated house today I see multiple depictions of reindeer, both large and small. In late December, I happened upon Judith Shaw’s article about the reindeer goddess of Northern Europe where my paternal line originated in Denmark. Shaw wrote, “The Reindeer was a sacred animal to our ancient ancestors of Northern Europe. The doe was seen as the giver of light and life. Their horns were associated with the tree of life and often times they were depicted carrying the sun, the giver of life, in their horns.”5

One of my favorite parts of the article: “Reindeer are the only members of the deer family whose females have horns and are stronger and larger than the males. The males shed their antlers in winter, leaving it to the Deer Mother to fly through the long, dark night of Winter Solstice. The Reindeer was a sacred animal to our ancient ancestors of Northern Europe.”6 Please visit here for more discussion.

We are now a week past the winter solstice. That longest night of the year births the short days of midwinter (at least in the northern hemisphere). Life begins in the dark interior of a woman’s body. The vulva, our external genitalia, is seen “as the concentrated life-producing part of the Goddess in her birth-giving functions”. This symbol of the Mother Goddess is encountered by archaeologists on rocks around the globe including an engraving on a one-and-a-half ton limestone rock at Abri Castanent, a collapsed rock shelter in France dating to about 37,000 years ago (reported in Archeology Magazine January, 2013).

Respect for women and respect for the earth cannot be separated. Vulva, uterus, womb are the essential source of human life. Pornographic representations of women and our genitalia deny this basic reality. Disregard for our interconnections, the web of life on planet earth, is yet another pornographic lie.

Other women, and people living in other cultures, especially native cultures and indigenous cultures, have not been disconnected from their ancestral roots and ancient homelands allowing them to claim their spiritual traditions and their understandings about the central place of women in “the processes and patterns of continuous creation”. I value and respect the knowledge these indigenous women are willing to share. I can glimpse my own past in their present. Katsi Cook shares her vision as a midwife.7

“In my vision as a Mohawk midwife, reproductive justice and environmental justice intersect at the nexus of women’s blood and voice; at the very centrality of woman’s role in the processes and patterns of continuous creation. Of the sacred things that there are to be said about this, woman is the first environment; she is an original instruction. In pregnancy, our bodies sustain life. Our unborn see through our eyes and hear through our ears. Everything the mother feels, the baby feels, too. At the breast of women, the generations are nourished. From the bodies of women flow the relationships of those generations, both to society and to the natural world. In this way our ancestors said, the earth is our mother. In this way, we as women are the earth.”7

“…we as women are the earth.” Those ancient cave drawings found in different areas of old Europe and Old Anatolia and around the world appear to be expressing the same understanding. A community of women and their clan gathered to press their hands along the rocks of mother earth. This simple, yet complex, understanding existed in our ancient ancestors who learned to honor and cooperate with mother earth. ‘Woman is earth’ is deeply implanted in the human psyche both yours and mine.

Notes
1 The Language of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe 1989 p.318
2 The Return of the Goddess: A Divine Comedy, a novel by Elizabeth Cunningham, 1992 p.19
3 The Living Goddesses, Maria Gimbutas 1999 p.112-113
4 Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today, Beacon Press 1979 p. 12
5 https://feminismandreligion.com/2016/12/18/the-reindeer-goddess-by-judith-shaw/
6 https://feminismandreligion.com/2016/12/18/the-reindeer-goddess-by-judith-shaw/
7 Quote from Katsi Cook “Powerful Like a River: Reweaving the Web of Our Lives in Defense of Environmental and Reproductive Justice” essay in Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future, 2008 ed Melissa K. Nelson p.155-156
8 https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ancient-women-artists-may-be-responsible-for-most-cave-art-1094929/

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The Transgender Movement: Unfit for an Ecological Future

By Jeanne Neath

When non-essential surgeries including ‘gender reassignment surgery’ became difficult to obtain during the COVID-19 pandemic, many ‘transgender’ people became distressed. As NBC News reported, 31 year old Katalina Murrie, a Canadian ‘transgender’ male, had scheduled a facial feminization procedure “to soften one’s facial features and bone structure” with a surgeon in Guadalajara, Mexico for March 27th 2020. Even pre-COVID-19, the Canadian health system considered this cosmetic surgery non-essential and would not pay for it. With the pandemic, international travel no longer felt like an option to Murrie. Distraught at having to miss his surgery, Murrie told NBC News:

“What if all the borders closed around the world and I am stuck in a foreign country?” Murrie recalled asking herself. “My face would be covered in stitches. I’d have to travel through popular airports where there have been confirmed reports of staff members with COVID-19. My dream surgery all of a sudden became very stressful.” (NBC News, “Trans surgeries postponed indefinitely amid coronavirus pandemic“)

Murrie considered the facial feminization procedure anything but “non-essential” and groused about his situation, saying “I’m not gonna last to my 40s if I don’t have this surgery.”

facial feminization in Guadalajara Mexico

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced hospitals facing an overload of patients and procedures to prioritize what kinds of care they will provide. Cosmetic surgeries done on the healthy bodies of ‘transgender’ people became clearly inappropriate, impossible to perform in the face of an overload of sick and dying patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic, a result of human-caused ecological disturbances, is providing a preview into an unfolding ecological society. With the overconsumption in the global North the Earth is being pushed to her limits and she is forcing society onto a budget. As a result, ‘gender reassignment’ medical treatments, including surgeries, puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones are likely to become socially unacceptable, even impossible for society to provide as we shift into ecological sanity. Neither the Earth nor society can afford for queer ideology and the Internet driven transgender fad to continue pushing so many young people into a life of medical complications and dependency on medical services.

