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  • 13 INT. STUDY - NIGHT
  • recurring motifs that are the focus of the show
    set the stage
    OPENING CREDITS!
    OK, maybe not just like; but inspired by…Digital Kitchen’s
    …just like
    “gateway from the real world…” (Kimmel, 2010, p. 3)
    “takes us from our living rooms and into the world of True Blood” (Kimmel, 2010, p. 17)
    quick-shot
    complex layers of imagery
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjooosDIFgQ
    True Blood credits in HD:
  • So here’s the
    PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and
    American Culture Associations joint conference, Science Fiction
    and Fantasy Area: Special Area: TRUEblood
    True Blood Reenacts the Goddess Persephone's Ordeal of Abduction and Rape...or Self-Directed Sexual Initiation? Opening a Vein on Woman-Centered Sexuality
    OPENING CREDITS
    WAITINGSUCKS
    NOW
  • YOU’re invited t‚ enter A world…
  • BON TEMPS…
    …WHERE BON TEMPS
    “A PLACE SMALL ENOUGH TO LET THE DRAMA BECOME HUGE”...FAR AWAY FROM THE SCRUTINY OF OUR EVERYDAY THOUGHTS AND REASONABLY CAPABLE OF MYSTERY”
    IN RURAL L‚USIANA
    “A CERTAIN FEAR AND DARKNESS”
    “A PLACE CROWDED WITH GHOSTS”
    RACIAL LYNCHINGS
    23 CIVIL WAR BATTLES
    (rogers, 2010, p. 48)
  • IS THE
    setting for
    (
    A modern-day EPIPHANY
    of the Demeter-Perseph‚ne MYTH
    “About myths, it is striking that the same myth can refer to either initiation or sacrifice, to natural maturing as well as to the most unnatural violence” (burkeRt, 1996, p. 75)
  • inTwo TRUEblood sexual story arcs
    one centered on Tara Thornton…
    …the other on Sookie Stackhouse
    …both culminating in scenes featuring a white nightgown reminiscent of a wedding dress
  • THE characters & themes of perseph‚ne’s mythology “like they are real, not just an archetype or a symbol, but a psychic force still making their way in the world today” (ward, 2006, p. 146)
    WE viscerally enc‚unter
  • each of these story arcs – which bear both similarities and marked differences
    res‚nate in different ways with the classic story of descent, death and rebirth from 7th-5th century BCE (austen, 1990)
    …both versions of it
  • THE WELL-KNOWN PATRIARCHAL GREEK VERSION OF PERSEPH‚NE’S ABDUCTION AND RAPE (austen, 1990)
  • …AND THE FEMINIST IMAGINING OF THE ORIGINAL
    PRE-OLYMPIAN SACRED STORY IN WHICH THE
    G‚DDESS HAD A FREE AND JOYOUS SEXUALITY
    (gadon, 1989)
  • Produced
    as
    A VISUAL, multimodal, experiential TALK
  • Cycling between TRUEblood and the mythology it enlivens, we’ll look at a few standout elements ‚f both carnal encounters & explore the charged concepts and themes of SEX and sexuality THEY ILLUMINATE
    ***
  • Virginity
    sex-roles & stereotypes
    Pleasure
    Initiation
    the erotic
    Violence, dominance and rape
    attitudes toward sexually autonomous women
    the sacred sexual
  • disclaimer
    talk contains mature images & content reflecting its pr‚vocative and adult themes
  • BILLY id‚l
    (“white wedding”)
    Music by
  • N‚ COPRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED
    all rights to TRUEblood belong to HBO, credit is ascribed to sites where images appearing here were originally found
    Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use
  • Perseph‚ne’s mysteries confront us with the divide between Goddess and patriarchal consciousness
  • Drawing upon 800,000 years of art;
    a collection of the world’s images of the sacred feminine – both archaic & contemporary - Chosen for visual impact and cross-cultural perspective
    *clusters of art feature a representative piece sketching its historical, archaeological, mythological & anthropological context, all other figures are indexed
    And myth, histories, and poetry; prose, chants, guided meditations & ritual to help you experience this talk inwardly & respond with feelings and imagination
  • contextualize modern notions about sex & gender revealed in TRUEblood within the shift from egalitarian to dominator societal structure
    We WILL
    explore w‚man and sex-positive cultures
    Identify models for sexual and b‚dy sacrality – both female and male
  • BASED ON
    ANALYIS & CREATIVE SYNTHESIS
    OF TRUEblood SEASONS 1 & 3
    LITERATURE REVIEW IN WOMEN’S STUDIES, POP CULTURE, MYTHOLOGY, RELIGIOUS STUDIES, HISTORY, 19TH CENTURY & CONTEMPORARY FICTION
    AND
  • TALK – INCLUDING PAPER WITH CITATIONS, POWERPOINT WITH HYPERLINKED TEXT & IMAGES AND ARTW‚RK INDEX – IS AVAILABLE AT:
    WWW.PIERCEDPOMEGRANATE.BLOGSPOT.COM
    WRITTEN AND DIRECTED
    BY
    IN LEUI ‚F
    HANDOUTS
    (GREEN IS GOOD!) !)
