Tuesday, June 11, 2013

There Is No God, and She's Getting Mad

This is a better world for women than the one I was born into.  But not nearly good enough.  A lot of brave women are standing up to systems that abused them, and that have resisted change.  That's not the route for all of us, but we all need to work on ourselves, standing up against the conditioning that tells us that to be feminine is to be nice and while our lives away.

Above, the archtypal scene from the Sistine chapel in which Old Man God creates A Man.  I would have liked to include the scene from the 1988 film Working Girl in which Melanie Griffith asks her best friend to cut her hair, saying a line something like, "If you want a serious job, you have to have serious hair."  Would that the TV weathergirls [sic] would learn that.

But we don't need to work on our hair any more than we already do.  We need to get easy-care cuts, like men, and get to work on our lives.  Our souls.  Our art.  On our work, whatever it is.  On sharing our gifts.  From what I see, a lot of woman-power is being wasted.

I got riled up earlier today reading a blog post by one of the beloved Masters [sic] in the Zen tradition.  It always makes me a little nervous to argue with Daddy.  Really.  I've met Rev. James Ford and followed his writing for years.  He is a deeply kind, generous man.  But I wanted to comment on his review of Brad Warner's new book, and I overcame my (conditioned?) hesitation.  So, here it is.  Dear James -
You write, "I also quibble with his masculine by preference language for God." I'm trying to think of the best verb to describe what I think of that, and how I feel about it.  I don't quibble with this.  Quibbling is mild.  I disagree vehemently. And I am discouraged to think you see it as a minor point.   Language matters.  It matters beyond mere theology.
It matters when we use "man" as if that word means "humankind."  That language grew up in a system men ruled (a time before birth control, may I note), a system that gave us "All men are created equal," which meant what it said: (white, landed) men were human, and had the right to vote; women were not, and did not.

The single thing most supportive of the patriarchal values that allow men with automatic weapons to shoot up our schools and deadlock our legislatures is the mythology of a powerful male God who, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, created a man first.  Then a woman, to serve.  Men rule. This is still true.  It is the single most off-putting thing about the Japanese Zen tradition for women like me - a meticulously drawn lineage of authority passed from one man to another, and thus to Brad Warner.
The choice of "He" to describe God matters.  The male God depicted above is the one who went on to give humans the authority to "fill the earth, and subdue it."  We're paying for that now.  Gaia is not subdued.
I've noticed in Zen and elsewhere, watching from the sidelines the way poets do, how men like the "bad boys," the rule-benders like Brad Warner.  Women need to cultivate that.  Instead of admiring Adele because she lavishes attention on her looks, we need to be admiring real women who are not worried about looking pretty and feeling pretty, but are doing their work.  There are plenty of admirable women on the barricades now, working to raise good kids, working in the arts and in politics, even, amazingly, in the male-dominated religious institutions, some of which offer us, at last, the chance to sit down and get real.
Below - a homage to Mother Jones, my personal saint, by two other admirable people, Utah Phillips and Ani diFranco


  1. Jeanne,
    I just found out my sister has Bilateral, Multifocal, Recurrent Renal Carcinoma. My guess most likely caused by the psyche drugs she took for mental illness for 30 years. And she planned on getting married at the end of the year.

    1. There really are no words adequate to this. We are always studying the problem of life and death, I mean it keeps rising up and hitting us. It doesn't wait around for a good time. I hope she and her fiancee can have some deep, meaningful time together as she travels this road.

  2. Melanie G. from Austin, TXJune 14, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Oh dear! Could this cancer have any more names?! Rising up and hitting us is an apt description. I hope the same for your sister and fiancee: deep, meaningful time amidst whatever rises up next. Oh, oh, oh...