Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Proud of Pagans: Budapest Protest at Pantheacon


(Edit of 2/22/12 - Below I wrote that last year's rite was run by Z Budapest. I have been informed that Z Budapest was not involved in last year's controversial event and didn't bar anyone from anything. Her involvement was in later comments of an unsavory nature. Last year's rite was lead by some one that goes by the name of Rabbit.)

My apologies for the inaccurate information and any consternation that it may have caused.

Z Budapest is a icon of the feminist struggle. She did some very good things.

Unfortunately, she has fought so long and so hard that it has become an identity. Now, she has to find things to fight against. Last year, there was an official brouhaha and public condemnation over her barring of transgender women into her rite. She didn't learn her lesson.

This time, she wrote in the PROGRAM that only genetic women are allowed in her rite. Why Pantheacon chose to allow this is anyone's guess. I will await a statement from them.

In my opinion, if you feel that you are trapped in the wrong gender body, you have my sympathy. I cannot imagine what that must feel like. As one human to another, if you are in pain over that, I am sorry for your plight. Further, if you go so far as to get a LopItOffOfMe or a AddItOnToMe then I will call you whatever you want me to. You are man or woman as you choose. Anyone that has gone that far has more than earned the right to be who he or she is.

I will let others justifiably condemn Ms. Budapest's hatred. I am sure there will be more.

I would like to praise the protest movement. They held a silent protest outside the venue. They were classy. There was no shouting. There was no disruption of the Budapest rite. People simply made a point that they felt what was occurring was wrong. Pantheacon are you listening?

There was something more impressive. I walked past the sitting protesters to take the pictures I've included here. The energy they were sending out was of such peace and love that I found it very moving. This was love in the face of hatred. The was peace in the face of martial power. This was Buddha calming the charging elephant. This was love. This was an example of Pagan spiritual achievement. This made me proud of my Pagan brethren.

May God and Goddess, The One or whatever each one of them believe in bless these people. They are the face of Paganism. They did it right.

That said, and here is where I will get in trouble, Over at One Witch's Way, this statement was made of Pantheacon, "How can you purport “Unity in Diversity” and yet support public rituals that are exclusive at your public event?"

My question is how can you follow that with this from the same page, "Now, let’s break this apart for a second.  I am a woman.  I was born female.  I am all for women only space and women only ritual.  I am also all for men only ritual space.  Hell, I’d be all for transgender only space if it was desired.  Why?  Because we all have our own Mysteries related to gender and gender identity to explore and we have the right to explore those things and honor them in private space.  But this is something that should be done in private space, not at a public event."

This is just like saying, "Why not have a whites only club? Let's the the blacks have one too. See, we are not bigots. We just want to be with our own." The fact that you may have a legal right to do something doesn't make it right.

Years ago I was in a women's studies class in college. They had discussion groups that discussed things that "men didn't understand." They segregated the groups by gender. Yeah, try reading that again. In order to discuss things men didn't understand, they had to separate us to make sure the men in the class didn't understand. The claim was that women did not feel comfortable speaking of things in front of men. Apparently, though, they felt free to criticize men for not understanding what they would not share. Um...what?

While I fully agree with the writer there are some mysteries that men have that women do not and visa versa. However, I have a Pagan mindset. I am not embarrassed by my sexual parts, attitudes or anything else within a ritual circle. When gods are invoked within me, I am often sporting an erection. The women I work with  see that as a sign of His presence, not my perviness. They are not threatened. I am not embarrassed. None of these women have ever been intimate with me.

I am of the mindset that you can do anything you want. I will not stop you from performing your rite. I can claim to know nothing about your spirituality. However, in my opinion, keeping things gender only simply reinforces those things that keep us separate and ignorant. It panders to our fears so much that it exacerbates them.

One case in point is Budapest herself. Another occurred not long ago on the Pagan Blog Project page. a An invitation went out to women to join other women in a rite to fight the patriarchy. Within the thread, it was mentioned that there was some patriarchal war going on. A woman responded by saying how she feels sorry for the "women and children being bombed." To which I replied that I agreed. After all, those men deserved to be bombed. You know the husbands, sons and brothers of those women.

