“The idea of the supernatural as being something over and above the natural is a killing idea. In the Middle Ages this was the idea that finally turned that world into something like a wasteland, a land where people were living inauthentic lives, never doing a thing they truly wanted to because the supernatural laws required them to live as directed by their clergy. In a wasteland, people are fulfilling purposes that are not properly theirs but have been put upon them as inescapable laws. This is a killer…. The spirit is really the bouquet of life. It is not something breathed into life, it comes out of life. This is one of the glorious things about the mother-goddess religions, where the world is the body of the Goddess, divine in itself, and divinity isn’t something ruling over and above a fallen nature…. Our story of the fall in the Garden sees nature as corrupt; and that myth corrupts the whole world for us. Because nature is thought of as corrupt, every spontaneous act is sinful and must not be yielded to. You get a totally different civilization and a totally different way of living according to whether your myth presents nature as fallen or whether nature is in itself a manifestation of divinity, and the spirit is the revelation of the divinity that is inherent in nature.”

― Joseph Campbell
The Power of Myth

Image Credit: Josephine Wall

How Thedas’ Matriarchal Society Would Actually Work

And why it would be plausible to be different in Tevinter.

Hoo boy, I had a fun time discussing this with my friends the other day. Which this isn’t the final post for this, just one I had to get out less I forget this discussion entirely.

So as we all know Thedas is supposed be a matriarch society with emphasis of it in the Andrastian faith, BUT Bioware does a pretty shitty job doing that/showing it. So let’s begin from the beginning.

Andraste was the woman to unite all of Thedas against Tevinter’s harsh rule. She is worshipped and held in high regard in Thedas and especially in Andrastism. This is where the matriarchy and matriarchal ideals come from. This automatically holds women in higher regard in society, especially as warriors and leaders.

Women and their families would deeply seek to have first born daughters, much like Andraste who only gave birth to daughters. A family with mostly sons would likely give the woman legal cause to leave and disown her husband. A family with a first born son would, on an unspoken level, be seen as less influential and prosperous among society. Not to say men couldn’t be successful or rise, it is just harder for them and they may be questioned in places of power (see King Markus Pentaghast) This would mean that in situations like Calian/Anora, Calian would be heavily scrutinized as being the reason for Ferelden lacking an heir. Regardless of the high acclaim of his family and the Theirin line.

Speaking of Cailan, we know he slept around on Anora. This would bring him even more vitriol, as we know Maferath slept with a woman outside of Andraste and Maferath (and any metaphor for Maferath) tends to be looked down at. Since it was Maferath who betrayed Andraste to Magister Hessarian. In reality, Celene wouldn’t have even given Cailan’s offer a second look, because she would not seek to wrong the Queen of Ferelden. For an action like that would be seen as an attack on Ferelden, an insult to their Queen (Leading Woman) is an insult to their country. A good canon example of this is actually King Calenhad and Thedas during his time, a majority of the leaders and those of high acclaim were women, while when Calenhad cheated on his wife he was shunned from the throne by all of Ferelden.

Which it is due to the actions of Maferath and Hessarian, that men would be at a disadvantage. For it was those two men who brought Andraste down and men, out of greed and jealously, that drew the Maker’s ire and made him turn away his gaze.

Meanwhile, things are different in Tevinter and they have more of a patriarchal society with the Black Divine, and a majority of men in the Magisterium. As well as gender being an issue for them. One reason is obviously spite, because it is Andraste who caused their empire to fall. However, it also goes back to the time of Andraste. In their stories it is played up on how Hessarian was repentant, it was him who gave Andraste mercy in her time of anguish. He who showed compassion to the Maker’s lady. He who after Andraste’s death spread hers and the Maker’s word to Tevinter, who gave her a voice once more. This, coupled with the actions of his wife, Lady Vasilia (Thedas’ version of Lady Macbeth), is what sealed the Tevinter patriarchy. Lady Vasilia being the one who convinced her husband to burn Andraste slowly and publicly upon a pyre, telling him to refuse her mercy. In essence, Tevinter would have basis to blame the fall of Andraste and the Maker’s anger on Lady Vasilia, who wished suffering on Andraste. Again while her husband was the one to raise his voice for Andraste. All of which would fit Tevinter’s twisted version/interpretation of the Chant of Light and why their Divine is a man (unlike the southern Divine who represents Andraste, their Black Divine represents Hessarian).