Insatiable Desires

When Katalina Murrie told NBC News “I’m not gonna last to my 40s if I don’t have this surgery”, he provided a clue to the mental state of many in the transgender movement. ‘Transgender’ people have placed themselves in the very unsettling situation of building a movement and individual identities based in a lie and a theft. The lie, of course, is that sex can be changed. The theft takes place when ‘transgender’ males assume the identity of an oppressed group – women. Since ‘transgender’ people cannot change their sex, all the surgeries and hormones in the world will never give them what they want, will never allow them to feel satisfied with their bodies or secure in their identities.

The impossible goals and insatiable desires of ‘transgender’ people remind me of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s discussion of the Windigo in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass.[1] A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer explains that the Windigo is the “legendary monster” of the Anishinaabe people of the north woods of North America, a human being whose inability to cope with winter’s starvation time drives them into cannibalism. In Kimmerer’s word:

“It is said that the Windigo will never enter the spirit world but will suffer the eternal pain of need, its essence a hunger that will never be sated. The more a Windigo eats, the more ravenous it becomes… its mind a torture of unmet wants.”[2]

Mimi and Eunice cartoon

Of course, the vast majority of ‘transgender’ people are in no way monsters or legendary, but Kimmerer’s description of the “mind a torture of unmet wants” seems to fit. Kimmerer uses the story of the Windigo as a powerful means of critiquing the unrestrained consumption of so many in the dominant society and their complicity in the destruction of the natural world.

“The fear for me is far greater than just acknowledging the Windigo within. The fear for me is that the world has been turned inside out, the dark side made to seem light. Indulgent self-interest that our people once held to be monstrous is now celebrated as success. We are asked to admire what our people viewed as unforgiveable. The consumption-driven mind-set masquerades as ‘quality of life’ but eats us from within. It is as if we’ve been invited to a feast, but the table is laid with food that nourishes only emptiness, the black hole of the stomach that never fills. We have unleashed a monster.”[3]

Insatiable desire “eats us from within” and leads to a person who can’t stop taking, attempting somehow to sate the desire. Like the rest of consumer society, ‘transgender’ people, who want to be what they can never be, indulge in a frenzy of taking – usurping women’s identity, pirating women’s and Lesbian spaces, snatching symbols from Lesbian-feminist culture, insisting on medical services for non-essential needs, taking Earth’s “resources” used in providing those non-essential medical services.


Like the rest of consumer society, ‘transgender’ people, who want to be what they can never be, indulge in a frenzy of taking – usurping women’s identity, pirating women’s and Lesbian spaces, snatching symbols from Lesbian-feminist culture, insisting on medical services for non-essential needs, taking Earth’s “resources” used in providing those non-essential medical services.


What creates the insatiable desire that leads to all this taking? For ‘transgender’ people, an obvious cause is a patriarchal society that forces girls and boys, women and men into suffocating sex roles. In a society that tears apart and builds over nature, society’s sex roles can seem more real, more fixed than nature. Rather than work to change society’s deadly sex role prescriptions, most ‘transgender’ people have elected to deny and reject their own sexed bodies.

Our bodies, of course, are part of the natural world – part of our internal nature [4] – as are our minds, our emotions, our selves. Denial and rejection of the physical realities of one’s body is a sign of a deep and dangerous alienation from nature. The dominant society routinely creates people who are alienated from both internal and external nature and this alienation is another root of the transgender phenomenon.

So-called sex reassignment clinics in Thailand

Western Civilization Creates the Alienated Self

What creates an alienated self? It is not just transgender people who are alienated from their bodies and from nature. The alienated self appeared in Western civilization at least as early as Homer’s era in ancient Greece when “a dominant warlike race established themselves over the mass of vanquished natives.” [5] To understand the creation of the alienated self, I want to turn to Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s 1945 book, Dialectic of Enlightenment. These two philosophers can be difficult to read, so Carolyn Merchant can serve as our interpreter in this section. Here’s Merchant on the central character in Homer’s The Odyssey:

“Odysseus represents the struggle to overcome the imitation of nature and immersion in the pleasures of animal life and tribal society. Through the emergence of his own identity as an individual self, he is able to break the hold of the mythic past and control his animal instincts, his men, his wife, and other women. He becomes alienated from his own emotions, bodily pleasures, other human beings and nature itself.”[6]

Where people in more peaceful societies experienced themselves as part of nature, imitated nature, and experienced nature as sacred, Merchant explained that “In the ancient world the emergence of a sense of self as distinct from the external natural world entailed a denial of internal nature in the human being.”[7]

The alienation of self increased dramatically during the European Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. At this time the elevation of mind, reason, prediction and control resulted in the “disenchantment of the world”[8] (and increasing domination of nature and humans with the expansion of patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism). The deeply felt perception that nature (and women) are sacred was further lost in the West.