Of course, everyone backed up a step and said well we really don't mean it that way. They likely believe that. However, when you begin to separate from other humans based on your fears, anger and ignorance these sorts hurtful harmful things sneak into your mind. The best protection is to live free and without fear. Open honest sharing fosters the light. Hiding in the dark serves only the dark.

For a contradictory view of this post, please see WitchDoctorJoe's D is for Diversity. I am not sure how I can agree with him and what I have written here but I do.


8 comments:

Rowan Pendragon said...

With my comments that you quoted you might be missing a bit of the point. First of all, we're talking about exclusion at a public event. This is something that doesn't belong, period. But in private space, do what you will. There are most definitely spiritual Mysteries that are tide to gender that deserve to be explored in their own space of exclusivity. That may not be something that is part of your spiritual path but for many Pagans it is and they have every right (morally, not just legally) to do that. The true issue here, and fine point on my comments which you fail to mention, is that I do not feel this type of ritual and worship has a place in a public event. What is done in private ritual and what happens in public are not the same.

By your logic it seems as though spiritual groups aimed at specific genders, like the feminist line of Dianics, shouldn't have the right to allow only women in their tradition...other traditions that explore specific cultural mysteries and only allow people tied to those cultures shouldn't be allowed to exlude people of other heritages. Maybe only allowing family into a hereditary line would be considered wrong too!

In private we all have the right to worship as we choose. But when you host a public ritual it should be inclusive. This naturally also begs the question of why allow a woman only ritual in the first place, but that's what Z does and she's a fixture at these events. It's a skyclad ritual as well, and women and girls do all ages are admitted, so it only makes sense to be woman only. It's the "genetic women only" part that stings at a public event.

Robert said...

"he true issue here, and fine point on my comments which you fail to mention, is that I do not feel this type of ritual and worship has a place in a public event. What is done in private ritual and what happens in public are not the same."

I am sorry you feel that way but I did mention that by directly quoting you. I used this quote, ""Now, let’s break this apart for a second. I am a woman. I was born female. I am all for women only space and women only ritual. I am also all for men only ritual space. Hell, I’d be all for transgender only space if it was desired. Why? Because we all have our own Mysteries related to gender and gender identity to explore and we have the right to explore those things and honor them in private space. But this is something that should be done in private space, not at a public event." So I am not sure how you can say I ignored your point or took it out of context.

You further state that, "By your logic it seems as though spiritual groups aimed at specific genders, like the feminist line of Dianics, shouldn't have the right to allow only women in their tradition" Well, I thought I covered that by saying this, "I am of the mindset that you can do anything you want. I will not stop you from performing your rite. I can claim to know nothing about your spirituality."

As for skyclad being a woman only thing, I so disagree and have made that point previously in this space.

Ruadhán J McElroy said...

Further, if you go so far as to get a LopItOffOfMe or a AddItOnToMe then I will call you whatever you want me to.

But only then? About 2/3 of trans men don't get "the surgery", so you're apparently insisting a lot of men are "really" women.

Robert said...

Please don't go looking for a reason to be mad. I am pretty clear that I have no problem with whatever version of sexuality you have.

Ruadhán J McElroy said...

You're actually only being clear that you think "the surgery" is what makes trans people the genders we say we are.

Robert said...

Well then I suggest you don't read the next post because I made it even more clear. However, I am sure someone will find some reason to take offense there too.

Ruadhán J McElroy said...

I did read your post.

Anonymous said...

It's no coincidence that Z Budapest's rhetoric reads like a broadside from the feminist movement of the 1970's. That is when her generation initially fulminated their life-long animosity toward transwomen, and that is why this is at root a dispute between generations.

For those interested in the actual source of Z Budapest's ritual beliefs, check out the decades-long controversy over the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. That is the culture she is attempting to insinuate into the Pagan world:

http://www.fuah.org/MWMF_press-statement.html