So yeah, that’s pretty much how it should be for Thedas with the canon lore in place and how we play it for our Tabletop, even though Bioware doesn’t show/see it this way.

No spoilers, promise.

That was the first time in a lifetime of near-constant consumption of cinema that I’ve been sitting in a packed, darkened movie theatre, watching some massive, bombastic blockbuster action movie, sensing the excitement, the rapt gaze of a predominantly male audience, and thought to myself… 

This movie isn’t just tipping its hat to women so we won’t feel excluded. This movie is *for women*. 

Fury Road features some of the most fierce and violent and brutal and vivid and compelling imagery I’ve watched in any movie, ever, and it also just happens to be one the most warmly and thoroughly feminist films I’ve ever seen, from any genre.

Miller made this for us.

When that realization hit me, I cried.

Unprecedented. What a lovely day.


Matriarchy Lyrics

我不会 耕田吃草 让人下注
I don’t plow, or eat grass; I won’t let you anchor me like stakes
So why’s there a term like Mazi?*
(Mazi is a Chinese slang to call girlfriend, sorta like bitch/work-horse)
Don’t tell me all you need is a horse to bear your son
Party with your pal is a good cheating excuse
You think I don’t know? Even though I look calm as I’m making a midnight snack
Think about it and we’ll see who is the fool

我笑得柔软 心却比铁还钢
I smile softly, yet my heart is tougher than steel
世界男人称王 女人却什么都扛
Men proclaim to be king in this world; but it’s women who shoulder the burden
Don’t say we must cook well in kitchen and look nice in public
不要再说 要会铺床又能着床
Don’t say we must make the bed and be good at sex
What if there are no woman in the world?
你想 你想
Think about it; you think about it

Don’t think suits and ties are the only armor
不要以为 浴帽围裙就是渺小
but that shower caps and aprons are insignificant
信以为真 连续剧里的那一套
do you think this is a period drama?
皇上 吉祥
‘Huangshang,jixiang.’ *
(This is a term when imperial concubines greet the emperor, meaning ‘Auspicious, Your Majesty.’)
Such ridiculousness!

我记得 你最喜欢 哪双袜子
I remember which socks are your favorites
朋友聚会 演戏 让你有面子
I play it cool at your friend’s party to save you face
Do you really think I didn’t catch you eyeballing boobs?
I remember nvwa and yuemu*
( Famous women character in legends and history)
But you tell me to be quiet and be obedient
仔细算算 最值钱的 只是结婚戒指
Turns out the only thing you gave me that was worth anything was the price of the ring

我笑得柔软 心却比铁还钢
I smile softly, yet my heart is tougher than steel
世界男人称王 女人却什么都扛
Men proclaim to be king in this world; but it’s women who shoulder the burden
Don’t say we must cook well in kitchen and look nice in public
不要再说 要会铺床又能着床
Don’t say we must make the bed and play be good at sex
What if there is no woman in the world?
你想 你想
Think about it; you think about it
Don’t think suits and ties are the only armor
不要以为 浴帽围裙就是渺小
and that shower caps and aprons are insignificant
信以为真 连续剧里的那一套
you think this is a period drama?
皇上 吉祥
‘Huangshang,jixiang.’ * (‘Auspicious, Your Majesty.’)
Such ridiculousness!

You can hold me and repeat the same staged words that you love me
you don’t have the guts to let me go
I don’t care what you think women should be like
安静 该死
Shut up, fuck off
Don’t think suits and ties are the only armor
不要以为 浴帽围裙就是渺小
and that shower caps and aprons are insignificant
信以为真 连续剧里的那一套
you think this is a period drama?
皇上 吉祥
‘Huangshang,jixiang.’ *(‘Auspicious, Your Majesty.’)
简直荒唐 无聊
Such ridiculousness, pathetic
荒唐 无聊
Ridiculous, pathetic


Take a look at my new series “Emanu (Our Mother)” up on my site now!

“Let the Jewish daughters in all future generations know the great privilege they have and the great responsibility they carry.”                                        Esther

Drawing from the story of the matriarch Rachel, with whom I share a name, I explore my relationship with Judaism, gender, and the idea of the Schehinah, the soft empathetic counterpart of God, the feminine aspect of God in the human form. I approach the self portrait as a vehicle for self-love and for the promotion of positive self-talk. In this project, it is a tool for self-admiration.