    RACHEL e. seiler
    lmsw, ph.d
    Rachel.Seiler@hotmail.com
  • STOP
    hit escape and re-start PowerPoint from next slide
  • Persephone’s myth plays out in “a working class, Bible-belt bayou” (Poole, 2010, p. 76)
  • “a shift in the human condition as fundamental as the expulsion of
    Adam and Eve from the
    Garden of Eden” (Ward, 2005, p. 69)
    a social reality of many women’s
    lives under the emerging patriarchy (Gadon, 1989)
  • shifting root metaphor from mechanistic to web and ecosystem metaphors
    shifting root metaphor from mechanistic to web and ecosystem metaphors
    Systems thinker Sally Goerner (2001) suggests a speedy rethinking is crucial because
    we can destroy ourselves more rapidly and more thoroughly than at any other time in history.
    transdisciplinary theorists call for paradigm shift
    (Morin & Kern, 1999; Nicolescu, 2002; Plumwood, 1993; Wilshire, 1990); a new vision to replace the dichotomous thinking forming
    the bedrock of modern society & its many ills.
    The “great turning” thesis
    self-generated metamorphosis; civilization
    transforms as a result of pressure, pushing from inside-out.
    from mechanistic to web metaphor
    paradigm shift underway
    we are reaching critical mass
    (Goerner, 2001)
    The Goddess is reappearing in our midst as a symbol of healing necessary for our survival – a transformation of consciousness that
    holds promise of renewal (Gadon, 1989)
    • the earth’s fertility
    • the agricultural cycle
    • woman’s life cycle *initiation & sexuality
    • the natural intimacy of the mother-daughter relationship
    • the primordial union between life & death
    *my main focus
    overlaid tale of kidnap and rape obscures
    original theme: “the flowering of daughter’s gentle nature into
    compassionate womanhood” (Gadon, 1989, p. 150).
  • knowledge of a different kind (than what is the case and what is true) – tales call for empathy.
    “The tale is the form through which the complex experience becomes communicable” (Burkert, 1996, p. 56).
    “something that never was and always is”
    ~Jean Houston (Mendel, 2009, p. 17)
    the organic truth of the mythic tale
    archetypal relevance
    exists in temporal construct; imaginal realm in which new forms evolve
    (Mendel, 2009)
    a cosmology; a form of condensed
    history summarizing centuries of social, political and economic change in one story
    teaching devices which transmit the values of
    a culture; because they are alive they change to meet the needs
    of the people (Austen, 1990).
    Tara& Sookie’s story arcs illustrate dynamic tension of an evolving mythology for our times; which path/pole will we choose RE: the representation of power, control, sexuality, the feminine, the masculine in our culture?
  • The Maiden’s Tragedy
    female puberty initiation is at the heart of this “female fairytale”; stories in this category exhibit the same basic structure and clearly parallel motifs. Pattern differs from the heroic quest and follows a sequence reflected in Persephone’s myth.
