Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yearning for a Place in the Woods

I have a deep yearning in my soul for a place in the woods. A place we can raise our children, a place we can run around naked to our hearts' content, a property large enough to share with other like-minded folk.

I have had this dream for years now. It is not a particularly unique dream, as it goes, especially not among pagans. I think so many of us long for a wild community gathering space, and many of us have ventured out and created such spaces. Of course, being pagans, every pagan property has its own energy, intentions, and structures. 

On most of these properties that I have been privileged to visit, I feel fed. I, too, long for an Excremeditation Chamber like at Lothlorien (the cat's pajamas of composting privies), or a bath house like Short Mountain, or the magically tricksy wilds of Cerren Ered that shrink and enlarge and can snare even the most experienced resident into lostness. I see the children being creative and radiant and doing their own thang, and my heart leaps with joy for them. I see the more fey residents of these properties, the ones who fit there perfectly but do not fit so well in "mundane" society, wandering about very naked, adorned with wild things, avoiding most of the festival crowds. 

I dream of this with an intensity that is almost physically painful. I dream of living in a configuration that causes me to get up in the morning in my own space, step outside to the natural world, and walk to my destinations in order to visit, to cook large meals, to garden, to meditate, and most everything else. I can see myself being much older but still spry from hoofing it up and down the side of the mountain. 

And at this time of the year especially, I long, I yearn, I pine like bad poetry for land I know I will live on for the rest of my life so that I can plant bulbs, a dozen or so each year, and watch as more and more of them come up in brilliant color every year, greeting me, greeting the sun, an affirmation of life, cycles, and commitment.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Vote for a Male Birth Control Pill

In poking around in the blogosphere, I stumbled on this fact I had never really thought about before: women have a choice of 11 kinds of contraception, but men only have two: condoms and vasectomies. And, if gender bias were not an issue and the research were being funded and made a priority, we could have a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) for men. It could work through hormones, though there are sexist fears that the side-effects of testosterone might make some men feel unmanned. It could work by stopping ejaculation, since ejaculation has no effect on orgasm, but that might make some men "freak out". The research for a male birth control pill is 50 years behind the female birth control pill, due in part to these gendered stories. 

I think this is a crying shame. A pill to stop ejaculation? All the orgasm, none of the clean up? Sounds awesome. No more socks or towels with their special home by the bed. Less worry about condom efficacy. No more choice between permanent birth control (snip snip!) or latex sheaths. I wonder what kind of effect it would have upon the tantric goal of male multiple orgasms? Would it make them easier? Common, even?

Even better, a male birth control pill could help even the contraceptive playing field. Both (or all) sex partners would be able to be equally responsible for prevention of pregnancy. It would empower men to better control whether or not they are sowing seeds. It would take the onus of birth control off of women and bring more equality. And it could get men in to see their doctors annually, like women do now for their female birth control prescriptions. There are a lot of benefits to that, as I understand it. 

Also, what about the fact that vasectomies are much easier and less invasive for men than tubal ligations are for women? Could a male birth control pill be easier and less risky for men than female birth control is for women, with its elevated risk of blood clots and all? 

"Permanent" birth control, also known as "getting fixed" or vasectomy/tubal ligation also comes with all kinds of strings attached. There are mandatory waiting periods, minimum age requirements that come only after 20-25 years or so of fertility, minimum procreative requirements of so many kids, of these sexes, etc. If a sexually active man really wants to make sure that he does not accidentally father any kids, his choices now are to rely on condoms with their 16% ineffective rate or jump through the hoops and hope someone will give him a snip, thereby foregoing a change of mind or incurring the expense and inconvenience of a vasectomy reversal. 

I sincerely hope the money and research on this one gets stepped up, because it sounds to me like we are past due for this one.  

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Heavy Substance Use Contributes to Failure to Thrive

(Apologies for the day-late post, I got back into town later than I had anticipated.)