Today most people living in cities rarely think of nature as the provider of all the physical materials they need to live – materials for shelter, water, energy, food, medicine. Many don’t know much about the natural world and don’t feel a spiritual connection to nature. Many live “in their heads” and feel deeply dissatisfied with their bodies.

‘Transgender’ people are not that different. But, they do take alienation to an extreme when they deny the physical reality of their sexed bodies. The alienation escalates even more when they take action against their own bodies by undergoing ‘gender reassignment’ treatments. This desecration of ‘internal nature’ leads to the desecration of external nature. As Merchant explained, “The disenchantment of external nature was achieved by despiritualizing a human being’s internal nature.”[9]

Pigs Can Fly? Growth is Green?

Pigs Can Fly? Growth is Green? Males Claim To Be Women? Technology Saves All?

The only strand of the environmental movement compatible with a trans-ideology that pushes ‘gender reassignment’ and medicalization is “ecomodernism” or, more broadly, “green growth.” Environmentalists subscribing to “green growth” philosophies are, like many ‘transgender’ people, stuck in fantasies about an impossible future where technology saves the day and overcomes biological, ecological and even thermodynamic limits. Both “green growth” and transgender ideologies are based in the anti-ecological and old-fashioned Enlightenment perspective that underlies “modernity” and the myth of progress.

Ecomodernists want the living standards of industrialized societies to continue rising and for high consumption lifestyles to spread into the global South. They believe, contrary to all evidence, that economic growth can be “decoupled” from environmental damage. What magic will they use to accomplish the impossible? New and improved technology, of course, with some population reduction and efficiency improvements tossed into the mix. All this “progress” would require an increase in energy production that could only be powered by nuclear energy. The authors of “An Ecomodernist Manifesto” explain:

“Transitioning to a world powered by zero-carbon energy sources require energy technologies that are power dense and capable of scaling to many tens of terawatts to power a growing human economy. Most forms of renewable energy are, unfortunately, incapable of doing so.… Nuclear fission today represents the only present-day zero-carbon technology with the demonstrated ability to meet most, if not all, of the energy demands of a modern economy….In the long run, next-generation solar, advanced nuclear fission, and nuclear fusion represent the most plausible pathways toward the joint goals of climate stabilization and radical decoupling of humans from nature.”[10]

Nuclear energy is a dangerous technological choice to hang your hat on. At least the surgeries and drugs that many transgender people depend on do not have the power to irradiate the Earth. These technologies can never be the “cure-all” that ecomodernists and transgenderists desire. They just avoid dealing with the real problems which are social.

Ecomodernism debunked

Most modern technology has grown out of systems of thought belonging to a patriarchal, colonialist, and capitalist system. These technologies must always be questioned. The transgender project is a crude early step on the techno-utopian[11] path that wants to create humans who are essentially different from the species nature created many millenia ago. For example, researchers are now using CRISPR technology for germline genetic engineering to create superhumans. Researchers studying artificial intelligence may soon have machines that are smarter than humans. All these technologies, including the ones used for ‘gender reassignment,’ would be carefully controlled or outlawed if this society were not based in domination and profiteering.

Ancient Connections

The ecologically unsound transgender project will not withstand the force of nature’s revolt. Already more and more girls and women who ‘transitioned’ are in revolt against the squelching of their female nature. They are detransitioning, re-identifying as female. Nature’s revolt is forcing a paradigm shift on the dominant society and the coming ecological society will not be able to afford the non-essential surgeries, unnecessary medical dependencies, insatiable desires and thefts from women, alienation from nature and use of questionable technologies for questionable purposes. An ecological society will have to be based in hard reality and this will not leave room for fantasies of becoming a different sex.

The way “forward” in these volatile times will include a spiraling “back” toward our species’ ancient connections with Earth and with our own nature. It isn’t hard to start forming these connections. Take a walk and let your feet feel the Earth with every slow step you take.[12] Find out how to use the different species of lichen and mosses to determine direction.[13] Learn what is going on outside your house by becoming familiar with what the birds are telling you. Then listen to the bird’s language every chance you get.[14] The changing Earth and the changing times are unsettling. But this part can be an adventure!

