Picture taken from MysticPolitics
i found god in myself, and i loved her, i loved her fiercely
Before beginning, I’d like to state for the record that I am a Christian– a forward thinking, leftist progressive Christian — but a Christian nonetheless. I think it makes my discussion even more powerful. So, with that being said let us go forth…
It is in ancient Western Civilization, before the birth of Jesus Christ, that the mythology of American culture began. Imagery that became fantasy in television, film and music. It is here that the myth of woman as doppleganger began.
The myth of woman as janus-headed bitch-goddess, or as virgin-whore, is both racist and sexist. Within this paradigm, the image of God is distorted so that He is perceived as a racist patriarch. At this mythology’s core is the oppression of all. According to this myth, if woman is virgin she is both the chattle and nurturer of man.
This synergy of racism and sexism, within American culture is easily typified by ongoing myths of Black women, for example in the myth of the “mammy:” the stereotype of submissive (often elderly) Black female who works Whites and is obsessively devoted to them.
Bell Hooks, in Ain’t I a Woman (1981) gives a brilliant description of the literary mammy:
“She was first and foremost asexual…she also had to give the impression of not being clean so she was the wearer of a great dirty head rag; her too tight shoes from which emerged her large feet was further confirmation of her bestial cow-like quality. Her greatest virtue of course was her love for white folks whom she willingly and passively served.”
Although Mammy first emerged in literature, she later made her way to films and TV (for example in Gone With the Wind). She’s centuries old, and has had countless face-lifts. But Mammy still endures as a popular media stereotype (e.g. in the popular film, The Help).
Thus the ideal woman, the virgin, is without sexual desire; or she has desires man dominates and controls them. She is passive and she poses no threat to the social or political order. She, and only she, mythic goddess, is worthy of becoming wife and mother.
This is the reasoning behind the anti-abortion movement. In the minds of conservatives, women’s bodies — including their reproductive organs– are the property of men.
In contrast, if a woman is not virgin then she is mythic whore. Whores are agressive, self-actualizing and passionate. Whores have their own minds and they are independant. They are the possessors of their own sexual desires: a whore’s sexuality is her’s, and her’s alone, to control. Thus, within the paradigm of media and religious mythology, a whore is only good for one thing: to be used sexually and then tossed aside.
As part of this brainwashing, men and women are socialized to believe that love and passion are antitheical. You can have one or the other. But not both. And this ideology is embedded within American media. In films for example, it was only during the last decade that we began to see men and women passionately– and sexually– loving one another without one or both of them being killed off in the plot.
To be continued…
Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers 2012, Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson 1997 all rights reserved.