The Female Principle – an Introduction
The female principle is the notion that the female is primary; in the cosmos, in biology, amongst ourselves. If there is such a thing as the Divine, She is Female.
It’s a strange idea for someone who identifies as a radical feminist. Radfem, with its trenchant materialist analysis of society, culture and structural oppression, owes a great deal to Marxism and Socialist Feminism, but holds that sexism – the practice of discrimination against women as a sex class – is the root of all oppression and the foundation of patriarchal society.
In this worldview, gender is a hierarchical social construct and an instrument of the oppression of women by men. We are frilly, fluttery, feminine creatures; or earth mothers; or sex objects. But what we are never allowed to be is just ourselves.
Radfems are usually atheists, and as Sheila Jeffreys has pointed out, disrespect for patriarchal religion is key to feminism. We must be able to call out the misogynist utterances of the god of abraham for what they are, and believe in our deepest souls that there is no male god out to oppress us, just the ancient ravings of a lot of bronze age misogynists. In Mary Daly’s seminal work Beyond God the Father we learn that women must castrate god and become the anti-christ; it is a personal Rubicon that those of us raised in patriarchal religious traditions must cross, or we will continually sabotage ourselves.
For many feminists this has meant throwing the spiritual baby out with the bathwater. We cast out sex with gender and end up with androgynous glop. We cast out spiritual orientation with the dirty old sky-god who is obsessed with our knickers, and end up with a hole in our souls.
I do not wish this to be a religious site, nor do I wish to push radfems away; the reverse. I think creating women-only spaces online is critical to keeping the movement going, and that is the ultimate goal of the site – to be a haven for women who consider themselves radical feminists or strongly influenced by radical feminism.
But I do want to be able to suggest that perhaps religious naturalism, and a sense of our home in the universe, our earth, as our mother, is not incompatible with this, and that Nature herself bears witness to this. When we open ourselves to the lives of other beings, our fellow earthlings, some of us will find a goddess, others just a deep connection to our brutalised and raped planet. Nature has always been conceived as female, and thus as a resource to be controlled and raped. Bringing down the patriarchy has never been more important than now, when we are hitting ecological tipping points that could mean the end of sentient life on earth, and connecting to the unity of that life in all its wonder may refresh us, in the parched and futile horror of our early 21st Century fascist madhouse.
A female principle and a radical feminist orientation may well be what it takes to save human life on earth (we do not need to save the planet; the planet will save herself, quite possibly at our expense). To develop and hold onto that orientation in a world rabidly hostile to it, we need to find and nurture it inside ourselves and amongst our sisters. I hope this site will be a Temenos, or sanctuary, which can contribute to such a work.
The site is dedicated to the memory of that most ferocious of female warriors, the late Mary Daly.
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