Carolina wren

*****

Footnotes

1. Please note that I am the one making the link between ‘transgender’ people and the Windigo. Robin Wall Kimmerer does not discuss this.
2. p. 305, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.
3. p. 308, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants.
4. As humans we are, of course, influenced by both our biology and our society in much of what we do and experience. I am using the concept of ‘internal nature’ here to include human biology, but also other aspects of our internal being. In a broad sense human society in all its many forms is part of nature. So-called ‘gender identity’ is a socially created self-perception derived from deep internalization of male or female sex roles and the belief that those socially-created sex roles are fixed, even biological. ‘Gender identity seems to be based in a self-evaluation of how well one’s physical characteristics, preferences and predispositions fit with male vs female sex roles and stereotypes of what male vs. female bodies look like. There is no fixed, essential, biological gender identity as the transgender movement claims. Take away sex roles and sex stereotypes and “poof”, ‘gender identity vanishes too.
5. p. 48, “The Concept of Enlightenment” by Max Horkheimer and theodor Adorno. In Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory edited by Carolyn Merchant
6. p. 3-4, Carolyn Merchant, Introduction to Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory
7. p. 3, Carolyn Merchant, Introduction to Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory
8. p. 44, “The Concept of Enlightenment” by Max Horkheimer and theodor Adorno. In Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory edited by Carolyn Merchant
9. p. 4, Carolyn Merchant, Introduction to Ecology: Key Concepts in Critical Theory
10. An Ecomodernist Manifesto, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5515d9f9e4b04d5c3198b7bb/t/552d37bbe4b07a7dd69fcdbb/1429026747046/An+Ecomodernist+Manifesto.pdf
11. See Part Three, beginning on page 133 in Bill McKibben’s book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out for a discussion of chilling technologies under development that will change what it means to be human – unless they are stopped.
12. See Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking
13. See The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs: Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Track Animals―and Other Forgotten Skills by Tristan Gooley
14. See What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young

American robin

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Coalition for the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act Kicks Off its Campaign with a Successful Zoom event!

The newly formed Coalition for the Feminist Amendments (“CoFA”), consisting of FIST, the LGB Alliance USA, XX Amazons, the Georgia Green Party and others, kicked off its campaign at a zoom forum on November 14, 2020 attended by over 150 people. The four speakers, Ann Menasche (FIST member and co-author of the FAEA, Tina Minkowitz (FAEA co-author), Callie Burt (Associate professor, Georgia State University), and M. Lynette Hartsell (LGB Alliance USA), gave an in depth analysis of the Feminist Amendments and made a compelling case for joining this effort. The presentations were followed by questions and comments by attendees. After the official program ended, 20 or more attendees were so inspired that they stayed on for another hour and a half and continued the discussion of issues surrounding the struggle to preserve women’s sex based rights.

CoFA’s first action after the forum was to send through U.S. mail to each member of the Senate requesting that they consider the Feminist Amendments and provide us with an opportunity to testify for these amendments. The letter is below. CoFA welcomes more volunteers as this campaign has just begun. CoFA needs feminists and our allies to call their Senators and Congress members and build our base of supporters. If you have not yet endorsed the Feminists Amendments, please sign onto the endorsement page on FIST’s website. And spread the word!

If interested in getting involved in CoFA, please email info@sexbasedrights.org.

Coalition for Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act
*****

Letter to the U.S. Senate

November 16, 2020

To members of the U.S. Senate,

The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg devoted her life to fighting for legal protections on the basis of biological sex. Congress should honor that legacy, and the legacy of so many other women who’ve fought to secure our rights, but most importantly, Congress has a duty to uphold our most basic human rights protections. The current version of the Equality Act (HR 5), now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee, will risk erasing sex as a protected class in law, weakening protections and undermining the existing rights of females as a unique class, and the progress that’s been made toward achieving equality.

The Coalition for Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act (“CoFA”) is a national alliance of feminist and LGB organizations and individuals. We write to urge hearings on our proposal to amend the Equality Act (to receive testimony on its many problematic provisions), and to provide vital input on how those issues may be fixed. The Feminist Amendments expands civil rights laws to cover lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender, and other individuals who don’t conform to gender stereotypes (roles traditionally imposed based on one’s sex), while continuing to uphold sex-based protections. In doing so, everyone’s rights are protected.

We support many of the positive provisions put forth by the Equality Act. Federal statutory protections for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals based on sexual orientation are long overdue. We applaud the closure of the loophole that allows the use of religious freedom as legal grounds to allow any person to flout civil rights laws.

At the same time, the Equality Act’s attempt to protect transgender individuals from discrimination — through the creation of “gender identity” as a protected class — creates ambiguity, confusion, and a conflict of rights that must be addressed. The term “gender identity” is subjective, in that it describes a state of mind that may or may not be manifested in dress, grooming, or behavior. This subjectivity opens a loophole ripe for abuse. As it’s used in HR-5, the term provides no objective test useful to a court, which will ultimately litigate the conflicts sure to arise from this legislation. Failure to address these conflicts will threaten long-settled statutory and case law developed to protect the rights of females as a distinctive class.

More importantly, “gender” or “gender identity” is conflated with “sex” throughout the bill, and risks eliminating sex as a protected class in civil rights law. Merging two distinct groups — who have different sets of experiences, discrimination and marginalization — is detrimental to preserving human rights protections currently afforded to females as a uniquely subjugated class.

Female only facilities are an important legacy of women’s organizing, key to the protection of the female sex against male-pattern violence and to the broader participation of women in public life. It’s vital that these basic human rights provisions remain in place.

