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Author Topic: Paganism and Masculinity  (Read 4626 times)

Demophon

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2015, 10:39:56 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;178672
I've always found it interesting that the Germanic worldview (theoretically) had a gender understanding of male/non-male, which wasn't really based on biological gender but on a state of being. Children were non-male regardless of biological gender, the elderly were non-male regardless of gender. But any person (woman or man) would be considered male if they were in the state of being male.

It sounds to me like you see paganism in much the same way, except with a gender understanding of female/non-female, and I can actually totally see how you get that. To be honest, I don't know how that helps though. You could work with that understanding and focus on being in a state of non-female more than focusing on a strict ideal of pagan masculinity? I don't know. But I do hope you keep us updated on this, because I'm actually quite interested on how you'll make it work.

Thanks, that's really interesting.
 
Quote from: Darkhawk;178675
I would expect that there are a number of factors involved here.  Here are some off the top of my head:

* people who are comfortable with normative mainstream behaviour are less likely to become involved in marginalised social groups
* in the absence of rigid role policing, people who aren't interested in normative topics don't feel the need to pretend to be interested to fit in
* in the presence of different role policing, people will downplay their interests that don't fit and play up things that do
* not everyone considers stuff like "long hair" to be gendered, or not in the way that current culture does; after all, in a number of cultures it's a token of virility and potency to have long hair (and cutting it could be literally emasculating)
* broader models of "masculinity" mean that there isn't as tight clustering - I mean, where would you put my ritual groupmate who has no interest in sportsball but does armoured combat and archery recreationally?  That's not normative performative masculinity but I suspect even the "traditionally masculine" sorts would consider a capacity to win ritual combat qualifies as masculine
* goddess-centricity and associated stuff tends to lead to people being more aware of the toxicity in parts of normative masculinity and thus to those behaviours being discouraged, at least in those people assumed to be men

My experience with the male pagans that I've known well has been, for the most part, that they are secure enough with their maleness that they don't feel the need to engage in display behaviour; if they're not interested in football, they don't feel the need to pretend they are to be "one of the guys".

To the extent that the pagan community encourages people to present themselves more honestly and without mandating insecure masculinity (which I think varies wildly and is not as good as some people would like to argue) that's a good thing; to the extent that there's a different set of norms being policed, a bad thing.

(One of my husbands has long expressed that one of the things that infuriates him about modern mainstream masculinity is that he is discouraged from presenting himself attractively.  What good is it being vain if you can't find any nice shirts?)

Good points. I was thinking about how paganism (broadly speaking) tends to attract people for whom conforming to normative behaviour is not important, which I agree makes a lot of sense. I do think it often can be a situation of just a different set of norms being policed, like you said. Personally, I do lean more towards normative standards in how I dress and what I am interested in outside of my spirituality, which I find alienates me from the pagan community and its love of subcultures. Within said subcultures it seems like it's definitely just an alternate set of norms.

Maybe it's similar for both men and women who identify with pagan spirituality, but don't care that much about Game of Thrones or dressing in steampunk attire, to relate to the larger pagan community. In my personal experience, I just find that paganism attracts a greater diversity of women, but most men who bother to get involved in paganism are of a more non-mainstream persuasion. I guess they would have to be, and that probably says more about the wider culture than it does about paganism.
 
Quote from: Altair;178678
Another "traditionally masculine" (cisgendered) queer male here, and I totally hear you.

Granted, our categories of "masculine" and "feminine" are largely socially constructed (though I think you can make an argument for any behaviors largely driven by testosterone as biologically masculine, as opposed to socially derived). But I think your shorthand of "traditionally masculine" is fairly clear: The behaviors/appearance that modern Western culture has assigned to a masculine persona.

Is there room for that in the Wicca-related neopagan movement?

Good, I'm glad I made some sense, after all :D:

I think there can be, as even the most eclectic and New Age kinds of Wicca acknowledge a Horned God who represents the more "male" aspects of Deity. As I mentioned before, I think the understanding of male deity in general is very underdeveloped in modern paganism, but maybe it comes with time. If I remember correctly, the Farrars say in their book, The Witches' God, something about how humanity has no need of violent war gods like Ares and Mars, though it's hard to imagine someone saying something similar about a war goddess like the Morrigan, for example, who is popular among modern pagans. That book was written a while ago, so maybe times are changing and there is less denial of those sorts of things.

