“Intuitive, Receptive, Dark”
Negotiations of Femininity in the Contemporary Satanic and Left-hand Path Milieu
Keywords:Satanism, Left-hand Path, Gender, Feminism, Women, Essentialism, Constructionism, Occultism, Esotericism
The article discusses some of the debates over the construction of gender taking place in the satanic and Left-hand Path (LHP) milieu, in particular the different varieties of upvaluing of “the feminine.” This includes disputes over what the term feminism entails, what the best strategies for women to gain more power are, and if “feminine” is an essence that can be contrasted with a fixed “masculine.” Notions of gender polarity as necessary for magical practice or cosmic balance are given special attention, as are borrowings from feminist terminology (e.g. “patriarchy”) by figures that are far from feminist in orientation. Aside from textual sources, the article draws on communication with 44 informants. Three basic approaches to gender can be discerned in the milieu: 1) Gender as an insignificant category, 2) Gender as a natural polarity, 3) Gender as false consciousness. Of these, number two is the most common, while number one is quite seldom seen—gender is a major issue, one way or another. Femininity is frequently discussed by both men and women, while masculinity is a less popular topic. Femininity, then, is a particularly contested matter in the milieu. Overall, the dominant view of gender is that the two sexes should be strictly dichotomized. The article concludes that with some exceptions most organizations in the milieu are numerically dominated by men. However, some important groups have periodically been led by women, and there are several female key producers of ideology. The partly reactionary views concerning gender issues held by some female leaders indicate that female leadership does not necessitate that a conventional feminism would permeate the organization. Further, it is difficult to see any absolute correlation between female leadership and upvaluing of the feminine in mythology. Moreover, the article demonstrates, such upvaluing does not in itself always signify an underlying ideology of political feminism.
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