I just got back from spending several days visiting a close friend and former housemate at the pagan community she has moved to, about 5 hours away. She first went up to those pagan lands on an art retreat last August, and one thing led to another and now she has moved there. There are several different properties owned by pagans in the area, several of them contiguous. She started out in a tiny room in one of the multi-purpose cabins on one property, but has now moved to a two-room cabin complete with bathroom and kitchen on a neighboring property with more of a community identity. 

I hadn't seen her new place yet and wanted to support her in getting settled, etc., so I headed up there post-equinox festivities. Her new community has been there for about 30 years, is owned by one man, has multiple residence buildings mostly built by the owner, and is about 5 acres. The owner's daughters were in town, so I spent some of my time hanging out in the social sphere with him, his daughters, and other friends and community members. 

At one point the conversation turned to "community meetings" and how terrible they are. The owner said that he recently found some old agendas for their business meetings, and they were all the same. The problems of communal space cleanliness/maintenance were generally at the top of the list and from his perspective he could never understand why everyone didn't hold to their agreements. 

I asked him if those agreements had been negotiated or dictated, and he said they had been negotiated, implying that everyone had ownership in their collective chosen strategies. That leads me to wonder where the problem actually lies. Were they really negotiated, or were others marginalized in the process of creating the agreements and he did not see or understand that? Did they try changing their strategies much over the years, or did they keep getting what they were getting because they kept doing what they were doing? 

Or, as I rather suspect, did substance use get in the way of personal responsibility and consistency? No one seems to be into anything "hard" that I could tell (not that I have any expert experience at that), but there is enough heavy drinking, etc. that I suspect that regular intoxication may be a culprit. 

And in thinking about how such substance use negatively impacts community projects and community life, I wonder about the poverty level on property and how the substance use affects it. It would be very interesting to me to know what percentage of income gets spent on substance vices like alcohol, cigarettes, etc. For some, I would not be surprised to learn that half their meager income goes toward addictions or intoxication-based lifestyles. 

Of course, it is an impoverished area and the only jobs nearby are tourism-based, so a lot of what's available are service positions and minimum wage. That definitely contributes heavily to the poverty and scraping-by on property, but substances probably contribute heavily to why the community has experienced a sad failure-to-thrive. I heard a lot of frustration and anger behind the conversation we had about the mechanics of community contribution, and I really do think that stepping away from a substance-friendly culture might clear a lot of that up. 

Of course, that is also an unlikely course of action, since it is the owner who leads the way on the regular heavy intoxication.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Adventures in Guyland

I've been increasingly fascinated with masculine gender studies, and have stumbled across several things that have piqued my interest. I am currently reading Guyland by Dr. Michael Kimmel. I haven't finished it yet, but one concept that really struck home for me is about gender police. 

Guyland is specifically about the life stage of "guy", somewhere between boy and man, usually running from ages 16-26. Kimmel is a sociologist, and has done extensive research and interviews all across the country. For a while now, I have said that I think the next step in toward gender equality is to unpack "masculine" in much the same way that feminism has unpacked "feminine". Kimmel seems to correlate this. 

He says that if he asks a young woman what it means to be a Woman, she will look at him confusedly and say it means whatever she decides it means. But if he asks a guy what it means to be a Man, there is a definite answer. To me, this says that the idea of being a Woman has been unpacked; there is no set answer, no particular rite of passage or quality that equals womanhood. But the idea of being a Man has not been unpacked. Kimmel works on unpacking it by pointing out the "Guy Code" that is really about never showing or having emotions, keeping silent about things other guys do that bother you, and the culture of protection in the community that says boys will be boys, and they are our boys so they must not be capable really of doing violent things. 

He goes on to say that boys are subjected to much more gender policing than girls are. Everything boys and guys do gets labeled by their peers. If at any point they fail to live up to the Guy Code, they will be called "gay". "Gay" means less than a man, and gets used as an epithet almost ubiquitously. "That's so gay." "Those shoes are gay." A guy does not want to be called gay because that makes him a target for harassment, bullying, and possible physical violence, and so he tends to "correct" his behavior and work hard to stay unnoticed. 

