Transfeminist politics of a Trans and Queer Heathen Anarchist

[Note: This reflects my opinion and is not the only perspective on this complicated social issue. However, I would not be true to myself if I did not speak my mind about it.]

In the Viking age, ergi was probably the worst insult that could be hurled at a man. It denoted a feminine man. While this is obviously a sticky issue for reconstructionists, I do not feel that that every single practice of my ancestors should be replicated especially ones that have transphobic and cissexist connotations. I propose something better, and I say this as someone who is bigendered, let’s celebrate the modern ergi. It requires a lot of bravery and courage to combat patriarchy and cis-supremacy and I think my ancestors would agree.

I celebrate courage and I believe that it requires a lot to stand up for one’s gender identity and sexual orientation especially in a world set up to hate you for being different. While I can imagine that before the Viking age that there is a chance that the Northern Europeans likely had a more permissive view of sexuality and gender, I also feel that there isn’t enough evidence to support this claim except by the lore.

It is suggested that Freyr was worshipped by effeminate men by Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum. Consider Odin, who is a practitioner of Seidr which was considered shameful for men to perform and was considered a woman’s art. Hell, even Loki has some gender bending experiences(and he gave birth to a foal). However, historically and outside of the myths, transgressing gender was seen as wrong. There are recorded statutes that were inherently cissexist and heterosexist and actively punished those who transgressed.

Patriarchy pervade nearly every facet of my life, from my spirituality all the way to television and culture. It is unfortunate. It is a responsibility to fight the ever impossible pervasiveness of patriarchy and the people that it hurts. The fact of the matter is that patriarchy ultimately hurts everyone when it does not allow anyone to fully express themselves, and this includes men.

What would Heathenry without clear distinctions of gender lead to? In my opinion something better and that is more in line with the myths. I truly think that if it worked for our gods then it will work for us now. Besides is replicating our ancestors mistakes, a good thing? I don’t think so. I think it’s a bad idea to think that our gods want everything to be exactly as it was when they was originally worshipped.

How does this tie into anarchism? Simple: it challenges the fundamental nature of patriarchy which requires the state and capitalism to exist. Yes, I believe that heteropatriarchy allows the current system to function and it dehumanizes us all. Interestingly, I identified myself as an “anarchist”  before I came across Asatru.  My opinion was then, and is now, that society would be much better off if people were to live in smaller communities, where individual needs and opinions could be addressed, and then each smaller community would in turn meet with the community at large.  This reminds me a lot of the individual villages that existed in Northern Europe prior to Christian interaction.   But I think poverty and many other issues would be much easier to handle in smaller groups, where individuals could work together to serve the community.

In addition, if someone didn’t agree with the views or customs of the community in which he or she lived, there would be plenty of others, and most likely, one or more would suit said person’s taste.

Diversity is generally healthy. I’ve seen historians describe the Norse social structure as “patriarchal communalist”, and a lot of traditional people, even young ones, seem to still be thinking in those patterns even though they’ve never heard the term or seen a tun-tree. Norway used to have a large political movement based on it, but though the parties are still there, the ideology seems to be dissolving into social liberalism, neoliberalism and elitist radicalism/conservatism.

It’s good to learn from history, not just to repeat it. It’s pretty obvious that there are some nasty drawbacks to the old brand of communalism. An extremely low treshold for deviance is one of them. This makes communities vulnerable to the kind of conservatism which has you failing at subsistence farming while everyone around you are forming cooperatives and buying tractors. Raising the threshold and allowing more space for diversity of opinion and lifestyle can only be good.

However, at some point you have to draw a line. That’s where you run into the problem of “if you tolerate other views, then you’d also have to tolerate mine as well”. There are always some things a community just can’t be brought to tolerate. The thing is, the list is different for each community. For some, it’s gay people, for others, it’s people with piercings, for others again, it’s socialists, conservatives, fascists or some other political brand. Being part of one community or other, we’re conditioned to tolerate some things and reject others. I’m not sure it’s my business to lecture people, perhaps except where I’m in a position to see that they’re hurting each other, and where I’m really, really sure I know a better way of going about it.

The strange thing is that traditional attitudes work quite well as a guideline. I guess it can be worked ouy like this:
Would you welcome me to your house? Then we are friends.
Would you welcome my friend to your house? Then we’re still friends.
Would you not welcome my friend to your house? Then we are not friends.
Would you welcome my enemy to your house? Then we’re enemies as well.

Social issues like this can’t be treated as something separate from the people which the issues are about. There is a network of responsibility and respect between people – wyrd – and that is the basis of all social issues. Disregard it when you make judgements, and you will be carving that network to bits, destroying the thing you were trying to understand and nurture in the first place


~ by ladycat123 on August 28, 2011.

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