C is for creepy men at festivals

In my experience, Neo-Pagans tend to be more open about sex than the general population.  I’ve often repeated the maxim that Wicca is fundamentally about sex and death, and I maintain that with a hefty dose of adamance.  I saw a video recently on YouTube in which someone offered up an interpretation of the Charge that included arguing that “ye shall be naked in your rites” was some sort of metaphor for  being yourself and not trying to hide who you are.  That’s a super sweet interpretation and I’m thrilled that this person was able to derive personal meaning in drawing this conclusion, but that absolutely wasn’t the original intention of the piece (which, by the way, wasn’t written by the Goddess Herself).  Naked means naked.

All this to say, witches and Pagans tend to not mind being naked, talking about and engaging in sex, etc.  We’re not prudes.

That said, being Pagan does not require that one have sex, feel comfortable naked (especially in public),  or want to talk openly about sex, etc.  And yet over and over again I find myself having to deal with other Pagans who assume that, because I’m a Pagan, too, I’m promiscuous or okay with sharing the details of my personal life with strangers (who, just by virtue of being Pagan, are not automatically “family” or even “community”).

I’ll come out and say it: traumatic past experiences have left me with serious man problems.  I’m not inherently trusting, patient, or forgiving where they’re concerned.  I’ve picked fights with guys who’ve catcalled me, I often call men out for harassing women or mistreating their wives and girlfriends, and I can’t tolerate any sort of media that I feel encourages people to become desensitized to violence against women (*cough* Game of Thrones *cough*).  Yeah, I realize that women can suck, too.  I’ve heard all of that from the offended men in my life.  I don’t give a shit. That fact is that men have more power in society than women do and are more likely to commit violent crimes against women than vice versa.  Having experienced such violence, I don’t want to hear about how, “Well, men can be victimized, too!”  Go find someone else if you’re looking for sympathy.  

I’m admitting all of this to the interwebs because I think it may be important in order for you to understand that I’m hyper sensitive to sexual harassment.

Leering at a woman while she’s in sacred space, trying to hug her (because Pagans are supposed to hug instead of shake hands, right?) just so you can feel her up, or otherwise making unwelcome advancements repeatedly is unacceptable.  Being Pagan isn’t an excuse to be a creeper.

While at festival, I had a merchant creep up behind me and offer to buy my underwear.  I was’t sure how to feel after giving it some thought, but initially I was disturbed and offended.  Viscerally I was repulsed.  Needless to say, I left and maintained my distance for the rest of the week.  I’ve also had plenty of comments left on videos I’ve made that have been sexual in nature and otherwise off-topic and unwelcome.  When I’ve deleted the comment and said something to the perpetrator, what I usually hear is, “It was meant to be a compliment!”

It’s not a fucking compliment.  It’s harassment.  Knock it the fuck off.  You want to appreciate a woman’s body from a distance and indulge in lusty fantasies on your own, fine.  Go for it.  Hey, I’ve objectified plenty of men in my day.  But bringing it to her attention so explicitly is not necessarily welcome, nor should you assume that it will be.

While we’re on the subject of sex and nudity, I want to say something about clothing optional, family-friendly festivals like Free Spirit Gathering (where I was this past week):

Including children is great.  Encouraging children to be comfortable with nudity (both their own and others’) is great.  But assuming that it’s always safe to do so is not okay.  Yes, it’s a Pagan festival.  The theory is that Pagans are more honest, more open, and more ethical than the population at large.  Sadly, this is not actually the case.  At a festival where anyone with the money can attend and where you’re not always there to monitor your child’s every move, maybe it’s not the greatest idea that you allow your child to run freely, and unclothed, at that.  I want to trust people, I do.  I want to believe that things like rape don’t occur at festivals.  But it does.  I don’t understand why people are so readily willing to risk the safety of their children for the sake of idealism.

I’ll close by saying that there’s nothing wrong with promiscuity (and I’m applying that term to both women and men).  With regard to sex, I think whatever floats your boat (provided you’re not hurting anyone else) is all good.  I just think we sometimes need to be more considerate of others and keep a closer watch on our children.

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