Words by Sahar Mushin
Reflection: Where and What is the Sacred Masculine
I’ll share more on theological reflection in a future article because I believe it is essential in remapping the internal landscape. Many men who present a balanced and positive personality, often use the Sacred Feminine as a role model. Women seeking to assimilate to a masculine world, often manifest like the toxic masculine with overt yang presentation. It is a well studied phenomenon in social justice, where the oppressed becomes the oppressor. To prevent this, at the opportunity of freedom (agency/authority) a person must find few role models to emulate. A current point of theological reflection that I invite you into is ‘Where and what is the sacred masculine?’
Below are some terms that came to mind:
Men often feel emasculated by empowered women. In combination with the victim blaming culture, women are forced through a double standard, to be both nurturer and protector/provider. We are coming into a multi-generational holding pattern that, if uninformed on, cultivates an internalization of angry entitlement and often uselessness in men.
Women are conditioned to do all the jobs, at the same time men are conditioned to believe they deserve all the perks and the system is set to give these to them. This paradigm continues the status quo of subverting women’s authority.
This unconscious tendency in women to overfunction enables underfunctioning by men, and thus the cycle or feedback loop is maintained.
I heard once men and women are both afraid of one another. Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. And women are afraid that men will kill them. The #metoo crises has woken more people up to sexist oppressive lived reality of women in this culture and it is time for us to do better.
Get Educated. Get involved. Tend trauma. & Take a stand.
Given our culture has an epidemic of absent fathers, especially for people living at the intersections of oppression.
Religious and Scientific Argument for Sexual Diversity
Given that rape stems from shame around sexuality and entitlement, trained through patriarchal white supremacy, lets dig into some of the arguments used to oppress sexual diversity. Our task in social justice work is to “Focus on how boundaries, or restrictions are formed; and not just the boundaries or restrictions themselves.” This is an important point to remember for those taking the escapist perspective of saying naming the problem and engaging on theological reflection of it is somehow counter-productive.
I will attempt to bridge across multiple contexts in this piece. We always begin by defining terms including our own social identities. As a multi-religious mystic who self identifies as Taoist, I often speak of integration of duality or spectrum bridging. This becomes even more relevant to define when analyzing sexual diversity which clearly exists on a spectrum.
What is a Spectrum:
A condition that is not limited to a specific set of values but can vary, without steps, across a continuum. A term used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points
Examples of the two ends of a spectrum:
Within and without
Skepticism and blind faith
Science and spirituality
Monogamy and polyamory
Unity of diversity
Many spiritual traditions reference how to engage the spectrum. The middle way, internal alchemy of duality, or what I will refer to as Spectrum bridging – or integration of paradox: structurally integrated opposites that coexist.
Another integration of paradox I consider part of my pedagogy is that of religious context as internal alchemy life hacks for ascension, rather than dogmatic rules that oppress. This speaks to the subjective interpersonal interpretation of sacred text and context through intimate connection to the Source.
Making it Up as We Go Along – Legitimization of Authority.
A powerful question in conceptual realization of liberation is who is in charge, who made the rules, and what is their intended outcome? Is this drive being informed by a desire for inclusion and equity or complacent to status quo normative and exclusive agendas.
Sexual diversity finds itself typified in the cis hetero-normative and LGBTQI identification of individuals (gauged in some contexts through the Kinsey scale) as well as the spectrum between monogamy and polyamory. Within this fluid context of being there is a spectrum within a spectrum; this is the holographic nature of the microcosm and macrocosm. Monogamy for instance can be healthy or toxic, as well open relationships and serial monogamy form additional points on this spectrum.
Monogamy as defined through Disney
Humans are highly programmable mammals, who spend great lengths of time in front of the TV, often from birth. This trains a relational expectation that is off balance from a perspective of integrating paradox, because the dyad and nuclear unit is overtly propagandized.
Bowen’s emotional nuclear family systems theory is a great resource to see how stress disseminates in a unit when the participants are not self differentiated. One form being fusion, a term connoting enmeshment which can also be understood through the synonymous context of co-dependency or entanglement.
As a researcher interested in the changing context of relationship, I have surveyed quite a few people on this topic. Most women, both aware and unaware of the societal conditioning, believe in the fairy tale, and wonder when they’ll meet their “Prince Charming”.
Most people carry some form of trauma from dyadic relationships (whether or not they are still currently in one).
Many hetero-women supporting ongoing relationships speak to a certain amount of coddling their male partner’s ego to maintain harmony in a relationship; growth has often been abandoned. Many claiming polyamory are often uninterested in commitment, using this context as an escapist form of countering accountability. Those unyielding on equity and growth are often single and present with a giant looming question mark as to when the collective agreement on relationships will raise above subpar.
When upholding and thus deconstructing theories of hate and exclusion for sexual diversity there are two traditional routes religious and scientific. From Roughgarden’s Evolution’s Rainbow, “Same-sex behaviors are found in over 100 species, from apes to elephants, guppies to macaques.” Sexual diversity is a lived reality of nature, in the same way diversity is a sign of a healthy natural system in permaculture. Given theists belief that God created nature the logic follows that sexual diversity is God’s will.
As far as the Abrahamic religious traditions, the main reference in the Quran and Bible used to stigmatize sexual diversity is the story of the prophet Lot. Lot was warning and prohibiting same-sex rape. For Christians, an additional reference used in Leviticus, to suppress acceptance of sexual diversity appears close to the reference on no pork eating which most Christians have chosen not to adopt. These obscure references used to legitimize hate do a disservice to the main tenants of religions that claim to love your neighbor or to utilize compassion as your guiding force.
Historical use of medical industrial complex to further oppress non-normative people.
Given the power imbued in the medical industrial complex, reflecting on the potential detriment of legitimizing this authority is crucial. Intersex (1 in every 2000 born) babies though often not exhibiting the traits that identify to others their gender until puberty, are treated to sex changes at birth to quickly conform them to the binary. In medical history being gay was once considered a pathology treated at times through shock therapy and lobotomies, women were considered incomplete or underdeveloped men, and stereotypes about people of color were echoed in both medical textbooks and theories. Similarly, when studies are done (often funded by individuals or corporations with bias agendas) the use of cis-hetero-white male participants was primary and often exclusive for determining the medical context of all.
Aids was used as a means for some fearful and oppressive religious individuals to say God is punishing gays. From Peter Gardella’s Innocent Ecstacy, following the aids epidemic “Monogamy, or at least serial monogamy with safe sex, began to displace free love as the cultural ideal, among both straight and gay people.” After more than 300,000 children died from it that story has also changed.
I’m happy to see that religious interpretation is fluid, I just wish more people would take up thinking for themselves. This would serve to unlock more authentic heart centered interpretations, rather than exclusive hate filled mob mentality, from legitimizing some random patriarch’s authority. Want to reflect a bit longer on whether your “help” oriented job is supporting a system of oppression: http://paulkivel.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/rulingclassandbufferzone.pdf
More on Innocent Ecstacy from Peter Gardella
Mined from musicians like Madonna, innocent ecstasy, is a concept connoting reaching heightened levels of purity through ever new personal interpretation of religion and sex. Tantric in nature in terms of its true definition of “an attempt to place kama, desire, in every sense of the word, in the service of liberation… not to sacrifice this world for liberations sake” –David Gordon White
As always I invite you to put forth effort to subvert being complacent and dissonantly complicit.