The portrayal of men as sex objects in “Bindwater” [Issue 176] is so blatant and disgusting that it comes close to destroying what is otherwise a beautiful, well-written story.
What is Judith Windt trying to prove by such a portrayal? That women can put down men just as easily as men can put down women?
This story had no place in an issue with an US section dedicated to sexual responsibility. Stories that depict women “drinking down” younger men should be saved for the “sexual vampirism” issue.
Judith H. Windt responds:
I’m sorry that parts of my story may have offended. The character’s sexual behavior was not intended as a model, but was necessary to the story.
While women may feel an angry pleasure at the thought of turning the sexual tables on men, this pleasure is ultimately unsatisfying, as it was for Olga, the thirsty protagonist of the story. Of course retribution does not work. Olga and the others had to undergo a transformation that goes deeper than sexuality in order to restore the balance of love.
Valerie Andrews, in her “Descent into the Mother” [Issue 176], is obviously well-versed (brainwashed) in patriarchal Freudian theory, and its preoccupation with sexual pathology and “mother complexes.” Everything that’s “wrong” with our earth, from addiction to incest, is placed at the feet of what she calls the “negative mother,” with little about the “. . . dangerous concentration of male energy.”
She cites tribal cultural rituals in which the males “drive out” the influence of the mother so that the son can grow “normally.” Certainly parent and child should grow apart, but to blame everything that’s wrong in the world on the “failure” of this separation to occur is bullshit.
Andrews says we need rituals of our own to move away from the mother; I say the patriarchal, Judeo-Christian dominance has stripped us of our abilities to heal ourselves and others. It’s the same old song, Valerie, and it looks like you’ve swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.
Valerie Andrews responds:
My book, A Passion for This Earth, deals with both the mother and father — those parental figures who have the power to give us a true initiation or to hold us back from life. I describe the many ways our culture has dishonored the feminine and lost its contact with the earth. When I talk about the demanding mother, I am referring to the ways we remain overly dependent on our “mother” institutions — the government, the corporation, and the family — and fail to develop our own relationship with life. I am not blaming “mothers” per se, but warning of our hidden rage and resentment at this dependency. We end by projecting this rage on our mates and on the earth itself.
Of course, we need to break with the devouring father as well. Patriarchy dishonors the realm of feeling and relationship and keeps young women from using their own creativity. The tyrannical father wounds us all — daughters and sons alike — because he wants to control the flow of life. In his obsession for control, he teaches us to fear and hate the natural world.
I don’t blame the men, however, any more than I blame “all mothers” for our current ills. For too long we have been making one sex or the other out to be the villain. We should strive instead for a state in which men and women honor one another and serve as loving stewards of the earth. To attain this kind of partnership, we have to transform our regressive longing for parents. We need a new allegiance to the living world, one in which our relationships assume a different meaning. They no longer exist merely for our own gratification but for the preservation of life.
This is not Freudian theory. It is deep ecology.
I was taken with a number of ideas that emerged from the interview with Thomas Berry, “Progress and Other Lies” [Issue 176]. In particular, I believe that Berry’s observation, “We should put the Bible on the shelf for twenty years, until we learn to read the scripture of the natural world,” is most significant.
While I’m uncertain which books should be shelved for how long, it’s clear that we need to redouble our efforts to understand the signals from the abused earth. What these signals mean is problematic; that they must be heeded is obvious.
P.S. Your handling of the controversy associated with the cover photo on Issue 174 was elegant. The expression on the girl’s face lives in the world of the impish and the magnificent; it is cosmically remote from the lewd and the abused.