I always felt, especially as a young person with hormones pumping, that there weren't acceptable outlets for my anger, or even sexual desire, and no models for how to deal with them in a healthy way. It's a problem that is not unique to the pagan community, though since the pagan community tends to be more female-centered, there is a sense of support lacking for young men trying to understand themselves. That's probably the main inspiration behind this discussion for me underneath all the rest.

On the other hand, there are groups that really exaggerate masculinity, which isn't really any better, and also makes male identity confusing. For example, gay culture makes caricatures of manly man stereotypes, as styles like the oddly well groomed lumberjack, or the whole "bear" culture, are very big right now. I guess it's interesting to see how different communities deal with these issues.

Quote from: Tom;178694
Why is your definition of traditional masculinity based on the physical aspect only? Why can't we go with other definitions such as being an excellent orator or debater? These things aren't necessarily gendered nowadays, but they've been used in the past as a hallmark of great men, particularly in Hellenic society.

One's skills as an orator don't come up very much.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2015, 10:49:21 pm by Demophon »

Darkhawk

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2015, 01:47:14 am »
Quote from: Demophon;178709
Personally, I do lean more towards normative standards in how I dress and what I am interested in outside of my spirituality, which I find alienates me from the pagan community and its love of subcultures. Within said subcultures it seems like it's definitely just an alternate set of norms.


I think it's worth noting that, say, an interest in football is also part of a subculture.  Being in a situation where your preferred subculture is not normative is... well.  I suspect it's not a situation that a huge number of people are going to have a lot of sympathy for?

Quote
Maybe it's similar for both men and women who identify with pagan spirituality, but don't care that much about Game of Thrones or dressing in steampunk attire, to relate to the larger pagan community.


There are a couple of things here that I think are worth saying.

One of them being that while I don't do open pagan community a whole lot, I've never been in a circumstance where that sort of thing was required to relate - I'm far, far more familiar with circumstances where celebrating the Wheel of the Year was required to relate.  (Game of Thrones I file with Breaking Bad: I like my entertainment to be about something other than dreadful people being dreadful, thanks.  I'm sure there's interesting stuff to be had there but I'ma go watch something that doesn't make me feel awful instead thanks.)

I'm aware of the subliminal "difficulty talking with people who don't share my dress mode" (because in my ordinary life I am basically the only female-read person I encounter who wears a goddamn t-shirt because normative female presentation).  But one of the things that I have found soothing about pagan community is that the people who have fancy dress in whatever mode, the people who have t-shirts, the people who go for some variety of nice shirt, the people who have other setups, are largely nonjudgemental about other people's sartorial decisions.  Participation in costuming or costuming conversations is not required or particularly relevant, and the sheer variety means that normativity doesn't much happen.

(Which means I'm not the one person there who isn't wearing a blouse in one of three colours and slacks with my hair styled just so and professional-office-class makeup, which is where the awkwardness comes in for me.  There's someone else with a t-shirt.  There's someone else in a ridiculous thing with feathers.  There's someone else in a nice tooled leather vest.  None of these people are violating the unspoken dress code by existing as themselves, like I do every day I step out of the damn house because I'm probably wearing a t-shirt.)

Quote
In my personal experience, I just find that paganism attracts a greater diversity of women, but most men who bother to get involved in paganism are of a more non-mainstream persuasion. I guess they would have to be, and that probably says more about the wider culture than it does about paganism.


It does, I think.  I think it's also worth noting that you may be more attentive to perceived things in one gender presentation over another.

If there's an absence of mainstream-normative male presentations in the pagan community, it doesn't strike me as more notable than the similar absence of the mainstream-normative female presentations.  Mainstream-normative presentations, period, are not required, and therefore only people who really want to present that way are likely to go to that much effort (and, I suspect, don't consider their presentations effortful like those of us who have to live in the fake-it zone do when attempting the same effect).

People having diverse options for how they present themselves means that they don't have to lock themselves into what will be unremarkable at work or when picking up the kids from school, which means that people of any gender identification will be more able to find presentations that they are comfortable with rather than being locked into the two or three models that pass with minimal comment in the mainstream.

