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You know, if there’s one thing I do not get about movements for gender equality lately it is…that they’re so very unequal.

I suppose the best examples of this would be Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and He For She championed by Emma Watson. For those unfamilure with these two initiatives, it basically comes down to this:

Women have climbed far in the name of gender equality, but now, as we reach the last hurdles, there is a problem. Women, who are supposed to be the equals of men in every way, capable of anything a man can do (or more capable to hear some speak)…can not make it over the last hurdles themselves. They need men to either step aside, or raise them up, so that equality can be achieved.

That’s right. Women cannot achieve equality without the labor of men. Men need to step up, lean in, and support/carry women over the finish line.

he-for-she-1So, you know, given that I was raised to believe that women were as capable of anything as men are, I have to admit some confusion as to why it is women are…suddenly not capable of doing what men do. Also a bit confused as to why, in order to achieve equality, men apparently have to sacrifice their own desires to make way for the desires of women, based solely on gender. I mean, could you imagine asking a bunch of women to step aside and let some men in to accomplish their male dreams?

I’m pretty sure that would be called sexist.

And yet, apparently, sexism is alive and well in Heathenism….well, at least the Troth’s branch of Heathenism…if you choose to believe Mainer74’s latest piece: Women in Heathenry

Honestly, I don’t know what it is about Mainer74, but he and I just keep seeming to smash heads. And I’m sure he’s going to insisting I’m misunderstanding him again, like I did when he talked about how rape was an issue of men’s honor (because the honor of all men is besmirched by any rapist), and then again when he decided to signal his virtues by attacking the AFA over traditional gender roles.

for-muhHuh, seems there’s an issue over gender and sexuality stuff here. I wonder if that’s because Mainer74 presents himself as some kinda “alpha” where as I tend to fall into the “sigma”* category…huh, thoughts for another time.

anyways, I’m not going over the full post, just gonna talk about a few parts here. I’m skipping his first paragraph because it’s nothing more than base virtue signalling and dear gods, I am tired of that talk. We get it, you’re a good person who believes the right things and says mea culpa in all the right places. Which is why I never signal my virtues. Honestly, to hear most people talk, I don’t even have virtues, and frankly I’m fine with that. They seem kinda shitty.

Of all the communities, and sadly I must definitely include my beloved Armed Forces, Heathenry was the one that did the best job of accepting men and women equally and in all the myriad expressions of their femininity…

You know, reading this I can’t help but ask: “what about the myriad expressions of their masculinity” but given that we’re dealing with a post that is pretty much “He for She,” written by a guy who screamed at the AFA for “embracing traditional gender roles” after having ranted about “men need to step up and kill rapists so that women know we’re here for them” I’m just going to throw up my hands and guess that masculinity is toxic.

toxic-masculinity

Inside Heathenry, in each and every Heathen community I have been invited into I have been amazed, not by the men, half of them I knew before in some capacity, but by the women who were so far beyond the norm in their hundred different competences that I walked away with both a right and wrong though paralleling in my brain.  I was struck by how amazing our women are (true) and how by gods, we must be getting it right to have so many outstanding women among us (sadly, not as true as I wanted it to be).

Well, let’s be honest, the Germanic and Norse cultures were some of the most sexually egalitarian in the world until the modern era. In some ways, they even surpass the modern era depending on what standards you judge by. It is little wonder then, that women would have the opportunity to be as successful as men inside the religious groupings known as Heathenism.

That being said, Mainer is part of the Troth, a universalist branch of Heathenism often influenced by either Enlightenment ideals…or more recently… Progressive (Marxist) ideals when it comes to ideas about equality, ethnicity, and several other areas. Which are a different standard of ideals to judge by than, say, the ancient ones. This is not inherently bad in and of itself, but it is something to keep in mind when judging the “success” of your “equality.”

For example, there’s the Enlightenment ideal of equality, which is equality of opportunity. And there is the Progressive ideal of equality, which is equality of outcome. Going through this post it is pretty clear from Mainer’s own words that the former has been achieved. In Heathenism (at least as far as the Troth goes) there is a complete equality of opportunity for women.