    (Burkert, 1996)
  • “Begging for pity and fighting him off, she is dragged into his golden chariot” (Homer, Hymn to Demeter, II. 11. 19-20 in Gadon, 1989)
    note the wondrous, magical, glowing narcissus
    that lured her into the trap
  • shades of “her uncle Hades” theme in Sookie’s arc - Uncle Bartlett
    Vicki Noble echoes Sookie’s abuse (which, since it wasn’t penetrative rape, Sookie minimized as “just touching”):
    “Women today are remembering their early sexual invasions. The father, stepfather, grandfather, brother, uncle – all the males who should be protecting young girls until they are old enough to leave the nest – are fucking them against their will,
    even before they have developed the will”
    “…modern women are determined to get out from under the devastation of these early childhood
    experiences” (1991, p. 194)
  • “secret clefts” (Spretnak, 1989)
    sacra
    vulva
    of archaic &
    living
    Indigenous
    cultures
    vagina-shaped fissure
    signifying rebirth
  • the brutality of male-female relations in patriarchal culture (Gadon, 1989)
    this is a revisionof older myths…
    Prior to the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (7th C. BCE)
    no mention of rape in the ancient cult of Demeter and her daughter, nor was there rape in the traditions antecedent to Demeter’s mythology (Spretnak, 1989).
    Mary Frank, PERSEPHONE, 1985
    The fragmentary reclining figure of Persephone
    with her great mane of hair is an image of
    devastation, a powerful expression of the mythic
    them of abduction & rape (Gadon, 1989)
  • Her companions seem to dance or wave as she disappears into
    a vagina-shaped chasm in the earth; in the right we see a highly sexualized flower sent up by the earth to lure Persephone.
    PERSEPHONE’S DESCENT, 2000 BCE. Drawing after painting on the inner surface of cup. Terracotta. Minoan. (Gadon, p. 147, 1989)
    vulva was 1st religious symbol, representing the doorway, entry to life, leave-taking at death (Noble, 1991)
    highly sexualized flower (s)
    to lure Persephone (Tara)?
  • Image may instead depict the maiden’s two companions gazing down a huge black cleft at Persephone in willing descent.
    floral decoupage mirror signifying youth and fertility?
    THE MAIDEN
    7th millennium BCE
    Catal Hüyük
    The Youthful Goddess
    is exuberant
    (Gadon, p. 28)
  • Minoan Crete
    cooperative culture
    egalitarian gender roles
    both men and women were
    frankly sexual; exalted in proud
    physicality (Gadon, 1989)
    civilization pulsing with, suffused, quickened by and with Eros…
    “feeling of deep connection to other people and all beings in the web of life” (Christ, 1997, p. 107); of which sexuality is a part
  • Contrast Tara’s flight away from her
    “lover” (captor)
  • Silbury Hill. Photograph. The Great
    Goddess Pregnant. Her womb is
    the mound, the mighty female’s body is seen in profile. Not meant to be viewed from a distance but experienced directly
    The early agricultural rites of Demeter in Crete were mimetic…the people magically evoked by their own actions the fertility of the earth. This magic probably included invocation, singing, dancing, and lovemaking.
    The people celebrated their own sexuality in harmony with the creative powers of nature, as natural, human and divine (Gadon, 1989, p. 158).
    May Day celebrations contain vestiges of
    the sacred sexual rites of the past; can we
    tap once again into this deeper level
    of connection and being?
    Gadon, 1989, pp.78-79
  • harpazein:
    “to seize, snatch, carry off,” a term usually reserved for acts of war or thievery; the assault is violent and Persephone is unwilling (Gadon, 1989).
  • Spretnak
    • the invasion and conquest perpetrated by war-like patriarchal tribes that ushered in the decline of Goddess culture (Spretnak, 1989).
    • a gradual decline in the status of women
    and the power of the Goddess*
    *perhaps triggered by advent of literacy which favored development of the left-brain and its linear-rational reasoning over the meditative, artistic interpretation of reality of goddess-centric archaic cultures like:
    Ice Age, Old Europe as described by Marija Gimbutas, Çatal Hüyük as described by James Mellaart, the pre-patriarchal Mediterranean, Near, & Middle East and Africa, etc. (Mendel, 2009)
  • whatever the impulse behind portraying Persephone as a rape victim, this violent twist was added as an overlay (Spretnak, 1989) obscuring the older woman-centered culture
    rock murals, clay and bronze pots, & countless figurines - which were in earliest human cultures almost exclusively female
  • Goddess = a symbol of immanence – not “a being somewhere outside of this world or a new belief system” (Starhawk, 1982, p. 11) or
    the opposite of male godhead.
