Edit: Just did some further reading and the preferred term for Berdache is Two Spirit (Berdache is etymologically Spanish in origin and has negative connotations…however, I don’t want to say ‘Spirituality of the Two Spirit’ as it’s repetitive. More information here.)
So, just read an amazing post by V. There are some aspects of feminism a man needs to know about but can find difficult to relate to. There’s plenty of things that happen to women as routine that men can’t or at least don’t ever go through. I think these may be some of the most important things for men to learn (as early as possible) in order to become real full people…rather than the people who commit the gross gender violence that occurs in our society.
The irony of course is that most of the things that only happen to men, the rites of passage if you like, are the things that reinforce superiority and strength and just how ‘natural’ it is for men to dominate women.
It pains me.
Anyway, V linked to a great seam of information on sexuality and gender in Native American traditions. This stuff is planting seeds of ideas directly in the huge pile of idea compost in my head.
I love this stuff about the Berdache, the idea of a third gender, possessed of both masculine and feminine parts, and hence being spiritually stronger and more powerful. More complete maybe.
It feeds into ideas of the Platonic hermaphrodite, and reminds me that I kind of favour a sort of ‘Androgynism’.
It’s going to take a while to stew, but I sense a story brewing up. Some kind of fantasy spiritually engendered rites of passage thing.
It’s just seeds right now….but these look like good strong seeds, and it might just be the right season for it.
I’d like to explore gender a bit more fully than just having a couple of lesbian main characters and acting like that makes me open minded…though I do love those two characters.
The problem is going to be becoming preachy; what I need is a good story, utilising this character.
I guess if anything, the problem is going to be making it clear that there’s an acknowledged equality between the sexes in the first place. There’s a hegemonic idea (I believe) that seems to force people to view gender in a very specific and unhealthy way. Essentially, if a man takes on feminine characteristics he is assumed to only take the god bits and not the weakness, and if a woman takes on masculine characteristics, she is seen as abandoning her femininity…thus reinforcing male dominance.
That last one is the important one I think. I think it’s a problem with a lot of gender politics that it becomes obsessed (for many) with allowing women to be like men. Women can fight male dominance by becoming more like men. It leaves the dominance structure in position, never changing it, and is likely to leave huge numbers of women still oppressed. I guess my ideal would be some kind of transcendence of gender, where both men and women stop being reliant on gender stereotypes and explore the full range of feelings and strengths, an androgynous and free society of equals.
Know what I mean?
Possibly not, I’m not being very clear here.
On a related (or not) note. (This has been quite a scattershot post really…I’m enjoying it more, than some of my more focussed recent efforts).
There’s a lot of stuff about beauty being defined by femininity. It is the feminine physical characteristics that have been presented historically as being attractive and visually pleasing. Now this is indicative of the objectification of women…which is bad..obviously.
Is it socially ingrained that curves and arches are what we find sexy?
I mean, when I feel happy with my body, and think I look sexy, it’s partly because my hips are curving just so, and my body has this arc from top to bottom, like a slow gentle wave of flesh running downwards.
I think it’s sexy, its the thing that makes me feel confident about my appearance. Unfortunately most of the clothes I wear don’t exactly advertise it (I’m generally scared to crossdress enough to bring them out fully, for various reasons…not least being that I want to subvert gender not just cross it…if that makes sense), so that self-confidence I sometimes have when naked rarely comes through into my day to day life (I can be very shy in a lot of situations….many people don’t believe me when I say that, but it’s true). In fact, the only bulge that is normally obvious during my day to day life is the potbelly, and that’s the wrong kind of curve (to much bulge in the wrong direction…not curved enough or too curved or something…it doesn’t work).
Anyway, is this feminine beauty showing through, or are curves not gendered, is it simply that we make/allow women to emphasise them more, the clothes are the problem, specifically the way they are gendered, and the way they create one gender as the object of the other.
Where’s the problem? Is it terrible that I define my beauty and sexuality as being part of my femininity? Surely it’s good that I, as a man, acknowledge my femininity? Do I acknowledge my femininity in the wrong features? Do I in fact conform to, and understand myself through, the stereotypes I claim to struggle against? Is gender play enough? Is talking enough?
Surprisingly enough, I don’t know. But I certainly enjoy thinking about it.