However, Mainer is upset because what his groups lack is equality of outcomes.

What they (the best, brightest, most successful women in his community) had to say about my community was an eye opener.  For one thing, they accepted much that I find unacceptable, and they have had to.  They have had to accept that their voices are more easily ignored less often sought than men of lesser accomplishment and status.  That for all their achievement and status, when their gender becomes an issue, every other source of status and worth somehow can be ignored.  That is horse sh*t.  I would love to say it was an aberration of one generation or one region.  I would. I can’t. I got that response from both coasts, Canada, the US, from the south, centre, and north.  We are getting it wrong.

In equality of outcome. For whatever reasons, it seems, the Men are more respected, more listened to, more trusted, etc. I’m sure some would consider this “male privilege” or something like that. But regardless of what it is, or why it is, it presents something Mainer can not abide.

Now, I’m not a part of his community, but lately the Troth has seemed to pride itself on being one of the most open, inclusive, liberal (Progressive) Heathen organizations out there that is for everyone regardless of identity. So I’m sure this has got to smack him in the face like a rotten fish. Especially after howling at the AFA for their “traditional gender roles” approach to Heathenism and their apparent desire to live by the traditional Germanic model. I know we’re not Christians, but there is some wisdom with splinters and logs in the eyes to be found here.

Still, this could also be an issue with who he polled. He seems to have gone for the biggest and brightest female names in his community (no word about outside his Heathen community, so I don’t know if women like Krasskova were solicited), while ignoring lesser known women. I’m sure he had his reasons.

Aha!  Not all women felt as equally disadvantaged.  What is their secret?  How is it that they are able to better navigate the waters, perhaps there is something I can share to make it easier for the next generation of Heathen women!  Except the ones who did the best described themselves either as gender-fluid, or flat our said they socialize more as men than women.

curse-youOh look at that, a religion based on a culture that prized manliness above everything else has a tendency to respect those who act in a manly fashion regardless of their gender. Well, ain’t that just a mother loving surprise.

I mean sure, there’s a lot of stereotypes about how “manly the vikings were” and all that, but those stereotypes are pretty true. I mean, everything from the Sagas to TV with our Norse culture is about strength, bravery, bullheadedness, and the absolute willingness to jam your foot in the door, headbutt your way inside, grab a horn of mead in one hand, an axe in the other, and roar out why everyone should listen to you in the loudest voice you can so…people will take you seriously and listen to you.

So…basically be Thor.

At one point Mainer talks about how there’s no wrong way to be a woman in Heathenism, that the various Goddesses we have give us legitimacy to all kinds of feminine identity and expression. You can be a homemaker like Frigg, a healer like Eir, a bon viviant like Freya, you can be a queen like Hel, and so on and so forth. There’s no “right way” or “wrong way” to be a woman in Heathenism…but that also presents an issue. How can you tell who is a “good woman” when there’s no absolute standard?

Which might be why Heathens default to “manly behaviors” when trying to judge good. There’s really only one, maybe two ways to be a “good man” in Heathenism. Follow the example of Thor, maybe you can occassionally get away with being cunning like Odin (but beware cause a trickster can’t be trusted and that could cost you respect and honor). If you look at the other Gods in Heathenism, it’s all about how “manly” they are with Thor being the Manliest. Heck, a lot of Gods get pushed down the respect ladder because they’re not up to the same standard as Thor. Think Frey, who in lore and life is often judged lesser after he traded his sword for love. He gave up his “manliness” to be with a woman. And now he is maybe a tier two God at best when it comes to worshipers. Hel, these days he falls behind Loki in a lot of places from what I’ve seen…and Freyr is supposed to be the God of Male Virility.

So, we have no “wrong way” to be a woman, but only one “right way” to be a man. And everyone is going to judge by the simplest standards on who is living up to the culture. In this case, it’s “manliness” because regardless of gender it’s easy to see how well someone is living up to the benchmark.

