Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What to do with a Gender Binary?

Before I was banned from this group, I went to a meet up where in the general discussion a person mentioned a Women's Retreat. I don't recall which one she meant, but there are Pagan Women Retreats throughout the United States. This also is not a purely Pagan or New Age ideology. Christian Churches will have women's retreats, or even secular groups will engage in this dichotomy. To be clear, there are also male-only retreats or gatherings.

As the title suggests, I'm not a fan of this.
Gender binary is the classification of sex and gender into two distinct, opposite and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine. This type of binary system typically associates someone's gender to their sexual organs. It also promotes that fallacy that someone has to be entirely gendered-male or entirely gendered-female, else it puts in question the legitimacy of their gender.

Let me use myself as an example. I am a female-sex feminine-gendered person. People will make the assumptions that I will want to date and eventually marry a man, have children, clean the house, care about my appearance, be sensitive, be caring, etc. I have a friend who is a male-sex masculine-gendered person, to which people make the assumptions that he likes to date and have sex with women, is tough, likes sports, indifferent towards children, dumb with emotions but rational, a slob, etc. But the reality for both me and my friend are a mix between these "assumptions." Almost anyone you pull off the street and talk to will have a mix of what the gender binary says should belong only to one gender. 

This does not take into consideration that people do not have to identify with a certain gender. Gender is a fluid term, dependent on social and personal constructs. Therefore, it is extremely relative to a person. There are people who are genderqueer, or are not "female" or "male." They exist too.

I already discussed in this article about how I do not believe in the gender binary, but that there are pagan religions that depend on this construct such as Dianic Wicca. Traditional Wicca, too, requires this binary as it is a fertility religion. 

But I'm not Wiccan, so I shouldn't have a problem with all of Paganism. Only Wicca sunk its claws deep into the general Pagan audience to the point that most Pagans celebrate some form of Wiccan Wheel of the Year. With the Wiccan influence, the Wheel of the Year marks not only the Earth's rotation around the Sun but also how the God is rebirthed and courts the Goddess. I have stored in my resources how the God and the Goddess are embodiment of the Masculine and Feminine energy respectively. Sure, anyone can have a mixture of these two energies, but these were thee two energies

This also gets into any type of item or subject within Witchcraft. No, I don't understand why "Lavender" has a "male" gender nor do I care to use it as such. That makes no sense to me. Why is my wand considered "masculine"? Have you seen it? Held it? Why would anything without genitals or involving some sort of sexual spell require a gender anyway? Why would it matter? Outside of Wicca and Neowicca, the fertility specifications are irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. Yet the pagan community, authors, members, and the like continue to push the gender binary.

I think that is all I have to write about at the moment, without getting into the specific post on Tumblr that sparked this inner rage. I just hate and loath the Gender Binary and those who push it. I am at the point where I think I may try to start a correlation of Pagans and Witches Against the Gender Binary and Heteronormativity (the latter term is another whole post in and of itself.) But I don't know how to go about doing that or what it would even accomplish.

So, I guess that's where I leave you reader, with the title of this very post...
What to do with the Gender Binary 
in Paganism and Witchcraft?


  1. i was linked to this post via iconomancy.tumblr, and i wanted to say i share these opinions, and also that the application of human/animal sex functions on things that simply do not function that way is gross and ignorant. why do we celebrate this single type of creation, when the world abounds with different kinds? air doesnt have a penis and water doesn't have a vagina! i myself apply a lot of science in my own beliefs and celebrate creation beyond egg/sperm as divine, that the things we are all made of goes far beyond peepees and vajayjays, but yet, here we are with a horned god and all that. why do people insist on imposing it on other people and everything else. i don't really talk to people much so forgive my gushing and awkwardness, ill just leave my name and blog link here in case you want to get in touch, ill be hanging around because i would like to be there when this comes to surface!

    1. Thanks for your reply! I incorporate science into my practice a lot too, by the way :)

      I actually had some interesting conversations on Tumblr about the nature of this, and it seems that these gender associations are taken from ceremonial magic (but skipped how they got the associations to begin with.)

      I think I am going to do my best to just ignore the gender associations whenever present because I don't know where they came from, nor do I care.

  2. Fuck yeah!

    You said it great. This has been getting to me so much lately, even when only being a part of pagan communities Wiccan influence of the gender binary is insane.

    I really just want people to cut it with "the sacred feminine womb of the woman" Seriously, genitals can not have a gender. Gender is mental and social, not physical. Why does everything with a vagina need to be feminine and women and stuff? I have a vagina, and its manly because I'm a man.

    I want to be like "well I got a vag and its not magical and woman-y and feminine. Its a vagina." But the sex = gender of the binary is just so strong in paganism.... It can be really alienating.

    Sorry about the ranting. I just needed to get that out. This misgendering stuff can build up a lot of frustration. I really like your piece. Just yes!

    One suggestion, though. feminine-gendered and such, feminine is a gender expression. As is masculine. When referencing gender, boy, woman, girl, non, multi, etc. work. Unless your gender is unclear and so you only have gender expression to determine it. Wasn't sure on your use, there. But it could be wrongly determined. Sorry if I just missed something obvious.

    Also, if you start that against the binary and heteronormativity stuff for pagans, let me know! I will very happily join, if its online, at least. I have been thinking of making a space as such myself!

    One more thing, I would love to see your thoughts on how Wiccan influence also seems to have led to a lot of "love and light always". Its almost to a point where paganism is only for positivity. And sometimes even shuns other emotions and expressions.

    Negativity is just as much natural as positivity. And not being positive, agree with expression or not, certainly does not make someone not a pagan/witch.

    1. Yeah, I think my word usage of "feminine" was incorrect. I did mean woman and man in the first part.

      I've been keeping an on-going list of non-gender related types of energy for magic, most of which I picked up from people on Tumblr. I don't know if you're part of the Tumblr community, but even if you aren't, there's a blog called that could perhaps help you out :] It's run by queer pagans, and I know at least one mod is genderqueer.

      So far, I haven't made "Pagans Against the Gender Binary and Heteronormativity"... Partly because of the QueerPagans blog mentioned above, but I think a campaign or something to place on blogs (like LGBTAQ+ safe place stickers) could be helpful. At least raise awareness at how predominate this type of thinking.

      As for writing about "love and light", I might eventually get around to it. On the Tumblr community, it's discussed to death. I follow mainly people who aren't about "love and light", and even people who aren't nature worshippers. Perhaps if my blog gets slow, I'll rehash why exactly "love and light" isn't a defining aspect of paganism because--exactly as you state--there are many other forms of emotions that are just as valid.