Quote
If I remember correctly, the Farrars say in their book, The Witches' God, something about how humanity has no need of violent war gods like Ares and Mars, though it's hard to imagine someone saying something similar about a war goddess like the Morrigan, for example, who is popular among modern pagans. That book was written a while ago, so maybe times are changing and there is less denial of those sorts of things.


Yeah, I've heard plenty of people either handwring about how horrible it is that people deal with war goddesses or attempt to rewrite those goddesses into something that's less bloody-minded and bloody-handed.

Quote
I always felt, especially as a young person with hormones pumping, that there weren't acceptable outlets for my anger, or even sexual desire, and no models for how to deal with them in a healthy way. It's a problem that is not unique to the pagan community,


Of course it isn't.  Western culture as a whole is completely and catastrophically fucked up on these topics, and the pagan part of it is not, as a general rule, an exception.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2015, 07:43:56 am »
Quote from: Demophon;178709
One's skills as an orator don't come up very much.

 
That's a surprise. Apparently public speaking is not considered an important skill to you then? I mean, I know a good number of people who are involved in an Improv trope who would pretty much tell you that is a skill that comes up very much. Speaking at rallies, taking leadership at groups, taking part in ritual drama and acting in plays, those are all examples of oratory speech.

I see that you've dodged my original question though. From what /tradition/ is your definition of masculinity from? And why are you focusing primarily on physical feats of strength?

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2016, 11:09:38 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;178647
I have come to notice that mainstream neo-paganism really doesn't have much representation when it comes to traditional masculinity.

I'm resurrecting this thread because I stumbled across this eye-popper at the The Wild Hunt:

http://www.allanspiers.com/sabbath/ [Warning: NSFW -- Artistic Nudity (also autostart music) -- added by Randall]

The photographer, Allan Spiers, in his two-part interview at The Wild Hunt (part 1 is here, and part 2 here), bemoans the same things Demophon raises in his original post and that I have a vague sense of (vague, because I don't generally participate in public events with other pagans; the Cauldron is my primary point of contact).

Is there a need for a #ButchGuysMatter movement in modern paganism?

(I also find it interesting that the guys grappling with this, at least in the immediate vicinity--Demophon, myself, the photographer in question--are all gay guys.)
« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, 10:57:29 am by RandallS »
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
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Jack

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2016, 03:26:46 am »
Quote from: Altair;200487
Is there a need for a #ButchGuysMatter movement in modern paganism?

 
*blink*
*blink blink*

I've been hanging out with heathens too long, haven't I?
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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2016, 05:56:40 am »
Quote from: Altair;200487

http://www.allanspiers.com/sabbath/

 
Just as a note -- this site is very NSFW; it contains nudity (including full-frontal) and automatically plays music. It's a site for art photography, not pornographic material, but regardless it is likely unsafe for most workplaces and schools.

I'm not removing the link, just adding this warning for those who want to click it.

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2016, 08:20:33 am »
Quote from: Morag;200494
Just as a note -- this site is very NSFW; it contains nudity (including full-frontal) and automatically plays music. It's a site for art photography, not pornographic material, but regardless it is likely unsafe for most workplaces and schools.

I'm not removing the link, just adding this warning for those who want to click it.

Morag
TC Forum Staff


D'OH! Thanks, Morag; I was looking at this from home, so the above very necessary warning didn't cross my mind...and it should have, since I often check the Cauldron from work myself. Apologies.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Altair

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2016, 08:35:51 am »
Quote from: Jack;200492
*blink*
*blink blink*

I've been hanging out with heathens too long, haven't I?


Sorry, I was imprecise in that latest post; I should have phrased that as I phrased it earlier:

Is there a need for a #ButchGuysMatter movement in the Wicca-related neopagan movement?

(Since as I understand and you point out, socially normative masculine behavior is not in short supply among heathens!)
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Altair

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2016, 09:07:45 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;178675
I would expect that there are a number of factors involved here.  Here are some off the top of my head:

* people who are comfortable with normative mainstream behaviour are less likely to become involved in marginalised social groups
* in the absence of rigid role policing, people who aren't interested in normative topics don't feel the need to pretend to be interested to fit in
* in the presence of different role policing, people will downplay their interests that don't fit and play up things that do
* not everyone considers stuff like "long hair" to be gendered, or not in the way that current culture does; after all, in a number of cultures it's a token of virility and potency to have long hair (and cutting it could be literally emasculating)
* broader models of "masculinity" mean that there isn't as tight clustering - I mean, where would you put my ritual groupmate who has no interest in sportsball but does armoured combat and archery recreationally?  That's not normative performative masculinity but I suspect even the "traditionally masculine" sorts would consider a capacity to win ritual combat qualifies as masculine
* goddess-centricity and associated stuff tends to lead to people being more aware of the toxicity in parts of normative masculinity and thus to those behaviours being discouraged, at least in those people assumed to be men

My experience with the male pagans that I've known well has been, for the most part, that they are secure enough with their maleness that they don't feel the need to engage in display behaviour; if they're not interested in football, they don't feel the need to pretend they are to be "one of the guys".