Male-pattern violence against females is so well-documented that Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in an attempt to protect them from sexual and physical assault. However, such predatory violence remains pervasive as demonstrated by the “Me Too” movement and numerous well-documented instances of such violations by males in the entertainment business, the military, and even Congress. A Swedish study showed that this pattern of behavior is not mitigated by male-to-female sex reassignment surgery.

Moreover, the current bill’s “gender identity” provisions require that males who identify as women, including those with intact male genitalia (85-90% of males who identify as women retain male genitalia), must be admitted, solely on the basis of “self-identification,” into female facilities, such as, rape crisis centers, battered women’s shelters, homeless shelters, prisons, hospital rooms, communal showers, changing rooms, restrooms, and nursing homes.

Social scientists and international policy bodies have underscored the importance of maintaining separate statistics based on sex, as a key means of tracking disparities between the sexes, recording accurate data, and measuring our progress on addressing sex-based discrimination. In addition, there are multiple instances, such as within the context of health care, where having accurate information about a person’s sex, is vital, even life-saving.

By eliminating sex as a protected class, the bill, as currently written, would:

  • Undermine targeted remedies for the exclusion or under-representation of women and girls in education, and in jobs and professions traditionally held by men
  • Eradicate competitive women’s sports by undermining Title IX protections
  • Make it impossible to measure (and remedy) disparity between the sexes, such as the pay gap and domestic violence
  • Prevent the gathering of accurate crime and health statistics

See attached fact sheets for more information on the impact of erasing sex as a protected class in civil rights law, by allowing the concept of “gender” or “gender identity” to override “sex.”

The Feminist Amendments eliminate “gender identity” and instead establish two new categories in civil rights law: “sexual orientation” and “sex-stereotyping.” Doing so more effectively protects all classes, while not negating sex-based protections.

These amendments contain clear definitions of “sex” and “sex-stereotyping,” that will preserve female facilities and programs, allowing women and girls to participate fully in public life. (See attached.)

At the same time, the Feminist Amendments protect lesbians, gay men, bisexuals (and all people who don’t conform to imposed gender roles and stereotypes), including transgender people, from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and in places of public accommodation.

These amendments also allow for the establishment of “gender neutral” facilities for individuals who may feel safer or more comfortable in such spaces, so long as the availability and access to female only facilities is not diminished. Thus, these amendments allow each protected class to continue to make progress toward achieving true equality.

One hundred years after women’s suffrage, women still get paid less, are denied equal opportunities in the workplace, and continue to be underrepresented in many fields and positions of economic and political leadership in our society, because of their sex. Females still suffer disproportionately from domestic violence and rape because of their sex. Discrimination on the basis of sex will not end if we eliminate sex as a stand-alone protected class.

No Senate action should be taken on the Equality Act without hearings to gather evidence on the conflicts outlined in this letter. We offer the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act as our contribution to this much needed work.

We and members of our constituent organizations are prepared to sit down with you and members of your staff to discuss our concerns and appropriate strategies we might collaborate on to secure the hearing anticipated in the previous paragraph.

It is our fervent wish that you honor the legacy of our most revered jurist RBG by adopting the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act to continue her fight to protect women and girls on the basis of sex.

Sincerely,

Ann Menasche

Feminists in Struggle

M. Lynette Hartsell

LGB Alliance USA

Co-Chairs, CoFA

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Green Party National Women’s Caucus Bans Feminists from Discussion

Two women were banned from the NWC Listserv for attempting to discuss women’s sex-based rights

By Kerri Bruss

Feminists in the United States are increasingly finding themselves politically homeless. Of the two major political parties, one has made clear its intent to enshrine “gender identity” into federal civil rights law via the so-called Equality Act which as written, would completely negate the existing sex-based rights of women, while the other stands in opposition to the Act, though for what many consider to be the wrong reasons.

This dichotomy has led some left-leaning women to seek refuge in alternative parties such as the Green Party (GPUS) which, in addition to its commitments to grassroots democracy, social justice, ecology, and peace, also includes “feminism” among its 10 Key Values.

Jerri and Thistle protest at DNC

Yet for those of us who assert that a woman is an adult human female, and hold that women are oppressed based on their sex and reproductive capacity (as opposed to whatever sex-based stereotypes they do or do not adhere to) the GPUS has not been particularly welcoming. I would go so far as to say that we Greens with gender critical views, and even those who take no position in this debate but call for dialogue not expulsion as a preferred means of resolving political disputes, have been met with outright hostility in most GPUS spaces.

In mid-September of this year, I and Thistle Pettersen, feminists and Wisconsin Green Party members in good standing, joined the GPUS National Women’s Caucus (NWC) intending to generate support for the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, a document which reaffirms commitment to international standards on the rights of women and girls. On September 24, we each responded to a post contributed to the Work List of the NWC which advocated that the NWC host a workshop or panel discussion on what was termed “gender 101.” The workshop would in essence be further indoctrination into “gender identity” ideology, which is in direct contradiction to GPUS’ key value of feminism.