    Life force, “all-that-is”; encompasses “the feminine – parts of whole missing , denied & suppressed in dominant culture – nurturance, compassion, sensuality, egalitarianism, emotions, the body & “the masculine” – balanced power, fierceness, rationality , etc.
    term “Goddess” applied here to images representing
    Ancestors, Spirits, other beings revered as
    Goddesses are in other cultures; used as it conveys
    the most power in the English language & to compensate for
    suppression of the Sacred Feminine (Austen, 1990).
  • key themes repeat on global scale: vulva signs, female figurines, ancestor megaliths, and ceremonial vessels in the form of women or female breasts.
    these recurring signs reflect spiritual
    concerns and ritual life of the people who created them.
    commonalities recur in artifacts of diverse archaic cultures; same patterns appear in more recent indigenous societies in the Americas, Africa, parts of Asia.
    http://www.suppressedhistories.net/
  • Lespuge Goddess
    France, C. 21,000 BCE
    Asherah
    11th-6th centuries BCE
    Israel/Palestine
    Acheulian Goddess – Golan Heights 800,00 yrs. old
    She pervaded…
    …truly lived amongst her people
    Great Goddess of Willendorf
    Europe, C. 25,000 BCE
    Imagine holding one of these Goddesses in your hand. Feel her roundness, the comforting security of it.
    Imagine carrying her throughout your day’s work…
    …on your travels, sleeping with her beside your bed, waking up beside her (Austen, 1990, pp. 4-5).
    For 25,000 years+ the female body was revered as sacred. How might living in such a culture make you feel about women? The world?
  • dismembered Goddesses; represent rupture from Goddess-centered world to “dominator” world of today. Dismemberment attributed to a male god who replaced the Goddess in every culture (Noble, 1991).
    Coyolxauhqui, Aztec Moon Goddess
    Slain by her brother
    new male Gods solidified authority in heavens, as did warrior-invaders on the ground, by abducting, raping and marrying women, priestesses, queens, or Goddesses of the region (Gadon, 1989).
  • Left: Mary Magdalene as prostitute, Donatello, 1454-55
    Right: Woman, The Devil’s Door
    12th C. CE, France
    “Do you not realise, Eve that it is you?
    The curse of God pronounced on your sex
    weighs still on the world. Guilty you must bear its hardships. You are the devil’s gateway, you desecrated the fatal tree, you first betrayed the Law of God, you softened up with your cajoling words the man against whom the devil could not prevail by force. The image of God, Adam, you broke him as if he were a plaything. You deserved death, and it was the son of God who had to die!”
    (Tertullian)
  • Sex = original sin
    (Stone, 1976)
    Virulence of Church’s enforced celibacy erupted in the burning of 9 million women in Europe, the Inquisition, the Malleus Maleficarum…
    “blaming of the flesh;”
    (Sanchez-Grant, 2008,
    p. 89). Female body as
    site of oppression;
    naturally unstable,
    deficient, unruly
    Left: THE WITCHES SABBATH
    German, 1510. brazen nakedness was a sign of witches' evil nature. Once held as sacred, female body now represented depravity
    …women accused of being “carnal” at the core, the source of every temptation for men, linked with evil, sin, & degradation (Noble, 1991)
    Adam = soul type, Eve = of the flesh (Stone, 1976)
    gendered hierarchical dualisms
  • father as virginity warrior
    (“the surprisingly progressive Bill of True Blood”
    As a teen in the 1950’s feminist writer Vicki Noble was shattered when her father accused her of being pregnant, since “on some unconscious level I must have been keeping my hymen intact for him” (1991, p. 196)
    Ms. Magazine blog post praised “the suprisingly progressive Bill of True Blood “ who, “Despite his reluctance to vamparent” is
    patient with his new vampire daughter and is a “nice trade from dad as quasi-virginity warrior”; he understands she is a sexual being & respects her relationship with Hoyt.
    http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/06/20/whos-the-best-vampire-dad/
  • In the Homeric hymn, Persephone is referred to as Kore until her return from the underworld. Kore is a young girl of initiatory age; synonymous with the Greek parthenos, “maiden, virgin” (Gadon, 1989).