As outlined in the book of Genesis, Rachel, the mother of all Jews overcame a life of hardship and was raised by men of deceit. She wept and prayed for all the Jewish people on the road to Bethlehem, on their the way from slavery into exile. She died giving birth to Joseph and Benjamin, who went on to lead two tribes of Israel, and was buried on that road.  She personifies the cosmic tears of the Shechinah, God’s revealed presence in our world. Rachel, the loving mother who suffered along her children in exile, nursed them with her tears.

Emanu is a platform for creating a personal understanding of myself and of Judaism through text and photography. While I did not grown up in a particularly orthodox or religious home, my family did engage in religious ritual. It is only recently, in my twenties, that I have decided to explore religious ideas and actions from my childhood.  This project is not about becoming more devout or religious in my Judaism. It serves rather, as an exploration of my identity as a Jewish woman and my spirituality in relationship to the world I am situated in. I approach Emanu more through family tradition and feminist ideas than with religious experience. The examination of women spaces and stories relates directly to my identity as a Jewish woman. Like Rachel the matriarch, I have endured suffering and deceit at the hands of men. Through Emanu I examine contemporary ideas regarding the Shechinah.

In my experience with Judaism, it is often the women who preserve history and uphold cultural identity. Emanu highlights different approaches to gendered roles in a matrilineal society which operates in noticeable contrast to the broader and more pervasive patriarchy of western society. Participating in women-dominated spaces and in women-dominated actions that express the importance of women as strong spiritual beings; has provided me with positive experiences. This series explores alternative approaches and coping strategies to life as a woman confronted by the violence of a male-dominated society. I am drawn to the story of Rachel; to her strength, perseverance and embodiment of a distinct Godly presence in the world. Emanu serves to celebrate women spheres and examine ritual and religious identification and spirituality through both a feminist lens and the female form.

See more here

Separating marriage from child rearing: The Mosuo of China.

By Jonathan Harrison, PhD

In the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China lives a small ethnic group called the Mosuo. Among the Mosuo, romantic and family life are separated into different spheres by design. Children are usually raised in the home of their maternal grandmother with the help of their mother. She may maintain a long-term, monogamous romantic relationship with the father but, unlike in the West, this is considered separate from her role as a mother.

The role of the biological father is discretionary.  There is no word in their language, in fact, for husband or father.  A father is allowed, but not required to provide financial support and he is usually permitted to visit the mother and their child(ren) only at night. They call it “Axia” or “Walking Marriage.” The children’s primary male role models are usually their uncles, who remain under the authority of the children’s grandmother as they live under her roof.

From the Mosuo point of view, separating marriage from the raising of children ensures that the vagaries of romance do not disrupt the happiness and health of the child and its mother. Nor can the father wield power over the mother by threatening to withdraw from the marriage. Meanwhile, because the family of origin is never eclipsed by a procreative family, the Mosuo system reduces the likelihood that elders will be abandoned by their families when they need support in old age.

“Think about it,” writes an expert at Mosuo Project.

Divorce is a non-issue…there are no questions over child custody (the child belongs to the mother’s family), splitting of property (property is never shared), etc. If a parent dies, there is still a large extended family to provide care.

This way of organizing families is an excellent refutation of the hegemonic view that children need the biological father to live under their roof (and by implication, to be their patriarch). You can learn more about the Mosuo in the documentaries The Women’s Kingdom and The Mosuo Sisters.

Image: A 78-year-old grandmother with her family (from Gender Across Borders).

Dr. Jonathan Harrison earned a PhD in Sociology from the University of Leicester, UK. His research interests include the Holocaust, comparative religion, racism, and the history of African Americans in Florida. He teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University and Hodges University. 


Can you describe the origins of Patriarchy?

Maria Mies, author of Patriarchy & Accumulation on a World Scale, interviewed by Jeanny Gering. For further elaboration by Mies on the subject read her work: “The Social Origins of the Sexual Division of Labor”.

“The second problem arises from the transformation of the meaning of arché from “origin” to meaning “rule, domination”. First, a “right to rule” is deduced from the fact of origin. This could mean either the power of the body of the mother, of the female (e.g., Mühlmann 1984), or mother-power (Canetti 1986), or “mother-right” as well (Bachofen 1978). But in this case there is no “rule”. Or possibly what is meant is that the maternal power, which by nature is necessary for nurturing, protecting, and accompanying new life until it is able to take care of itself, is replaced by a father’s “right to rule”. Either the father “rules” and assumes the power of the mother while she is giving birth, or the “father” makes his claim to the power because he himself is the one giving birth. This would mean a kind of “father’s power”. However, since fathers are not able to give birth and thus are not by nature “powerful” in this sense, we still have the problem of explaining which non-maternal birth and non-maternal ruling power we are talking about here. 

