In Your Own Words – Gender Polarity

gender polarity


The concept of gender polarity is a highly debated one in Paganism, especially within the LGBT Pagan community. Too many the pseudo-heterosexuality of it all is alienating to put it nicely.

The concept that both male and female energies are required for all things is not a hard one to grasp and for me it is logical. Opposites need to interact to create energy – that is scientific fact. Paganism applies the gender labels to these energies on the grounds that there are only two genders and we all have a gender – yes, like most of modern thinking it is fixated on the gender binary model. This is where I have a real problem with gender polarity on a literal level as neither gender nor sexuality are binary. This gender alignment is indeed alienating to those who are transgender or who do not identify comfortably within the binary gender system.

The ritualistic re-enactment of the heterosexual union can obviously be uncomfortable to LGBT too. While some of us can equate it to the science of life many do not want to. Endless wittering’s on fertility based on heterosexuality are not only meaningless and offensive to many LGBT they are discriminatory.

There is also the gender discrimination in how many portray the deity – gods are darker and stronger than goddesses and in turn goddesses are sweet and loving. Very nice and cutesy if that is what you like.

None of this is gospel and if people want to believe this way that is cool but when this kind of thing, which is loaded with discrimination, is used to be a foundation it is going to cause no end of problems for those who do not fit into the neat little boxes. The tendency to discount LGBT is a reality and needs to be addressed.

For years I believed I should not form close spiritual connections with male deity as a birth assigned woman. Anyone who knows me will know why that was never going to work out. This concept that males should only deal with male deity and females likewise does not allow for personal polarity and balance.

Paganism is very individualistic and if we are all allowed to find our own polarity it works, it is when we try to dictate what is right for everyone else that problems arise. There is a need for a general baseline of belief or practice but that baseline surely should not be a hiding place for sexism, homophobia, transphobia or any other form of bigotry. Polarity of energies is an important concept but to use gender as identifiers is dangerous.




© J Farmer 2013


2 comments on “In Your Own Words – Gender Polarity

  1. where to begin? well for a start thanks for this Jeremy 🙂

    to be perfectly plain, I think worshipping biology and fertility is oppressive, and the fixation on fertility really becomes obscure once you loose the early 20th century reductive obsession with that being the central motif of “primitive religion”. The colonial mind set is now dissipated, but the remains are still there I think. It’s also dishonest, as I think most people who are plugged into that are actually venerating sex, which is a completely different thing (unless you have a hang over about sex needing to be procreative). It’s funny how some heterosexuals still hide their sense of superiority of desire behind fertility, even when they are avoiding reproduction themselves. I’ve yet to understand how someone can do the “great rite” in actual without sexual desire, and sexuality being a central part of it. Or how they can still do it with either contraception or beyond menopause and claim that it is all about fertility. Yet non-fertility is claimed to be the reason that same sex couples cannot do that. Not my religion, but I’ve heard the discussions often enough.

    I think that kind of thing is where a lot of the gender stuff is coming from in Paganism.

    I’m not sure if male and female energy is required for all things in fact. I’m not sure if there isn’t actually just one energy of amazing complexity and many facets, that goes beyond the separation of us seeming to “be” in different bodies. I think polarity is powerful, but polarity can be experienced in all manner of ways. Gender relationships can also be polarized in all kinds of ways (though I don’t think they have to be), but that is a matter of relationship, not because there are only two genders that are relating to each other (or each other’s energy in unusual forms). Say you have eight genders, just as an imagined model. The polarity comes from any two relating to each other mutually, it’s in the relationship and the mutuality, that’s where the “power” is, not in their being archetypally this or that. For that matter, two *individuals* of the same 1/8 gender can have a powerful, polarized relationship, if they have the mutual relationship. Once you decouple from the cattle breeding model, you get to look at what is actually there.

    I personally think it’s a good thing for people to look at motifs like the repeated enactment of heterosexual union (to the exclusion of other kinds of union) and ask what this does to them, what this is telling them, over and over. Is this actually helping them have a full and equal life? As with the faithful woman who accepts that only men can be priests, that God is male, and that her place is blessed in that scheme, you have to respect people’s choices, and that there are things they are experiencing that you do not understand. But personally I’d question it for myself.

    As for the depictions of deities within neopaganism, I find the stereotypes personally offensive, though as a youngster all I wanted to do was understand. The eternal reproductive female, and the sacrificable, usable male are a door I would close, even if it weren’t bolted to me.

    Of course this is all talking about what has filtered through from Wicca into a mainstream, and there is a lot else besides within Paganism, but it still seems to be very influential, and many gay and lesbian people (not sure about the numbers of trans) seem to be attracted to it, I think because it is sex positive in certain respects (but actually ambivalently so), and it starts to explore gender issues, and gender is often an implicit conundrum for people who are excluded from the heterosexual model.

    Really I feel that LGBT people have so much to deal with, and so much healing to do often, as well as still needing to change our world for the better. I think our spiritual choices are important, because we often need the support and healing of spirituality, but we have to also ask what the price of any religion is for our folks.

    Paganism is for me an individual path and a personal religion, and that is why I am here. As a culture we are only just beginning to understand gender, and i think it would be good if we could be part of understanding gender better, rather than reinforcing models that don’t actually fit reality.

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