    Helios, the Sun God, reveals the truth to Demeter about her daughter’s abduction, then tries to assure her there’s no need to be angry, Hades is a worthy son-in-law, a member of her own lineage
  • “We experience our collective annihilation repeatedly, psychically and physically, as a woman is raped every thirteen seconds in North America…” (Noble, 1991, p. 3).
  • physical rape of women paralleled by rapacious attitudes toward the Earth itself…
    with unholy glee we enter “virgin” territory…she must be conquered, reduced, put in her place…The Earth must be entered, emptied, changed. She can be made to “yield up her secrets”. We will have from her what we need (Razak, 1991, p. 165).
    Rape as dominant social and cultural metaphor for behavior
    primary model for the interactions between developing nations and the dominant Euro-Western cultures
    this link is shown in the myths of Persephone and of the Japanese Sun goddess Amaterasu (Austen, 1990).
  • “When Franklin wanted to make Tara into his Vampire Bride he went into the King’s vault of precious period clothing at the Mansion and swiped this gorgeous Victorian nightgown for Tara because it resembles a wedding dress”.
    http://www.ancientpythoness.com/2010/10/02/
  • 1880s & 1890s phenomenon in England – the New Woman; she
    sought equal legal standing, greater economic opportunities, political
    equality, and sexual emancipation (McCabe, 2010).
    “Sookie actualizes…a fully developed erotic life” (Hirschbein,
    p. 125)
    “True Blood sends a sex-positive message, at least on the
    surface…Sookie’s growing sexual self-confidence is a central theme of the show’s first season” (Cranton & Jonell, 2010, 114) p. 114).
    Gibson Girls
  • “Dracula”aroused dormant passions of 19th century English women raised to subjugate their own needs. Affinity between vampiric and female sexuality suggested; both represented as primitive and voracious, both threaten patriarchal hegemony.
    The Count’s worst sin may have been not only rendering women capable of enjoying sex, but transforming them into sexual aggressors (McCabe, 2010).
    The legends of Innana contain some of the most erotic, female, and eros-positive literature known; the words of her female attendants reflect an intimate and possibly sexual relationship with the Goddess’ body (Austen, 1990).
    she’s described as “dominant partner” in sacred marriage; brings her lover to her own house, is asked as the Queen of Heaven to allow him to enjoy long days at her holy lap (Gadon, 1989).
  • Sookie’s no Virgin Mary, i.e. “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38)
    Issues/concerns RE: her relationship with Bill aside…she’s initiated on HER OWN TERMS
  • fire & warmth
    -VS-
    weapons of war
  • blooming or blunting of female sexual pleasure
    Australian Aboriginal story - females with clitorises so long they drag on the ground are the most active characters. When men win power, they shorten the women’s genitals. Interestingly, the clitoris is the only organ whose sole function is pleasure. (Austen, 1991)
    Noble
    Middle Eastern clitoridectomies; American girls who masturbated were subjected to the same by the gynecological establishment (Noble, 1991).
  • lesbian pleasure celebrated when it’s
    a product for male consumption…003).
    …and redeemed through male participation. If the women do not conform to stereotypically “feminine” standards of beauty, their desire for each other is repulsive and a threat. Lesbianism is acceptable only given a phallocentric logic; without a penis, there is no “real” sex. From a heterocentric perspective, lesbian fetishism is not about actual female-to-female desire but about a cute show for male consumption (Rivera, 2003).
  • VIDEOsexual consciousness; the forbidden fruit
    Persephone’s Pre-Olympian initiation would have been fertile in that it was a complex, transformative experience
    Death, life, male, female and, above all,
    the irrepressible power of reproduction—all are found in the image of
    the pomegranate seed. It is this seed that Persephone takes within
    her body—literally incorporating it into her own being. With this seed,
    she becomes a new person: whole, mature, fertile, and infinitely more
    complex than before. Having tasted it, she has crossed a barrier from
    which there can be no turning back. (Gadon, 1989, p. 159)
  • The Erotic = celebration & pleasureShakti is the Sanskrit term for the erotic as female life force (Austen, 1991).