One caucus member diplomatically responded that perhaps a more open discussion that included all points of view on this topic might be more beneficial to the NWC and the Party as a whole. Thistle concurred and asked if caucus members were “familiar with the efforts of WoLF, FIST, and the WHRC USA to protect gender nonconformity while also protecting women’s sex-based rights.” I joined my sisters in their commentary and stated that, “I would very much like to see an open discussion ensue re: the sex-based rights of women and girls and how they are being negatively impacted in the current political climate.”


“I would very much like to see an open discussion ensue re: the sex-based rights of women and girls and how they are being negatively impacted in the current political climate.”


Considering we were contributing to the listserv of the NWC, we assumed that the perspectives of all female caucus members would be valued. We assumed that the NWC’s alleged “respect for diversity” also included respect and tolerance for diverse opinions, particularly in a political party that claims feminism as one of its 10 Key Values, and most importantly in an identity caucus that exists to engage women on issues of personal and political import to them as an oppressed sex class.

We apparently assumed wrong. Co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, Ann Link, immediately asserted that the mere mention of any organization that advocates for the sex-based rights of women “goes against” the Green Party platform plank which states:

“The Green Party affirms the right of all persons to self-determination with regard to gender identity and sex.”

It appears that Link’s stance is that because this particular platform plank exists, and because the NWC has issued a statement “affirming” this principle, (despite the fact that conflicting platform planks also exist that clearly support the rights of women, as well as the fact that the platform is a living document that changes over time), no party or caucus member is allowed to express an alternative point of view without being met with harassment, disparagement, doxxing, threats of violence—or other foul, well- documented, maneuvers intended to silence dissent—and eventual banishment from Green Party spaces, including the National Women’s Caucus.

Our suspicions were confirmed on October 11, when we received notice that Thistle and I had been, “removed from the National Women’s Caucus email list for violating caucus bylaw III.2 – respect for diversity and respect for NWC members.” The email further stated:

“This is because of a series of posts you sent initiating discussion on the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights and similar content, which denies that people should have the right of self-determination with regard to gender identity and sex. This right is supported by our platform and a statement approved by our caucus. These posts have created a threatening environment in our caucus, which should be a safe and supportive place for all our members.”

To be clear, what did not make for a “safe and supportive place” was simply “initiating discussion” on women’s sex-based rights. This is despite the fact that recent poll results show that an overwhelming majority of registered third-party voters support measures that the Declaration calls for, such as protecting women’s single-sex sports, prisons, and shelters.

Women burned at stake for saying men can't play women's sportsWe were also told that unless we recant our alleged heresy and promise to sin no more, we will not be reinstated to the listserv and would be officially removed from caucus membership—metaphorically burned at the stake. How this provides a “safe and supportive place” for women, lesbians, and those who don’t conform to sex-based stereotypes within the Green Party is unclear.

On October 27, Thistle and I published this open letter in response to our expulsion from the Women’s Caucus Work List. We find the co-chair’s stated position with regard to this matter to be invalid and we request that our full participation in the Work List for the National Women’s Caucus and hence our full participation in the business of this caucus be reinstated without delay and without conditions.

We maintain that defending the sex-based rights of women is not hate and that biology is not bigotry. We further maintain that “respect for diversity” also includes respect and tolerance for diverse opinions, particularly in a party that claims feminism as one of its 10 Key Values, and most importantly in an identity caucus that exists to engage women on issues of personal and political import to them as an oppressed sex class.

We join hundreds of other public signatories calling for “Dialogue Not Expulsion” in response to the silencing of feminist voices within the Green Party of the United States. Their statement reads:

“We ask that all member state parties, caucuses, candidates, and locals of the party take a step back from any suggestion that state organizations or their members be decertified, sanctioned, or silenced for positions they have adopted, or for concerns which they may have expressed on these important issues. We value decentralization, grassroots democracy, and a united Green Party—which will be especially important in this difficult election year. The political principles that unite us remain far more important than the questions where we clash, significant as those questions might be.”

If you are a member, volunteer, contributor or supporter of the GPUS, you can sign the Dialogue Not Expulsion statement (or sign the statement and also join the caucus) to show your support for allowing dialogue on issues affecting women here.

Green Party National Women’s Caucus Bans Feminists from Discussion first appeared on 4W.
It is republished here with permission.

Thistle, Kerri and Freind at DNC

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Women’s Revolution! Ending the Crisis of Patriarchal Civilization

By Jeanne Neath

“My friends, do we realize for what purpose we are convened? Do we fully understand that we aim at nothing less than an entire subversion of the present order of society, a dissolution of the whole existing social compact.”
(Elizabeth Oakes Smith, September 8 1852, 3rd National Women’s Rights Convention)

Elizabeth Oakes SmithMillions of women have worked over centuries for the “subversion of the present order of society, a dissolution of the whole existing social compact.” We have wrought vast changes to women’s situation in many parts of the world. Yet now the decades long right wing driven backlash has been joined by runaway misogyny on the Internet and in the real world, as well as “transgender” males trying to take on and take over the identity of “woman.” Transactivists want to define real women out of existence and make it impossible for women to meet in public in groups that exclude males. With the misogynist support of many of the Left, transactivists are fighting to end the revolution of women. Women now face backlash from the right and Left!

