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Goddesses & Cancel Culture

History is full of girl power, way back to the beginning of time, in both real life and mythological texts.

In mythology, Goddesses were massively powerful and played a really important role alongside the male deities. We have Isis, the Egyptian goddess of magic, motherhood, and healing. Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom & Justice. Ashera in the bible, the goddess of fertility. You can find them in every religion across the globe.

The notion of gender in the ancient world, including the ancient world from which the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament emerged, was very different from ours. There wasn’t just one deity, there were multiple with various expressions that intertwined and performed different roles. Gods and Goddesses’ ruled and influenced every aspect of life and society. The idea of a single male deity by way of monotheism, as we have today in the Christian church was quite a late adoption in the 17th century.

Whilst the biblical texts present God as male, as a father, or even sometimes the more tyrannical aspects of its male form, we also see God presented as equally feminine and referred to in Genesis as ‘the many breasted one’ or in the book of Hosea that re-iterates that both male and female were a reflection of the divine image of God. Here, ‘God’ is shown as a nurturer, carer and mother. The book of Isaiah describes God as the mother that takes care of its child, or in Deuteronomy ‘God is like a mother eagle hovering over it’s young’.

Sadly, for various reasons that would require an even longer discussion, the goddesses become erased over time, sometimes in terms of their statues, but also literally from the texts because of a prioritisation of a particular deity at a particular political & cultural point in history. Incidentally, this wasn’t just a practice against women and femininity. There are numerous examples of this that can be studied in eras such as Rome and Egypt.

Now, the goddesses never disappeared, one could argue they were re-invented in figures like Mary, queen of heaven. What’s quite wonderful is that Mary is held in even higher regard to Jesus in some sects of the catholic church. I remember my dad once saying we hadn’t given enough credit to Mary and the significance of her story and what it represented.

Not only have female deities & goddesses been a huge part of our history, but so have women in general. There is much debate as to Jesus’s relationship to women in the NT, especially Mary Magdalene. 

Even in the Hebrew bible, there can be this opinion that women are just baby machines fulfilling a typical stereotype, but on closer examination we can discover a very different story. Take Eishit Chayal, a tribute to a Jewish woman written by King Solomon in Proverbs, described as a woman of valour, praising her for the love and richness she brings to the home.

We have characters like Esther, who risked her own life to save her people. Or how about Ruth who shows us the power of love, loyalty and redemption. Or how about Sarah, who was literally revered as the mother of all nations. Or how about Rahab the Canaanite prostitute who ended up being in the bloodline of Christ.

Or let’s take some names in more recent History; Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earheart (the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic), Vera Wang, Marie Curie, Serena Williams, Beyonce, Oprah, Florence Nightingale. Or, how about Mother Theresa, Margaret Thatcher, Michelle Obama or Ayn Rand? How about Mary Quant, the inventor of the mini skirt who even women themselves were outraged by!

As these names are mentioned, they will spark very different feelings and beliefs for you… but the truth is, they have ALL contributed to our history, even if your surrounding view of them is contentious.

Let’s take JK Rowling. A powerful, influential, successful woman. She is held by many as one of the greatest authors and businesswomen of all time. Yet, because of her conflicting views with the transgender community, there are calls for her to be erased by both men and women alike.

Is it ok to view a person’s ideas as contradictory to your own and challenge, confront, argue and reason…with the end result being you have nothing in common and walking away, rather than demanding that they be cancelled?

We can look back with shame and anger as to the way we have erased elements from our History. But, the question has to be asked, are we guilty of the same behaviour today? Some of the examples I have given above suggest we are. It’s very easy to cast blame on the behaviour of our ancestors, and very easily miss our own actions. We too are facing the constant wrestle as to what we support and what we oppose. For example, whether women or men, there are some figures that people hail as powerful, influential, culture changing etc, and for some, those same people are held with contempt. Much of it is connected to our moral value judgements and the constant change in philosophical and cultural ideals.

So, what causes the need to cancel and why has this become such a widespread phenomenon in modern day culture? 

It can be caused by jealousy, moral outrage, also, the rise of social media makes it easier for people to unite in masses against their perceived threat and unite over common enemies.

‘Outrage’ in itself can create an identity without sometimes fully understanding the cause. 

The way we address this is by discussing the CULTURE that creates the desire to cancel.

Jesus showed up at a time where many simply were not ready for his message. We must also be very careful that we don’t view everything through the lines of tyranny and deliberate oppression. Humans are complex and cannot just be bound by such primitive mentalities. In fact, this can lead to endless paranoia and suspicious thought and often create problems that no longer exist. 

Women have largely returned to holding their rightful place of equality in society because the culture that causes the cancelling has been addressed and challenged. Just like with religion, one must confront the premise of the argument with reason in order to bring about change. However, as with any change, it also brings with it a whole new set of consequences and challenges that we must accept as part of the ever unfolding journey.

I will leave you with the challenge posed earlier; Are we guilty of replicating an erasing mentality? Do we want to erase men because some used their power immorally to erase women? Do we erase businessmen because there was slavery? Do we abolish wealth because there is poverty? Do we erase white people because of the ugly history of racism? These may be uncomfortable questions but they are ones we most certainly need to ask if we are to break the cycle.

As with anything in life, if our focus is on the problem and obsessing over ‘what was’, we can’t move forward. The contrast of our messy history has led us into one of the greatest times to be alive. Let us not be enslaved to the past, instead let’s celebrate progress. Let’s celebrate change and let us too, whether male or female, become a legacy in our own right.


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