    Sexually sovereign goddesses alive with Eros:
  • women empowered with the erotic are dangerous (Lorde, 1989);Lilith’s exile for her sexual independence – emblematic of the Judeo-Christian suppression of women (Austen, 1991).
  • The erotic misnamed, made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation (Lorde, 1989); perverted by ideas associated with pornography (Martin, 1995).
    In Euro-Western culture, the erotic denigrated and relegated to so few areas of life that its remaining expressions are overloaded & distorted (Austen, 1991).
    We are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex – and to take the true eroticout of our sex.
    “…to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings” (Lorde, 1989, p. 211).
    How would our society differ for men and women if the erotic’s true psychic and emotional components were fully integrated in our lives?
  • “Persephone’s story (pre and post-Olympian AND Tara and Sookie’s) tells of death and re-emergence, “both in the natural world and in our own psyches”,“process of soul-making” (Austen, 1991, p. 72).
    Tara as living 19th century author Margaret Fuller’s theme of “having been her own Redeemer, if not her own Creator”…
    …”creative spiritual force of awakened womanhood” “regenerate and self-reliant womanhood”, (Gatta, 1997, p. 34)
    “woman’s capacity for fecundity and self-reliant renewal” (p. 36)
    Women are choosing to heal ourselves from the world illness of Patriarchy.
    We have no choice. We are having a collective near-death experience,
    and the blinding light of it is showing us how to transform our lives” (Noble, 1991, p.6).
    female shamanism, a gradual mastery of oneself, and a healing or recovery from the chronic
    dis-ease of our time.
  • Sookie-as-virgin
    19th C. American literature of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harold Frederic, Henry Adams, T.S. Eliot
    Themes:
    • “mystique of surpassing purity and latent sexuality”
    • Beautiful Charmer; chaste and more or less free of desire though erotically alluring to others
    • The Divine Woman as Minister and Mediator toward sinful man (Bill professes she is “his miracle” who allows him to once again contact his humanity)
    • a binary vision with no middle ground: Eve and Mary, Vixen and Virgin, “either sacred beyond belief, or whores from the pits of hell”. (Parlour, 2009, p. 3, ¶2).
  • alternativeview of virginity - whole unto oneself; sexual autonomy is a reflection of political freedom (Austen, 1991).
    “virgin” goddesses: Diana/Artemis the Huntress, Kwan Yin,
    Diana/Artemis of Ephesus
  • Tara as Shakti Woman, deep Feminine and Dark Goddess
    …”feeling the call of the Dark Goddess – the deep, serious will-to-live…” (Noble, 1991, p. 7)
    Black woman in Ntozake Shange’s play sang “i found god in myself / and i loved her / i love her fiercely”
    end of Season 3 - a new Tara, leaving Bon Temps. Is she reasserting her female life force; the need for black femaleness in a culture that devalues blackness and femaleness?
  • Through the lens of gender AND race
    Tara and Sookie’s arcs may be answering to stereotypes of black life
    as primal, sexual, violent.
    “A female’s dark looks diminish her femininity” (Rivera, 2003, p. 133).
    "white colonial society simply denied the 'rights of womanhood' to black slaves" (Abramovitz, 1996, p. 60) - particularly in the South.
    After the slave trade outlawed in 1808, inhumane "breeding" of slaves emerged.
    Threat of sexual assault from white masters and overseers was constant. Virtually all of the slave narratives contain accounts of the sexual victimization of slave women.
  • Slave narratives originally appearing in "We are Your Sisters: Black Women in the 19th Century" by Dorothy Sterling, documenting rampant (sexual) abuse
    Ma mama said that a nigger 'oman couldn't help herself, fo' she had to do what de marster say. Ef he come to de field whar de women workin' an' tel gal to come on, she had to go, He would take one down in de woods an use her all de time he wanted to, den send her on back to work. Times nigger 'omen had chillun for de marster an his sons and some times it was fo' de ovah seer.