How unsurprising that women and the movement for Women’s Liberation should be under such strong assault right at the moment in time when the fate of an entire civilization is twisting in the wind. You know the list of evils that have shaped the world we are living in – from patriarchy and capitalism, to racism and colonialism and on and on. The immediate repercussions for us are growing at exponential speed – from police assaults in Black communities, to the COVID-19 pandemic, to pipeline and other land grabs on indigenous and public lands, to anti-immigration atrocities, to the loss of jobs and homes in a nosediving economy, to climate chaos bringing us record-setting wildfires, floods, and more.


How unsurprising that women and the movement for Women’s Liberation should be under such strong assault right at the moment in time when the fate of an entire civilization is twisting in the wind.


Perhaps the men (mostly white) in power could have continued their exploitation of other humans indefinitely, but their exploitation of the Earth has irrevocable consequences. This civilization faces an ultimatum from the Earth and will either undergo a paradigm shift and end its practices of domination and exploitation or crumble under the pressures of climate chaos and other ecological failures.

Eco-Disaster! Scientists Call for Society’s Basic Structures to Change

Wickedary by Mary DalyAfter reading a recent report about the global state of the natural world, the word “necrophilia” began to haunt me. Defined by Mary Daly as the “hatred for and envy of Life,” Daly considered necrophilia to be the “most fundamental characteristic of patriarchy.” (Wickedary, p. 83 or online) The report, the “Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Summary for Policymakers,” was released in 2019 by IPBES, a U.N. international panel of 150 experts who, with the help of another 350 scientists, reviewed 15,000 publications on the state of nature. (IPBES stands for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.)

A kind of scientific horror story, the report details the destruction of Life. We learn, for example, that globally, “natural ecosystems have declined by 47 per cent on average, relative to their earliest estimated states” and “the global biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82 per cent.” (p. 25) If patriarchal hatred and envy of life is not at play, it is certainly difficult to understand how we have come to create this Sixth Extinction of life on earth.

Climate change is the ecological disaster we hear the most about, but IPBES found that the two “direct drivers of change in nature with the largest global impact” were humans 1) taking over land and sea (through agriculture, building infrastructure and expanding urban areas) and 2) direct exploitation of “animals, plants and other organisms, mainly via harvesting, logging, hunting and fishing.” (p. 12) The climate crisis was the third ranked destroyer of nature, though its impacts will inevitably increase. (See cropped Figure SPM 2 below, from the IPBES report.)

IPBES Figure SPM 2, partial

What surprised me most was that these 150 experts recognized that the only way out of this ecological crisis is “transformative” and “structural” change to the economy and society: “Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.” (p. 14) The authors explain what they mean by “transformative”: “A fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.” (p. 14, IPBES report’s footnote 4) They continue: “Since current structures often inhibit sustainable development and actually represent the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, such fundamental, structural change is called for.” (p. 16, italics above are mine)


What surprised me most was that these 150 experts recognized that the only way out of this ecological crisis is “transformative” and “structural” change to the economy and society.


You can be sure that the IPBES authors did not call for structural change without an overwhelming reason to do so. They made projections for the earth’s and humanity’s future by considering three scenarios. The earth fared better in the global sustainability scenario (proactive environmental policy, low consumption and low carbon emissions) than in the economic optimism (rapid growth, low environmental regulation) and regional competition scenarios. In all three scenarios almost all regions of the world did have an increase in nature’s “material contributions to people” (providing food, feed, timber, bioenergy).

But, all three scenarios, including even the “global sustainability” scenario, proved to be deadly for humans and the natural world. Both biodiversity and the ability of nature to provide “ecosystem services” essential to human societies spiraled downward. (See p. 38, IPBES report, Figure SPM 8 for comparisons of the three scenarios for different regions of the world.) Don’t let your eyes glaze over at mention of the term “ecosystem services.” Yes, this is a very human-centric way of looking at Earth’s activities, but these “services,” including crop pollination, crop pest control, natural carbon storage, and protecting the soil from erosion and loss of carbon and nitrogen, are critical to human survival.


Even the “global sustainability” scenario proved to be deadly for humans and the natural world. Both biodiversity and the ability of nature to provide “ecosystem services” essential to human societies spiraled downward.


The important point here is that IPBES is calling for a paradigm change as this is the only way to keep ecosystems functioning well enough to support human life and curtail the Sixth Extinction of life on earth.

Patriarchal Civilization in Crisis: The Paradigm Must Shift

Nafeez Ahmed, a perceptive male journalist, speaks bluntly about the IPBES report: “The report concludes that human civilization is systematically destroying its own life-support systems…” He continues: “The report is by far the most comprehensive to hit home how the collapse of biodiversity ultimately entails the collapse of human civilization.”

