black witch: “bedknobs and broomsticks” (paganism & sex)

April 11, 2012

Paganism in general is pretty sex-positive. In that sex is seen as part of nature and that it’s natural to have sexual drive and desire. We have at least two holidays for it on the Wheel of the Year, Beltane and Ostara (Spring Equinox). We’re pretty open to contraception, the first use of contraception was used in Mesopotamia and early Egypt – Egyptians invented the first condom, actually. Sexuality is seen as natural so if you’re heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, demisexual, pansexual, etc etc etc, it is what it is – as long as it is consensual and everyone is on the same page.

Words by Black Witch

Firstly, I wanna start off with saying that starting today, I would like to try a contest that will stretch through next Friday, April 13. It’s a literary contest to celebrate the fact that it is Poetry Literature Month. That means I would like for you readers to send in your poetic works, it can be text or it can be on video. The winner will be featured on this month’s The Arts! So get them in! You can submit them through twitter, the Black Witch fan page or email. Check the end of this piece for contact info.
Secondly, I’m planning a first ever BW Meet and Greet for June 9th. It will be in Baltimore, my hometown, so keep your eyes peeled for details.
Third, I’m planning a Meet and Greet. Details soon. Onward with the column.

Sex and sexuality in Paganism is pretty opposite from Christianity. Christianity in general is known for being a sex-negative religion, meaning that it paints a pretty negative picture on sex and sexuality such as regarding sex as something carnal and animal-like, taking away from the pureness of the spirit, and that sex should only be done after marriage and even then only to be makin’ babies (insert your Gingrich jokes here). Then there’s the idea that contraception gets in the way of God’s choice to decide if you’re going to have kiddos boppin around or not. Ooh, and that since sex is only to have kids, there must only be vaginal sex, everything else is sinful. And it has to be between two people of the opposite sex, no more and definitely no less and ab-so-lute-ly betta ever evvvvvvva never be between two people of the same sex. Apparently that’s like binking your toaster or pet dog [insert your Santorum joke here (like I just did, hehehe)]. Men should only want it, women should have zero drive (it would be sinful if they did) and everyone should be abstinent until their wedding day or someone’s gonna get a lot of shaming going on. And don’t even thinkabout it either, that’s also sinful.

In Paganism, whatever you do in bed is your business. What you fantasize or view or experience is also your own business – as long as you can keep it under control, know how to separate what goes on in your head versus what goes on in the real world and how not to go overboard/become a creeper about it. There’s more emphasis on responsibility than guilt here. And more cultural choices for women to express themselves without as much slut-shaming that occurs frequently in Christianity. For those who don’t know that term, it will be explained later on, just follow me for now.

Now some parts of Christianity isn’t wack, such as waiting (abstinence) and wanting to have a fair foundation ready before having kids. I agree with those. Sheesh, even Pagan parents are kinda going “Maybe you should wait. Like, waaaaaait.” But instead of Pagan parents simply telling their youngin’s to wait for their wedding day, they’re more likely to tell them to wait when they’re ready and responsible enough to handle all the responsibilities that could come out of it (*koff*pregnaciesstd*koff*)…and perhaps with a side lean of “when you’re out my house and old enough to afford a house” slipped in. Pagan parents may be more open-minded but that doesn’t – and shouldn’t – stop them from being parents.

Now we got that snippet out of the way. Back to the slut-shaming and suches.

Slut-shaming is pretty much condemning women for what they wear, things they do/say/act and if they are not ashamed of expressing themselves outside the constricting gender role for women as usually defined by culturally Christian standards, maybe by having casual sex or don’t mind watching pornography. For example, say a woman walks down the street in short-shorts and a halter top. Slut-shaming is to shun her if she tries to speak her mind (though she may have a Ph. D., probably personally turned down a position from Obama himself just to work with United Nations and is most likely going to secure a Nobel Prize or two before she hits 60) because of the assumption that since she’s not dressed like a “smart-looking woman” or in any way that would deny desire from men, she must be nothing more than a whore or easy since she’s “showing her goods”. It would be “okay” to call this chick with the Ph.D. a “slut”, regardless of whether she does or does not have sex, or even to call her stupid because she’s not dressing like she’s about to teach a class. It would be “okay” to touch her even though she doesn’t want the attention and most definitely does not want to be grabbed nor objectified. And if you raped her, society is expected not to blame the guy who wanted her – also known by legal documents as “the rapist” – but her because she was “asking for it” by wearing the clothes she wore.

Yep. Chick with the Ph.D. apparently deserves to be slapped, shouted at, grabbed and sexually assaulted because she wanted to wear her favorite pair of shorts and top,* just like Trayvon Martin totally wanted to get stalked and gunned down because he decided to get Skittles and rock a hoodie while Black. Ugh, I swear, when will people stop bringing things like rape and murder upon themselves? Sheesh, it’s not like guys can control their groins and glocks and such over clothes.**

Yah, sounds stupid, huh?