Is it any wonder then that women might have more success kicking asses and taking names (being manly)? I don’t think so. For example, I don’t always agree with Krasskova, but I will admit she is one of the manliest heathens I know on the web. And of this virtue she can be justly proud. Being “manly” in Heathenism is merely like being virtuous in the Cultus. It’s how you’re upholding the culture.

This isn’t to say that femininity is bad, but the virtues of womanhood traditionally have been more peaceful…which do not always work well in a society based around war and trying to survive it (even if it’s just war against the elements and Jotuns). And when the “virtues of womanhood” are so scattered about as to encompass anything and everything…that would be like trying to measure with a ruler where every inch was a constantly changing different length.

I am remembering a man I worked for, a well respected leader, pulling me aside and letting me know that I had to “handle” a woman in the community as she was “emotional and high strung” yet he freely admitted the organization would have foundered on the rocks without her efforts many times.  She was treated not as an honoured part of the leadership, but as a high spirited horse to be kept happy in harness.  I remember at the time being disappointed with this, otherwise great, man.  Yet I smiled and nodded, taking from the conversation the fact that I was right in judging this woman’s importance and contribution and utterly wrong in my assessment of that particular leaders understanding of his own community.  I did not call him on it.  I think due to the politics of the moment, that was the best decision, but the fact he could speak so, and to me, with the expectation that I would think the same leads me to believe such an experienced leader must have cause to think so.

See, I want to comment on this but Mainer doesn’t give enough information. I’m not claiming the leader wasn’t in the wrong here, but Mainer paints a picture of a “sexist” man who refused to truly recognize and respect a woman’s contribution. Except I can’t help but feel there is more to this story, either than Mainer is telling us or than Mainer knows himself, based on personal experiences in the Pagan community around my area.

There’s one priestess in the area who was majorly instrumental in building the local community’s unity. With out her, it’s doubtful it would have existed in anything close to its present form. That being said, she could get very emotional and prideful, something that built fault lines in the community that expanded as time passed, her power grew, but her control weakened. It’s something you see in Christian churches in the area too. A Devout and Strong believer who manages to build up the religious community with passion and zeal….the same passion and zeal which then later threatens the very community if it is not contained and channeled. Zealots are great for building religions…they’re not so great at their maintenance, and part of me can’t help but look at Mainer’s example and think “emotional and high strung” quit literally meant exactly that…and it was getting to the point of being toxic to the community.

That’s just a theory though, based on personal experiences.

During the Bragaful, the round of boasting and bragging, I find the men in the community are using it properly, to share their struggles, to share their accomplishments and to dare themselves before the folk to set the bar higher, to grow and achieve what they must become, not rest where they are.  The women oddly need to be prodded and challenged to speak of themselves.  Often a woman who has a great accomplishment of her own I expect to hear about will speak instead of her pride in the accomplishment of another.  This is noble, but it denies them their glory, denies them the tool of the community’s empowerment.  I had thought, that the women were making a mistake, that they were not taking up the tools the ancestors left us.  That they only needed to be prodded a little to take their proper half of the glory that they have won for all of us.

The women who succeeded were the ones who acted “manly.”

If you do not boast your deeds, how will they be known? If you praise the deeds of others, they will be held in higher esteem. That’s just how it work in Heathenism (and in life). And Mainer’s right, it does deny them their glory…

But it is their choice.

And their choice is why they might not be held in as high esteem as say men of lesser deeds. After all, those men made their deeds known. The women did not. So the deeds of those men are known, and the deeds of the women are not. Then when you seek someone to perform a great deed, who would you go to? The one you know has done deeds, or the one whose deeds are unknown and unknowable because they did not speak of them.

I’m all for doing good deeds in the background, for their own sake rather than glory’s sake, but don’t start complaining then when no one knows of your works. And don’t whine about the fact that the deeds of others are unknown when they were not spoken of. That’s not sexism. That’s lack of publicity.