Ahmed points out that civilizational collapse is already underway: “Our democracies are in a state of collapse: incapable of addressing the systemic complexity of the crisis of civilization.” What is this systemic complexity? There are the climate and ecological crises we’ve been talking about. Then there is the question of how society can do away with the unending growth and exploitation that drives these crises when its worldviews, value systems, political and economic structures are deeply based in a paradigm of domination and profit-taking. The problems become impossibly complex as ecological and climate disruptions spawn social problems like wars and conflicts, large scale human migrations, and losses in communities wracked by wildfires and floods. As Ahmed explains, “our political leaders are preoccupied with the surface symptoms of this fundamental crisis of civilization rather then the crisis itself.”


“Our democracies are in a state of collapse: incapable of addressing the systemic complexity of the crisis of civilization.”


Ahmed argues that even the most forceful non-violent resistance cannot force fundamental changes on a system that is incapable of handling the extent and complexity of change required: “To break this paradigm requires far more than making demands of broken institutions.” He says that a paradigm shift must overturn the very basis of society, from the economic system to people’s deeply held values and beliefs to how we relate to others and live our everyday lives. Ahmed believes this paradigm shift can be brought on by individuals taking responsibility for changing ourselves, asking “how can I actually mobilize to build the new paradigm,” and taking “radical action in our own place-based contexts to build the seeds of the new paradigm, right here, right now.”

La Via Campesina Campaign to End Violence Against women

And Now…Sisterhood of Women and Earth

I don’t think the IPBES, Nafeez Ahmed, or the vast majority of radicals from the Left are looking for a women’s revolution when they call for paradigm change. It has become very clear with its pandering to the transgender movement that the Left is very willing to toss women and Lesbians under the bus. Any shift in paradigm that is not driven primarily by women would keep patriarchy in place and we know what that would mean for the Earth and for women.

As I see it, we must go further than what Ahmed suggests. Any new paradigm must move out of patriarchy and be based in Female and Earth centered societies. The tasks for women will depend on our what society or societies we are part of. We may be deeply embedded in the dominant society (globalized capitalist patriarchy) or belong, primarily or to a lesser extent, to Indigenous or other societies outside the dominant society.

Existing Matriarchal and Indigenous societies are already living in the new/old paradigm, yet women within them struggle against incursions by the dominant society and, in some societies, with a degree of male domination within. (Male domination within Indigenous societies is often the result of past and present colonization by invading patriarchal societies, but can also derive from “ancestral original patriarchy.”[1])

Women trapped within the dominant society can learn from Indigenous and Matriarchal societies and provide support for those cultures and the women in those cultures, as it is requested. Additional key tasks for women ensconced in the dominant society are to work to stop that society and all its oppressive practices and begin actively creating new Female and Earth centered systems and societies to replace the dominant global patriarchy.


Earth, the most powerful female force, is speaking clearly with every raging wildfire, hellish hurricane, or seething flood tearing at this man-made civilization. Nothing less than an equally fiery movement of women can turn the paradigm that is patriarchy into ashes.


The movement for Women’s Liberation lacks power now, thanks to decades of backlash and the divisions amongst us. The continued belief of many women in reform has always hobbled the movement, but now many reform-minded feminists are supporting transactivists and actively turning against radical feminists. The transactivists’ attempts to erase women and Lesbians and their campaign to label radical feminists as “TERFs” and cancel us are proving to be both an obstacle for Women’s Liberation as well as a consciousness raiser that draws more and more women to radical feminism.

In order to build up the international Women’s Liberation movement we must step up our organizing against queer and transgender ideologies and end the Left’s love affair with transactivism. We must stop the runaway misogyny. At the same time, our focus on a decolonizing ecofeminism, the power of our female bodies and spirits, the wisdom of women from every race and culture, and the creation of new – and defense of existing – Female and Earth centered subcultures, cultures, and societies serves as inspiration and refuge, as well as helping create the needed shift in paradigm. As women’s movement and power builds and ecological understandings come to the fore, support for transgender attempts to use excessive medical (Earth) resources and disregard biological realities will fade.

The Earth herself is now demanding “nothing less than an entire subversion of the present order of society,” the goal of women in 1852 and the goal of radical feminists today. Earth, the most powerful female force, is speaking clearly with every raging wildfire, hellish hurricane, or seething flood tearing at this man-made civilization. Nothing less than an equally fiery movement of women can turn the paradigm that is patriarchy into ashes. Yes, time is short as Earth’s temperature rises, but women are rising too. With the sisterhood of women and Earth teamed up against it, I don’t think capitalist patriarchy stands a chance. As Susan B. Anthony told us, “Failure is Impossible!”

Sisters in Spirit book plus Black Matriarchy Project

*****

Footnotes

1. Here’s a quote from Betty Ruth Lozano Lerma: “Latin American feminisms question both Western patriarchy and the subordination of non-heterosexual women and persons within indigenous and Afro-descendant cultures. They affirm the existence of pre-Hispanic patriarchies, giving rise to concepts such as ‘ancestral original patriarchy’ and ‘low-intensity patriarchy,’ which show how women within the colonial context experienced an entanglement of patriarchies –entronque de patriarcados and, for the Afro-descendant case, ‘a black-colonial patriarchy’…” In “Latin American and Caribbean Feminisms” by Betty Ruth Lozano Lerma, an article in Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary.