Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Of Stereotypes and Archetypes

Over at The Den of The Biting Beaver a spirited discussion has taken place regarding the use of feminine pronouns.

One side states that terms like Maiden, Mother, Crone, and Virgin are negative stereotypes that define women in terms of her sexuality and fertility.

The other side (by that I mean me) claims that these archetypes are not inherently negative, but only become so when we choose to see the world through a patriarchal lens.

Many of the women involved in this debate were adamant in their stance that they do not fit traditional gender roles, and therefore do not connect to these particular archetypes.

The wonderful thing about archetypes and symbols is that there are so many of them, that we all have an opportunity to choose the ones we identify with as individuals.

Religion is the same way. There are thousands of sects out there to choose from, and each person must go on their own personal journey to find what works best for them.

The thing that disturbs me in all this, is the insistence that there is only ONE right way. This instance degrades respectful debate to the level of personal attacks. (Like the current Muhammad Cartoon Controversy.)

If I find the archetype of The Crone as a positive symbol of Wise Woman and Healer, The stereotype crowd says I am wrong, because there are people in the world who see the crone as a post menopausal douche bag.

I suspect they are leading their argument to the conclusion that all feminine pronouns should be banned, and that I should define women by using *superior* male pronouns, in the fight for equality.

Personally I feel that this just reinforces the idea that women are inferior. I believe that this approach does more harm to the feminist cause than the Patriachal Powers we stand against. I claim that we should use feminine pronouns with pride, and in doing so, we will create respect for women.

The only difference between a stereotype and an archetype is that one is used to degrade, while the other is used to inspire.

The group did not see it that way. I lost the debate.

Alas, each to their own. As for me, I choose to focus on the Positive.


Betty said...

I'm definitely on your side. Your discussion of choice and diversity makes perfect sense. And to me, The Crone is awesome, automatically, even before I check myself for patriarchal bias. Rock on, Kelley!

Kelley Bell said...

Thanks Betty.

When a soldier is worn down from a hard battle, it is so comforting to hear the voice of an ally.

-Got any moraphene?


Writer Mom said...

No way am I going over there!

Kelley...I just spent a half an hour writing a 10-paged testimonial...

Just know that I 100% agree with you. They just can't see your point right now...but I'm glad you made it. :)

firedawg said...

They will learn. Don't let them wear you down. Your example of being comfortable with who you are speaks volumes about the rightness of your position and is a great example. I too bemoan the fact that some people find it so hard to have a good discussion. Geez I think it is great when someone can take me past where I was and on to a new plane of understanding.

giga dans said...

hi,i'm a regular reader of the other blog and i believe you kind of missed the point of the post which is mainly this:

don't you find it to be a rather patriarchal doing that archetypes for males are actually gender-neutral?for example,the ones cited in the discussion:Warrior,Sage,Fool,etc..those do not necessarily invoke a gender but they are still only applied to men,once again putting them in the position of being the default when it comes to followers of religion.but when the need arises to specify the gender of a follwer or deity,the female archetypes are invoked as descriptors that,instead of using an anachronistic symbol for (perhaps)a phallus or womb or whatever,instead denote,yes,sexual availability and/or fertility.this is why i never 'clicked' with the people i found that used these archetypes,primarily because i would've been designated to the innocent rosy-cheeked 'maiden' at the time,and i couldn't stand the hideous crap i read about all of that which seemed like i would've had to have been a 'sexual union' worshipping,ignorant,flowers eggs and ribbons enthusiast for the rest of my time,and that's just why a good deal of women don't feel comfortable with them,and wish that the gender-neutral archetypes which are touted as male could be applied to themselves in group practices as well.

but anyway,i also agree with you and see your point that the archetypes need not be viewed in a such a negative way,because obviously they're open to interpretation by followers.i realize that they could be applied in a more mature,individual way,as you've done it each their own indeed.however,i believe that instead of them being viewed in a patriarchal lens,they were actually CREATED in a patriarchal lens,and how it views its people.

anyhow,i hope i expressed myself clearly enough,i know i probably didn't,so mighty apologies for that,and the long post.:)

Kelley Bell said...

You did just fine Giga Dans.

and you made some good points that I will *really* think about.

Thank you for your oppinion. Im glad you chose to comment.


Rain said...

I don't know. I go all around on this one. But it's best to view things in a positive light.

But I really dropped in to say that I LOVE your blog!!

When I saw the pic of you with the owl I was delighted. I adore raptors. I live in a hawk ( and other birds) heavy migration path.
any how, nice to meet you!

Kelley Bell said...

Hi Rain,

Nice to meet you too.
Im glad you like the blogityblog. Im having lots of fun with it.

The best part of course is the community that surrounds it.

You will find some amazing folks around here.

Kelley Bell said...

Hey everybody,

Check out the cyber birthday party that writer mon is throwing for her friend Zilla!


Biting Beaver said...

I just got over here and checked out the post. I like it! : )

It *is* a contentious issue and yet another 'sleeper' post (I'm never able to anticipate which ones will go 'hot' on me, it always seems like the least innocuous ones cause the most stir)

In any case, it's interesting because, like so many issues, I go back and forth on this one. I enjoy listening to a debate, particuarly when I'm not entirely sure where I stand on it.

In this case, there's alot to think about and I remain undecided as I continue to learn more throughout this life.

Of course, that's a large part of the beauty of life...the learning *wink*

Excellent post Kelley, keep it up.

Also, I didn't get your email in time the other day so I'm just going to have to call and see about volunteering.

Writer Mom said...

Very classy of Biting Beaver.
It makes me happy that communication prevailed!

Obviously, I've had some bad experiences on blog. Well, just one, but that was enough!

You're true wisdom, beauty and grace, Kelley Bell. I feel quite safe over here.

Kelley Bell said...

Wonderful posts gang. Love em!

BB, we need you at the center, particulary in education.

We need people to lead the kids who come in to feed and clean, and we need good public speakers to take our ambassador animals on outreach programs.

Please Call soon!