No.  What I was seeing was the acceptance of proud women that they will struggle on, doing their best for the community without any expectation of equal recognition.  They are Heathen women, they don’t cry, bitch or whine, they simply shake their head, pick up their tools and get back to the task at hand.  It is not for them to complain they do not get the glory that men would get for similar deeds.

Okay, that’s complete bullshit Mainer.

If they spoke of their deeds, they would have recognition. Hel, they might even have equal or superior recognition depending on the deed. But if they choose not to speak of their deeds, if they choose not to publicize their honor and be honored in turn, that is not them “accepting they will struggle without equal recognition.”

That is them either being damn fools, or not having the same desires you do. They have no right to get mad at not being recognized for their work if they do not speak of the work they do when it is time to speak of their deeds. If they will not Boast, they should not expect the Toast. And if they do expect praise when they have shown nothing worthy of praise to the public, but instead have worked in shadow, then they are entitled fools who expect everyone to just simply know their mighty deeds by sheer dent of “who they are.”

And that’s bullshit. Every man who boasts, every man who is recognized, has been so recognized because he said “I am So and  So, and this is what I have done.” It is not some male privilege, it is not some inherent sexism of the community. If you write a book, and do not advertise it, you cannot complain when no one knows about it. It is thus with any deed by any person. If you do not speak of it, none shall know about it, regardless of your sex or gender!

wtf

Heathens function on a meritocracy, mostly.  We are our deeds.  You do great things, you show us you are devoted to the community, a person that makes wise and frithful decisions, that has a strong commitment to building community, and you earn the chance to lead, so that people with those skills and commitment are making the decisions that will affect us all.

We aren’t getting the best though.  We are getting the best men, and the few among the best women who fought through the bullshit and survived; as long as they are able to sustain the fight to tear them down again for the crime of being a successful heathen woman.

What Crime!?

Going through and reading the whole piece, the entire “crime” seems to be that these women will not speak up for themselves and tell of their own deeds. But apparently, asking women to do the same thing as men to be successful is too much! It’s too much, Mainer says! Men need to do more, they need to lean in, and step up! They need to do the work these women refuse to do, so that women might profit from that work as men who did the work for themselves have profited!

Men need to carry women to glory because the women will not walk themselves to it.

he-for-she-2

The fix on this one is dead simple.  Guess what, I can even speak to the ones who need to change it. I speak the language.  I have a beard as big, and testicles as hairy as any other in this community.  I can thump my chest and shake my spear with the best of them, so here it goes…

spock-toxic-masculinityThere’s living Norse Masculine culture and then there’s aping it. I almost went with a gorilla meme here. Look, I don’t know how it is in the Troth, but when I float my way through the Folkish side of things I generally do not see this level of chest thumping machismo. It’s a bit cringe, to be honest.

Here’s the thing, it’s isn’t the size of one’s beard, or the hairiness of one’s balls that makes one manly. At least, not in Germanic Culture of old. Sure, those things might help, but Manliness was as much, if not more, about one’s deeds and one’s honor than it was about one’s testosterone levels.

Being willing to stand up, step forward, to do a thing and then have the courage and pride to speak about what you had done. That is what is manly. As I said, Krasskova is one of the manliest people I know of in the broader Heathen community because she stands up, she steps forward, she does things and she lets people know she has done these things. And as much as she is reviled by some, she is respected by others who then turn to her to either do a thing, or guide them on how to do a thing themselves. It doesn’t matter that she is a woman.

Manliness isn’t about bristling one’s beard and thumping one’s chest in a display of alpha male power like Mainer is doing. Oh, I know why he’s doing it, it’s because that’s how Alphas have always tried to intimidate weaker males into doing their bidding. But base animal behaviors aside…that doesn’t make the action Manly.

And in some ways, Mainer’s attitude here is counter productive. In pounding his chest and bristling his beard, he might manage to intimidate “weaker males” into following him on his crusade to obtain equality of outcomes for the women of his tribe. However, when it comes to me it’s about as effective as a bear bristling it’s fur and roaring at a Draugr.

You’re just gonna end up with a rather annoyed Draugr and a rather dead bear.

Not to mention as soon as other Alphas come into play, all they’re going to do is bristle their beards and pound their chests back (and that’s both male and female alphas). Because Alphas do not like to be challenged or controlled. That being said, Mainer has no options but to resort to emotionally based challenges to make people agree with him and see things his way…

Because factually he’s in the wrong. Women have chosen not to speak of their deeds. And so these women’s deeds are unknown. So when their deeds are not esteemed, it is their fault, their choice, and there is no sexism or disrespect towards these women.

Men in this community have to let go that Christian baggage about a woman’s place.  A woman’s place is where ever she sets her feet.  A woman’s job is whatever challenge she undertakes.  We are our words, we are our deeds.  I do not care if the voice that spoke the words is a pleasant alto or a raspy baritone.  I don’t care if the shoulder that pushed the wagon beside me had a long flowing beard draped across it, or the swell of breast upon it.  If they gave their strength to the task I judge them by the strides they took, and know from my own struggle to take those strides how to measure the effort they put in.  That is what matters, not the beard, or the breast, but the stride.

See, he’s pounding his chest and invoking “profane Christianity” to try and shame those who are not doing what he wants. “Do as I say, or you’re nothing more than a weak, ‘sexist’ Christian who does not uphold our ways.”

This is not a rational argument. This is not an argument based on reason or facts. This is an argument of emotion, determined to shame people into behaving how Mainer wants them to behave, to create the result Mainer wants created, despite the fact it goes against the very fundamental laws of nature:

The only things he’s shown are that women will not speak up to their own glory and that this has the effect that people do not honor the glory they do not know about! And That’s. Not. Sexism.

Men cannot change what they do not hear. They cannot respect what they do not know. I doubt men are even going around tearing down these successful heathen women for being successful or women. IF anything, given what Mainer’s written, it’s a bunch of successful women unhappy that their deeds are not acknowledged without having to talk about what they did. As he says “we are are words, we are our deeds.” And if you speak no words, you will not be heard. And if you are silent about your deeds, none will know them!

But apparently the fact that some women are silent is a mark against all men and against all heathenism, and Men are the ones who have to change it. Despite the fact that it is women doing/not doing something by their own will. Nope, men have to solve the problem, change the community, respect the deeds they never hear about and give power and authority to women who don’t talk about what they do, or why they should have that power and authority. Nope, it just needs to be handed over, all that power and respect, with absolutely no foundation other than these are “women” even if there are no known deeds of note by those women. Because they never talked about them. And Mainer is going to pound his chest, bristle his beard, and roar at all the men in his tribe until they do this.

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Which ultimately is going to make it look like a man will have to work hard, boast his deeds, and gain renown to be recognized, but a woman can just walk up and be handed them without any visible or spoken of work. Sure, she might have done a lot of things for the community, but no one talked about them, she never mentioned them, she just got handed the power because…woman, apparently. And we have to have gender equality of outcomes or else…bad. I guess. Or so it appears with Mainer’s community.

And what is with him assuming that it’s the men that are the problem, tearing down these women? Does the idea that other women might be tearing them down or enforcing gender traditions upon their sisters not occur to him? Or that women might lean towards going to a man for deeds to be done rather than to another woman? I mean, there’s a lot of evidence starting to show that a great deal of sexism in the modern world is by women against other women, so…why is he writing off part of his tribe’s responsibilities simply based on their gender?

Our ancestors started the “Boast and Toast” for a reason. It was so that everyone had the chance to make their name known to the community for what they had done. Equality of Opportunity. And if you do not take that opportunity that is your own damn choice and your own damn fault if people do not know you because of that choice.

A voice never used is a voice never heard.

 

Hela Bless


*The best way to describe a sigma male is that they have all the internal power and will of an alpha…but they give zero fucks about expressing that power and claiming external power the way an alpha does. It’s a bit like comparing great white sharks to alpha wolves or lions. All three are top predators, but where the wolf and lion invest a great deal of time in obtaining power, the shark merely lives its life unconcerned by such things on a day to day basis, engaging in power plays only as needed or desired.

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