The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2019

All Issues
MAR 2019 Issue
Critics Page

Forbidden Archeology of the Divine Feminine

Before we trowel the forbidden archeology of the divine feminine, I must dismantle any deliberate distortions that this essay is an all-out assault on men. It isn’t.

Many of the most committed feminists I know are male and some of the lousiest are female. Example: the gender traitors who voted for the idiot king of misogyny, Resident Chump. Though disappointing, it reminded us there’s a puny subgroup of fecal bacteria disguised as conservative women living among us. But I digress.

My hope is to help eradicate historical amnesia and the phony ethos women are innate subordinates to men by pollinating you with a roaring axiom of gender equality and women’s historical contributions to the advancement of civilization. A difficult endeavor but, hey, it’s what I do.

For centuries, we’ve been conditioned women lack leadership abilities, have inferior minds and must have a husband branding us like livestock or we’re practically meaningless unless we join a convent or the like.

Fortunately, my strong, feminist mother never allowed this dubiousness to take root and encouraged me to be my own person and that I was more than just a bride or breeder. (Thanks Ma)

Books were the wellspring and, as a wee lass, I read a pioneering proto-feminist essay—“A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women” written in 1792 by Mary Wollstonecraft—challenging the sexist canon that educating women was a wasted endeavor because we were emotionally fragile, infantile Hysterics.

Wollstonecraft defiantly and factually declared women were intellectual equals to men, if not superior sometimes, and deserve to be educated equally to fully contribute to the amelioration of society. Furthermore, without knowledge of our contributions throughout history, civilization would eventually degenerate.

Only recently has it been disseminated how powerful women were and how gender roles varied in the ancient world. A few examples: the first female Pharaohs were Sobekneferu and Hatshepsut—in the Americas (pre European invasion) gender norms were often inconceivable. Numerous Native Nations recognized at least five genders: male, female, two-spirit female, two-spirit male and transgender. In Africa, the Dahomey, an all-female military regiment were feared for mastery of warfare, indifference to pain and death, and revered for their acute fiscal strategies.

And though we’ve seen unprecedented progress recently, forged by courageous, powerful women—e.g. the 2018 Congressional elections—these incredible breakthroughs are just the beginning to realizing our full potential and knowledge of self.

Wollstonecraft’s 250 year old essay also argued women should be equal partners to their spouses instead of mere ornaments or disposable property traded in marriage. So let’s excavate.

Who are you?

Your first name was plucked from parental sentiment but your last name is a symbol of male ownership. Without our own identifiers, our own last names, we continue to be property passed from father to husband, ad nauseam.

For many, it’s a subtle form of cultural control, but for women of color, it’s quite literal. Forced here in chains, their ancestors were bought and sold, their humanity and birth names replaced with forgeries by slave masters and colonizers. Same with the Indigenous People of this land.

This redaction of heritage infects the entire body of society by separating some by race: African American, Asian American, et cetera.

But not Caucasians—then the term is simply “white.” An absurdity to be sure because what is a “White American”? Someone with a melanin deficiency? What is “White Culture? Cargo shorts, Crocs, and a feral obsession with cross burnings and Dancing With The Stars? Or something more pernicious? Perhaps all of this is designed to degrade the humanity of women and non-”whites” to genetic subordinates.

But let’s disrupt this hideousness with facts. Caucasians are European Americans.

Native Nations inhabited this land thousands of years before they discovered Columbus lost at sea. Ergo, Indigenous People don’t require any form of pre-indicator because they are the first and only true Americans.

This denial of European ancestry cultivates a forgery that America is first and foremost a dominion for “white” males radicalizing empty people with a phony narrative of heritage. Rather pathetic if you think about it so let’s don’t. Instead, let’s offer endless gratitude to the Suffragettes for their unbridled courage to fight for women’s voting rights. But I digress.

Our excavation eventually uncovers the false imperative that all women must be breeders. Again, some of the lousiest among us believe this without ever considering the simplest remedy for the Pro-life movement: mandatory vasectomies.

No baby batter, no baby. It’s science. Google it.

Lastly, I hope you feel a stronger sense of self and individuality. I hope you learn more about our robust history and share it. That you’ll become fearless in declaring your own humanity and fight to ensure future feminists reach the promised capacity America affirms ALL of its citizens.


Otep Shamaya

Otep Shamaya is a writer, singer, freedom fighter & cultural arsonist.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2019

All Issues