Things are just as difficult when we look at the word “pater”. In the discussion on patriarchy it is often not taken into account that – as far as we know – the word father did not even exist in pre-patriarchal society, and when it finally appears with patriarchy, it does not mean any of the things we usually associate with it. When the concept of father appeared in history, it did not mean the physical father who takes care of his children. The concept of father was from the beginning an abstract institutional one instead, a concept of hierarchy, rule and domination (e.g. von Braun 1990). The father appears from the beginning in connection with the concept of domination, the lawful ruler, God, something superhuman (see Freud 1974). The father concept thus did not necessarily mean physical fatherhood, and it did not originate in the sensual culture of matriarchies. Only with this in mind can we understand that the concept of father is a purely utopian concept, in the sense that the “rule” of the “father” is: a) possible; b) desirable; c) so all comprehensive that it could even include the maternal, real origin, the birth event; and/or d) no longer needs the maternal, because it has completely “replaced” it. 

This way patriarchy is basically the expression of a social utopia which states that it is the father and not the mother, in the abstract institutional form of “fatherhood”, i.e., as a supposed God or his “law”, or even a “natural law”, who creates life, or who ideally one day will be able to do so. So patriarchy is in the end an unimaginable, incomprehensible, almost inexpressible claim totally unattached to and abstracted from the concrete conditions of earthly existence, going far beyond anything as banal as some sort of “birth envy”. Its goal is nothing less than the transformation of the birth-giving female body into an all-producing and universally reproducible thing, to replace the birth-giving body with a non-bodily, non-female machinery and claim this machinery to be the goal and end of human history. The same is true for Mother Nature and the earth herself. “

- excerpt from Loosing Faith in Progress: Capitalist Patriarchy as an Alchemical System” by Claudia von Werlhof

Part 2 here.

mother nature: the ultimate SJW

Whenever sexist MRA douchebros start citing sketchy evopsych logic as a reason why women are fundamentally different to men and cultural/social gender roles are a fixed, binary necessity “because it’s just how nature works” I want to laugh and laugh and laugh, because actual nature is not even remotely in the business of supporting their misogynistic bullshit, and it’s beautiful.

I mean, seriously: pretty much all the most intelligent mammals, like orca, dolphins, elephants, hyenas, pigs, baboons and gibbons are matriarchal; of the brightest primates, only gorillas and chimpanzees are patriarchal - though patriarchal chimps are still less intelligent than matriarchal bonobos - and while orangutans are mostly solitary, their primary social bonds are between mothers and their offspring

And for anyone who thinks, despite the overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary, that the idea of nonbinary gender is something modern feminists and SJWs invented overnight because reasons and which has no other basis in biology, well: the freemartins, maned lionesses, female insects with penises, pregnant male seahorses and mammalian female pseudo-penises of the animal kingdom - not to mention the wide array of biological differences underpinning human concepts of gender - beg to differ. And that’s just for starters.  

Basically, gender and sexuality are fascinatingly diverse whichever way you look at them, and once you throw in the fact that humans are clearly capable of consciously altering our own cultures, the idea that we’re predeterministically slaved to a single sexist system is rendered even more absurd than ever.

On the Vuvalini

I’ve been stewing over the whole ‘Vuvalini left the male children behind’ thing for about a week and…well…I have a lot to say about it. Particularly the assumption that the culture of the Many Mothers was just as sexist and awful as the hell-pit that Joe created.

The thing is, I’m in the tail end of finishing my masters in cultural Anthropology (with a background in sociology and social anthropology) and I have a particular fascination with gender roles and how they change both over space (different places have different ideas about gender) and time (ditto for historical periods) and the thing is…there has never - as far as we know - been anything that we would call a ‘matriarchy’.

Keep in mind when I say ‘matriarchy’ I mean a culture that devalues men and masculinity and props up a variety of social systems and attitudes used to control men’s autonomy and sexuality - think inverted patriarchy.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been cultures and cultural practices that explicitly value women - particularly when it comes to reproduction and tracing one’s lineage. There are numerous examples of cultures that practice matrilineal descent (you trace your ancestry solely through your mother’s line) and matrilocal marriage (husband moves in with the wife and her family). Avuncular descent can also be mentioned here as well (this is where your main male caregiver is not your father but your mother’s brother). Matrilineal inheritance isn’t uncommon and, heck, there are even examples of cultural norms where married men outright avoid their mother-in-laws to show respect.

