Essentially, Essentialism Sucks

Women are the ultimate mystery, possessors of the great lunar intuitive way of knowing, capable of listening to the rhythms of nature in a way no one else can. Mothers, goddesses, women are all that is natural, fertile earth-wombed Venuses, protectors of the creative half of human nature. Right. And I’m a fifty-foot green lemming with vampire fangs, a tinfoil hat, and a built-in AI to communicate with the mother ship. Sever me from half myself with your essentialism, go on. Because men are rational all the time, yes. No intuition what-so-ever, no emotional irrationality, nope. And I’m not analytical. No sirree bob. Not a logical thought in my head. I’m a baby-draped earth-momma, yup, yup. Oh, and ignore the people who sit between, the women who are all-woman, but weren’t born that way, and the men who started out in the wrong body. Ignore all the shape-shifters, and the folk who were never either, and those who are both at once.

I’m tired of the essentialism. I’m tired of traits being listed as “masculine” and “feminine.” The Pagan community is rife with this. I’m tired of the excuses: “well it’s not that only men are this way and only women are that way…” I’m sorry, you can say all you want that it isn’t the intent, but using those words shapes the reality: thus, feminine/lunar/passive/yin and masculine/solar/active/yang become what people see. By linking them, you’re attaching these labels to people, real people, their bodies, their minds, their beings. And my answer to that is NO.

I am not a fertility Venus. I am not lunar and intuitive, as if those things were the whole of me. I claim the sun, daylight, reason, culture. I claim both the screaming and crying, and the calm rational speech. I claim non-fiction and poetry, and the craft of essay-writing. I claim the quiet and still as well as the strike and frenzy. I claim whole-beinghood.

There’s more to these myths, a sinister (left-handed, weaker, womanly?) edge to these archetypes. I see it among the child-free community, too. Women are not brood sows. Mothers are not cattle. In keeping with this, I will eviscerate the next person who disdainfully labels any woman who has, wants, or is expecting children a “breeder” or a “moo.” The physical capacity to reproduce does not subsume an individual’s identity, and I will apply my fiery solar blade to this notion, cut it open with my intellect, exposing it for what it is: the equally damaging flip side of the earth-mother archetype.

We need new stories, myths in the morning of their telling. We need stories that turn it all inside-out, that show things true, that don’t fit the archetypes, but make space for what’s already here. I will tell a story. I will tell a story that starts to turn these things around: Momma Mountain, Aunt Arachne, and Little Jackrabbit Child all lived together in their house on the hill. Momma Mountain left in the morning to go to her nine-to-five as a park ranger, and Aunt Arachne and Jackrabbit sat out on the porch. It was a fine day, and the air was thick with thunderheads, though it weren’t rainin’ yet.

Auntie lit herself a stogie, sipped her Irish coffee, and watched her rabbit-niece become a spring like all kids do, bouncing like a rubber ball, off the walls, with an attention span shorter than a mayfly’s infancy.

Little Jackrabbit Child got that look in her eye that said, “I’m gonna drop a question too big for you in your lap,” and she did.

“Auntie? Auntie, how come you don’t got kids?” And like all too-big questions, Jackrabbit Child really did wannna’ know.

Auntie Arachne puffed on her cigar for a minute before she answered, “I got you.”

“No, I mean your own kids.”

And Auntie Arachne smiled. “Because you kids are an annoying pain in the ass!”


“And why do you say that?”

“Because we’re fun!”


“Because we do all the neat stuff!”


“Because we got toys!”


“‘Cause Momma gave ’em to us!”


“‘Cause she wants us to go play.”


“‘Cause she says, ‘I’m busy…’ Hey!!!”

“Hey what?”

“Stoppit! Just ’cause, okay?”

“Just ’cause? Is that all the answer you got?”

“Momma says it!”

“She says it when you ask ‘why’ all the time, and you know so. She says it when you’re being an annoying pain in the ass, Rabbit. And you said when I was being a pain in the ass.”

“Momma’s never a pain in the ass.”

“Oh yes she is, sometimes. And don’t say ‘ass.'”

“You said it.”

“I did. And I correct: don’t say ‘ass’ around Momma Mountain.”


And then the rain burst and they went inside.

One thought on “Essentially, Essentialism Sucks”

  1. Amen, yo.The crazy THE UNIVERSE IS A BINARY STEREOTYPE SHUT UP AND ENJOY YOUR WOMB ENERGY thing was always one of my biggest paw-thorns when I was a part of the pagan community.I am not a logical stag-creature that exists to dip my proverbial wand in some earth mother’s chalice. I prefer other wands.


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