    I don't like to talk 'bout dem times 'cause my mother did suffer misery. You know dar was an overseer who use to tie mother up in the barn wid a rope aroun' her arms up over her head, while she stood on a block. Soon as dey got her tied, di block was moved an' her feet dangled, you know, couldn't tech de flo'. Dis ole man, now would start beaten' her nekked 'til the blood run down her back to her heels. I asked mother 'what she done fer 'em to beat and do her so? She said, 'Nothin 'other dan 'fuse to be wife to dis man'.
    (Abramovitz, 1996, p. 64)
  • should not be seen only, or mainly, as victims. Despite slavery, black family ties persisted, and slaves, both men and women, resisted their subordination.
    …we must consider slavery’s legacy
    we see some of this in Tara's character development and story arc;
    • she is depicted as a strong self-educated woman
    • she has directly challenged men
    • Bill over the issue of slavery in his family
    • Sam over what she perceives as his racism in their sexual relationship
    • Andy and Bud over what she views as illegitimate police power
    Might her sexual relationships be problematized in part due to the history of female slave's sexual exploitation by white men- especially given Franklin - her rapist and captor’s - racial identity?
  • new/old models for sex and body sacrality – both female & male
    “Restoring the erotic…is a political act…
    …There are many sex-negative attitudes in straight, gay, and lesbian culture.
    …To experience dynamic relatedness and to integrate one’s sexuality and spirituality are huge contributions to the evolution of life-affirming consciousness”
    (Martin, 1995, pp. xi-xiii).
  • Self-Blessing Ritual
    In a culture that associates women’s bodies with prurience – a morbid sexual desire; a propensity to lewdness, animal, marked by an appetite or passion of the body - we can come to a self-possessed, resacralized carnality of the female body through the concept of the self-blessing ritual.
    “It is a woman’s own self-blessing on herself; her own divinity is honored in a ritual with herself. It is a self-affirmation…” (Budapest, p. 269).
    No division between the mundane and the sacred; we don’t need someone else to mediate our experience of the divine. In this, we are virgin – whole unto ourselves.
  • “Z., how can you allow biology to become destiny again?” (p. 271).
    (re)sacralized female body and sex
  • Use images to:
    • Picture goddesses in public places or in your living room, or that you make offerings to them daily, as people have done throughout time.
    • Try somatic research; take the pose of a Goddess to find out more about her qualities and what she conveys.
    If physically difficult, do as
    much as you can, or use imagination.
    Try moving as she might move, speaking what she might say. Let yourself become her; let her become you (Austen, 1990).
  • We need new images of masculinity (Christ, 1997)
    Many men uncomfortable with our culture’s image of male heroes as warriors,
    conquerors of women and nature.
    Growing number of men (i.e. writers Ralph Metzner, Tim Ward, etc.) have discovered
    in the civilization of the Goddess a vision of a culture that affirms their
    search for a “non-warring, non-dominating social system” (Christ, 1997, p. 7).
    Rasak (1991) suggests that in a society that wishes us to see men as devoid of all feelings, let us hold an image of men as nurturers:
    “Nurturing is not a genetically feminine attribute. Tears and laughter are not the province of women only. The last time I looked, men had tear ducts. They had arms for holding babies. They cared about their children. And they cried at births. Let the shared experience of childbirth reclaim the human soul” (pp. 94-95).
    • what IS The Masculine, what IS The Feminine - can they be rigidly defined, or are their boundaries porous?
    Alan Ball wants Lafayette to embody the masculine AND the feminine. ..
    Terry Bellefleur, self-described as "a nurturer"; an odd juxtaposition with his military background
  • In conclusion…
    • Talk was not meant to be exhaustive or authoritative
    • Aim was not to to
    • idealize women over men or to paint broad brushstrokes
    • romanticize or appropriate other cultures
    ...no culture represented here is perfect, virtually all from 3,000 BCE to present have overlays of patriarchy and its attendant ills: sexism, racism, colonialism, classism, homophobia, etc. (Austen, 1990)
    • call for a retreat to the past.
    …although many scholars of archaic Goddess-based cultures agree that
    they showed all the signs of peaceful egalitarianism - as Gadon
    (1989, p. 377) writes, "We cannot - would not - wish to return to
    some golden prehistoric age; but in reclaiming our lost heritage we can
    build upon the values encoded in the prehistoric survivals".
  • Please accept my deepest gratitude for attending my presentation and for being such a wonderful audience!