Note: I love reading ethnographies about that last one.

And seriously, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the earliest forms of human worship are believed to be earth goddess-oriented. I remember reading a mad max meta where someone thought that the idea of the Vuvalini worshipping a Mother Earth goddess was taking things too far, but seriously? It makes all the sense in the world to me. Especially given their practice of matrilineal descent (“I am the daughter of Mary JoBassa”) and the adoptive motherhood-ish practice of 'initiate mothers’ (Oh God I have so many embarrassingly detailed headcannons about initiate mothers).

Not to mention the Keeper of Seeds and her (personal?) practice of trying and failing over and over to bring back the green. To me, it’s not such a big leap for there to be earth-centred spiritual connotations behind that labour. Yes I know I’m reaching here, but I don’t think I’m reaching too far.

(Hell, even if I’m wrong you KNOW the Dag gonna bring some spiritual heft to her new role).

But does their woman-centred society mean that they were a matriarchy? Them leaving their male children behind would certainly suggest this…but really? That would be the most astounding thing. Because that kind devaluing of masculinity to the point ABANDONING male children has no real basis. Collectively women haven’t done to men what men - collectively - have done to women.

We don’t know why this is. We just don’t. I personally don’t believe it’s because of any inherent sex-based difference: women can be just as vicious and blood thirsty as men. But the fact remains that a matriarchy (at least one that mirrors patriarchy) hasn’t existed. It just hasn’t.

The Amazon myth that I believe is the inspiration behind the Vuvalini is just that: a myth. Using the Amazons to justify the construction of the inverted-patriarchy of the Vuvalini is like saying that dinosaurs MUST hate cities around the pacific because LOOK at what these OTHER giant lizards did when they ran amok!!!!! Seriously, godzillla and the kaiju are just about as real as the Amazons.

Just because a culture has numerous practices that outright benefit (and hell, celebrate) women doesn’t mean that it devalues or hates men and masculinity. That’s not the way it’s panned out.

Now, I don’t really know if George Miller and co. really made the Vuvalini a vicious matriarchy - that’s still kinda murky to me - but if they did I would really be interested in how that kind of society came about. And I’m not saying that to be snarky, I would really like to know. Did the presence of technologies like industrial farm equipment, rifles, and motorcycles change the dynamic somehow? I know that’s a bit technologically determinist, but it’s really the only thing that I can think of.

(And no, I don’t think that living in relatively close proximity to Joe and his ilk would be enough to push the female Vuvalini over the edge. The vast majority of matrilineal and matrilocal societies don’t live in isolation. They routinely interact with patriarchical patrilineal (descent traced through the father) and patrilocal (wife lives with husbands family) cultures. And yes, sometimes those interactions have been violent. But even then, no male dominating matriarchy developed. )

Until such an explanation is plopped in front of me I’m just gonna assume that the 'abandonment of male children’ is a bit more nuanced than what has been suggested. I’m all for recognizing that women are capable of violence (“killed everyone I ever met out here”) and of examining the toll that violence takes not only on the victim (probably mostly men), but also on the perpetrators and bystanders (probably mostly women). I love the Vuvalini, oh I love them so much, but they DID have to do some serious murdering in order to keep their culture going - even before the Green Place went sour (those honey pot traps were not new re: “I remember something like that”).

I want to explore that. I want to explore that post-apocalyptic matrilineal farming and motorcycle riding society populated by sharpshooters who think that 'Furiosa’ and “the Valkyrie” are perfectly normal names (HELL YEAH THEY ARE).

Because that’s plausible to me! But man-hating to the point of gender based child abandonment…isn’t? Both anthropologically and based on their behaviour in the movie. Heck. they just gave Nux and Max bikes after Furiosa vouched for them. Like no big, have our stuff. Yeah, they were suspicious, but after what you’ve seen of Joe and the war boys (ESPECIALLY after that new deleted scene was released HOLY SHIT WHAT THE F-) can you blame them?

So yeah, that’s my take on the biker grannies.


PATRIARCHAL tactics 101:

always making it your responsibility to earn his trust; always being on the defensive position.  EXIT strategy: just, stop play to his games.  

Give up the exceptions that happiness is achievable through proving your value to him. 

Possessiveness 101

How to deal with manipulators?

How to Deal with a Narcissist?