That’s slut-shaming, it’s part of rape culture, which is a different column/post. Paganism does have its douchebags but because the religion has so much based on matriarchy and is pretty women-friendly – we’re best known as “Goddess-based” religions, remember – there’s less slut-shaming and quite more gender equality here. Although sometimes guys feel left out because sometimes the male counterpart of the religion can be seen as diminutive in comparison to the female part of the religion but trust me, we’re pretty balanced for the most part.

Sex in Paganism isn’t all orgies and stuff like that. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea how that stereotype came to be but I have the idea that within the Christian framing of mind, anyone who wasn’t going by their way of sex rules were probably considered raging nymphos because usually the opposite of chaste virginity, as taught in Christianity, is sinful, lustful and very taboo sex sex sex. So with this framing/perspective, something as vanilla and mainstream as basic spanking can seem like it’s a banner of kinkiness and the person remarking upon this can sound like they’re 12. Now does Paganism shun sex with multiple partners at once? Not really, we’re not Christianity. I think the Pagan perspective on sex is kinda the three S’s:

– Be Smart
– Be Safe
– Don’t be Stupid

To break it down:

Be Smart: Learn about contraception, debunk as many myths on sex and genitalia as you humanly can, learn about STDs, figure out your stance on the abortion debate and kids for yourself (do you want kids? Would you or your girlfriend/wife/whatever be comfortable with having an abortion if a slip up occurred?), learn about condoms and lubricant, learn about consent, learn about what safe sex is, learn about yourself and what you prefer sexually, know your limits and respect them, learn about Plan B. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and know that there’s nothing wrong with being a virgin if you want to be one and know that having sex does not make you an adult nor does watching a lot of pornos make you an expert on sex. Read Dan Savage, listen to Loveline, write to Demetria. Just be informed.

Be Safe:Consent is your friend. No one wants to start off the night having fun and finish the week trying to explain to the cops how you didn’t rape him/her, it wasn’t like that at all, officer. Get tested. Try to stay away from risky sex choices which could lead to unwanted pregnancy or STDs such as doing it while under the influence of anything or with unstable people. Use condoms and always have a backup plan in case that breaks and remember, consent is your friend. All sides should be willing, not one coercing the other into whatever sex act is about to take place. And “stop” means “stop”, or whatever safe word is established to play the role of “stop”.

Don’t be Stupid: No coercing anyone. It is not a must if you’re Pagan to have sex. Not at all. You can be a virgin all your life, it’s not a bad thing. You could wait ‘til marriage and no one should have a bone to pick with you. You could have casual sex and that’s not a problem. You could be strictly monogamous and no one should care. You could just plain wait and that’s okay. Anyone who tells you different most likely does not have the best intentions for you or simply bought into the same nonsense that you must have sex to become a whole person/have wisdom. If wise Sages came from boning, most of the perils of the world wouldn’t exist. You don’t have to perform the Great Rite with anyone, it’s not necessary for ritual. If you’re uncomfortable, leave. If everyone is not on the same page, get everyone there or just say, “Eh, rather not.” Don’t treat people like they’re walking sex objects, fleshlights and dildos have been invented for a reason. Don’t believe sex myths (“You’re not going to get pregnant only through anal sex”, “if it isn’t vaginal, it isn’t sex”, “If he pulls out, she won’t get pregnant”, “Can’t get STDs from oral sex”, “Can’t get pregnant during your period”) and don’t pressure anyone into sex. You could say hi to them, be nice to them, even shove them out of the way of a train or go back in time and rescue them from the World Trade Center Spiderman style and guess what? They do notowe you sex. At all. Ever. Kindness doesn’t work that way.

Sex in Paganism is about responsibility. We don’t have a Devil or any other absolute evil to dump blame on. And I mean honest responsibility, as in, if you’re not ready, don’t do it. Not “Sweet, a religion that will let me have tons and tons of sex!” Newp. You still have to act like a reasonable person, preferably treat people (both genders) like human beings and deal with rejections, missed chances, wack communication and more stuff that comes with being human. And since Paganism tends to have some feminism injected in it, that means we frown on rape culture and objectification a little bit more than the major three. A person is their own being. If they want to wear a halter top or show off their pecs, then that’s it. It doesn’t mean, “Come here and grope me or cat call me”. It just means someone has high self-esteem and pride in their body. And since we’re more welcoming to homosexuality and bisexuality than Christianity in comparison, that also means the person who might hit on you just might be the same sex, even if you’re not the same sexuality so if you have some outdated gender perceptions, prepare to get brought up to speed. Everyone is responsible for themselves and what they do to others, pretty much. Does this make Paganism the perfect religion? Heck no. We have some serious short comings ourselves but in comparison to the norm, we do have some progressive streaks going.


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* – I would have written “While female” to parallel “While Black” but you can be female while Black (I am) so it would have been a bit redundant and I prolly would have gone off a tangent about intersectionality, street harassment and rape culture. Another topic for another time.

** – I sense someone is going to shout, “Women rape too!” Eh, like, 2%, and the current culture we have – mainstream, alt or otherwise – does not consistently knock the ball favorably into the ladies’ court. And I’m gonna assume if you’re shouting this, you did not click the “Rape culture” link. Please do so, I don’t link because I like carpal tunnel.