To the extent that the pagan community encourages people to present themselves more honestly and without mandating insecure masculinity (which I think varies wildly and is not as good as some people would like to argue) that's a good thing; to the extent that there's a different set of norms being policed, a bad thing.

(One of my husbands has long expressed that one of the things that infuriates him about modern mainstream masculinity is that he is discouraged from presenting himself attractively.  What good is it being vain if you can't find any nice shirts?)

 
[boldfacing above added]

I wanted to return to this insightful post and evaluate one aspect of what Darkhawk wrote in the context of not just men seeking to express traditional masculinity in a Wicca-related pagan context, but gay men seeking to do so.

The bolded section may be essential. Certainly in my experience, gay men in Western society are not necessarily secure in our masculinity; we're not taught to embrace it. The expectation for a gay man is that he will be feminized in any or all of several ways. This can be incredibly liberating, in that we're not bound by the often straightjacket conventions of stereotypical maleness and can embrace and explore our feminine sides. The Radical Fairies are a good example of a pagan-ish group that does that. And I think that's incredibly valuable for all gay men, and particularly those who are non-normative in their gender expression.

But conversely, from the moment we are identified as gay, Western society somehow designates us as "lesser" as men. (The number of guys who'll have sex with other men, but don't consider that behavior in any way gay because they were the "top", is astounding, and reflective of the deep misogyny in our society, where being in the penetrated position--the "female" role--is considered negative.) As we gays enter the mainstream, this idea is losing traction, but it's still there; the fact that "fag" is still the biggest schoolyard insult for boys, and "that's so gay" has come into vogue (and hopefully passed out of fashion) as a way to denigrate almost anything, show how deeply this is embedded in our society.

So I think many of us gay men want to embrace and explore gender-normative expressions of our masculinity--a reclaiming of what society has long denied us--and do so in a pagan context. In the Wicca-related traditions, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room to do that.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2016, 10:59:28 am »
Quote from: Morag;200494
I'm not removing the link, just adding this warning for those who want to click it.

I added a NSFW warning to the post itself. The photography is fantastic, but it would definitely not be welcome at some workplaces.
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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2016, 11:35:48 am »
Quote from: RandallS;200501
I added a NSFW warning to the post itself. The photography is fantastic, but it would definitely not be welcome at some workplaces.


Thanks, Randall
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2016, 06:22:12 am »
Quote from: Altair;200504
Thanks, Randall

No problem. That's some truly fantastic photography.
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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2016, 12:07:49 pm »
Quote from: Altair;200500
So I think many of us gay men want to embrace and explore gender-normative expressions of our masculinity--a reclaiming of what society has long denied us--and do so in a pagan context. In the Wicca-related traditions, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room to do that.

 
To add to that, I also think that sex is a major theme in modern paganism, particularly in the more traditional forms of pagan witchcraft, so having models of masculinity that spark feelings of attraction and desire can be pretty important when it comes to tapping into that kind of energy. Judging by the accounts I follow on Instagram, I seem to have a thing for fit, athletic shirtless hunks, who are not represented very well in the pagan community, let me tell you. :D:

Quote from: Altair;200487

http://www.allanspiers.com/sabbath/ [Warning: NSFW -- Artistic Nudity (also autostart music) -- added by Randall]


Is a guy rimming a goat-man in one of those pics? :p

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Re: Paganism and Masculinity
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2016, 09:20:44 am »
Quote from: Demophon;200525
Is a guy rimming a goat-man in one of those pics? :p

 
Yes, yes he was...
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Board Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, HarpingHawke, Jenett, Morag, rocquelaire, Sefiru

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Reserve Staff:
Aisling

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Cauldron Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]

Site Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]
Webmaster:
Randall