Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Wicker Man

By Guest Columnist Genet

Do women really know how to express anger?

It's a question I often ask myself as I observe the position of women worldwide.

Becki Jayne thoughtfully posted a link to GreenStone, the new women's radio network, recently launched by Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. It's a very thoughtful article. Gloria Steinem is one of our best and brightest, and I always enjoy reading what she has to say.

However, I think women should be given an opportunity to express their anger in a very public and aggressive way. Anger is the last taboo among women. I like anger because it is real and also it can be creative.

We have right-wing woman hating radio, and just plain woman-hating radio shows. I won't mention the hosts by name, but what they say about women would not be allowed if the same words were applied to African-Americans. The amazing thing is that even Gloria Steinem doesn't advocate fighting back.

At the GreenStone network there was mention of thoughtful programs hosted by women, but Gloria said the network was not about "male bashing." Apparently, it's bad to bash men. But men bash us all the time and get away with it, so I like fighting back. I see no reason not to bash men who attack women in print or on the radio, for example. In early feminism, women were actually learning the martial arts to be able to defend themselves; now they advocate sending boys to "sensitivity training" if they sexually harass girls on the playground. What ever happened to the ideal of the warrior girl simply knocking her attacker to the ground in triumph and self-defense?

I often believe that men will never understand reason unless they know they will lose badly for violating women in any way. I am cynical in my belief that men will ever fully understand the freedom of women and I don't believe they really care about our rights or our desire to rule in our own right.

I think men do dreadful things worldwide, and I hate the fact that women are still only about 15% of Congress right now. That means we don't have the numbers to pass laws on our own. We don't control the Supreme Court; we don't determine our legal destiny.

So I enjoy the very few times when the tables are turned, and one of the true delights of the fall was the recent release of a movie called, The Wicker Man. This is the fascinating story of an island ruled by women in Puget Sound and the quest of a man to find his child on that island. But the hero, Nick Cage, is in for real trouble.

He holds his police badge but the women of the island pay him no heed. They stare him down, they don't fawn or placate him. It is a refreshing movie of women's power and how the symbols of patriarchy hold no sway over this island. Even Nick's cell phone is inoperative on the island. When he finds a seaplane, the radio has been destroyed. There is little if no technology on the island and he is helpless in the face of a woman-ruled world.

I love the images of the goddess and a matriarchal culture centered on beekeeping. Think of the queen bee and the drones because this metaphor is a key to understanding the movie. There's the mystery of the men on the island who never speak but only do the menial work. And the ending is spectacular. I loved the ending, and long to write about it, but any woman who wants to see patriarchy get its just desserts should see this movie.

I can't believe Time Warner released this subversive little gem! What were they thinking? The reviews give this movie a one star rating and almost no mention is made of it anywhere. One reviewer called the matriarchal aspects of the movie a "subplot."

For those of you who have longed for women's planets and universes and religions depicted in fiction, this is the movie for you. Think of all the Star Trek series and how rare it was to come across a place where women ruled a planetary utopia.

In the '70s and early '80s, there was a very large body of lesbian feminist fiction that dealt with male supremacy in creative ways. Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote about a planet ruled by goddess worshipping lesbians in The Ruins of Isis. I read that book when I was living in a very woman-oppressive culture, so the idea of women ruling and men turned into slaves was very delightful to me. There was, Wanderground, by Sally Gearhart, and dozens of other visionary lesbian feminist utopian books.

I look to The Wicker Man as going even farther than, The Da Vinci Code, in creating a powerful divine feminine. The Da Vinci Code is really about men talking about women and not about women's independent spiritual agency, which makes me feel odd when others call it a feminist book. Men talk and women listen is not feminism! Apparently when men ordain to take up the concept of the divine feminine, the book becomes a bestseller.

What I liked about the Catholic concept of the Virgin Birth was the idea of the Holy Spirit delivering the child Jesus to the world. I think of this as a lesbian birth event. One of my most treasured new art acquisitions is Becki Jayne's Madonna, Lover & Son, which is about the divine feminine made real in the world. The idea of Jesus being married is not an interesting concept to me.

As women, we deserve to see a vision of freedom in the world, and we need movies and art that depicts the power of women. We also need to see how women conquer male supremacy on film and in the imagination. We need to honor the sacred anger of women. I remember well the day a lesbian minister once told me I had "the spiritual gift of rage," and I do. I am proud of my ability to articulate my absolute desire for a woman-controlled country, a woman-controlled destiny.

I am horrified when I watch straight women passively letting men get away with this tyranny. We are over 50% of the American population, and what men fear is the day women will really wake up to this fact. We could rule, we could take over, and we should do this. Why? Because it has never been done before in modern times, and women deserve this chance to really go for it. Are men just? No, I don't believe they are. Can any oppressor ever free the oppressed? Of course not. Women need to free themselves, and rise to greatness.

The world is not getting safer with men in control. We know about the destruction of the environment, we know how men act on right-wing radio. We know how they revel in hate speech against women, and we know that women have no radio shows to fight back.

I suppose most straight women think this is a reasonable situation, but I don't. I have no stake in the patriarchal family, and I don't see this as a valid social choice. I want far more freedom than most women ever dream of.

So go see The Wicker Man. To my great surprise, at the very end of the movie, many people in the audience actually clapped. The very last scene is so tasty, so delightful, and so perfect in its ironic commentary on male public behavior that it is not to be missed. Tell your friends, sit back, enjoy, and then don't forget to discuss it afterward at your favorite coffee shop or cafe.