I found myself feeling very depressed after reading the first few chapters. It is all a little too true for comfort, and speaking about these unspoken rules highlights how destructive they really are. I have, however, continued reading, and find that as I understand more of the dynamics at work, I am coming back into a more hopeful place.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Saga of the Wedding Invite

So my partner and I decided we would email our wedding invites, because obviously that is easier than printing, signing, stuffing, addressing, mailing, etc. Simple, yes? But then it occurred to us that we could make a blog site for the wedding where all the info would be in one place, rather than in easily lost/deleted emails. And then it got complicated. 

We created a new email address for the wedding, and then started a blogspot with that email. We know we need funds rather than china and kitchen appliances, so we decided we also needed a way for people to give us money online. And of course, since email and websites are so impersonal, we decided we needed a video of the two of us asking people to come to the wedding. 

I did several hours of research of the best way to receive cash gifts online, and in the end, surprisingly to me, PayPal won. The specific wedding registry sites at minimum were PayPal powered with PayPal fees, and then other sites went as high as 8% fees. Therefore my partner and I created a specific wedding PayPal account. We then needed a link for people to click to give us money. Oh, no, it has to be a button. But there is no "Give" or "Gift" button precoded by PayPal. Had to be a custom. Didn't find an image to our liking, so we made our own in Then had to put it into the button code generator for PayPal, and then copy it into the blog site. 

And as for the video, well, that was exhausting. I have a webcam in my computer. We made a test vid, but even less than a minute was too big for Blogspot's Google Video hosting. So, YouTube. Made a special wedding YouTube account, tried to upload test video. A long time later, it was up but played 4x faster than it should have been. We looked like robots on speed. So, our phones, perhaps? Uploaded a test from that. This time the image played right, but the sound was bad to nonexistent. So in the end we let YouTube robocontrol my webcam and recorded direct to YouTube, even though the quality was lower than we wanted. 

Big sigh. Took us probably 14 hours of work all told. I ended up sitting on the whole project for a day or two before I sent out the actual email invite that links people to the website. I was just burned out on it all and needed a break before everyone told us how cute we were and how annoyed that we didn't finish our jokes in our video. 

Next step: creating the spreadsheet to track RSVPs and gifts. I think I'll wait a bit before I tackle that one. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Behind the Curtain of the Single Narrative

I'm still not fully comfortable with how I managed to express myself about my admiration/enjoyment/envy of non-white aesthetics. I think there is something deeper for me to look at here, and so I want to try again. 

I subscribe to a blog called adipositivity, which posts a weekly photo of a fat (yes, that word has been reclaimed) person, usually a woman, dressed in whatever she chose to dress or not dress in, surrounded by (presumably) things that she loves or that represent her. I love this blog. I love it because there is a part of me that is tired of the singular cultural narrative that says all people worth looking at in media are thin. Seeing these photos portraying fat positively feeds me in a way I find difficult to express. I find it . . . yummy. 

The same holds true for when I see Barack Obama as president, or Hillary Clinton on the political stage. Personal political opinions aside, I feel fed when I see a black man in power among all the old white men, and I feel fed when I see Hillary in her salmon suit among all the blue power suits and red ties. It gives me hope; it quenches a deep thirst for diversity. It shows me that things are changing and other voices, important, capable, wise voices are finally being heard and taking their place among the decision makers.

I also subscribe to Nil Doctrine, and this post fed me, too. I have a visceral joy over seeing non-white faces in media, doing and singing and speaking in ways that are celebratory of themselves and outside of the stereotype-fest, limited-singular-narrative that I get fed by mainstream media. The way the light shines in Sister Rosetta Tharp's cheeks brings me joy.

So perhaps what I am really and inadequately trying to say is that I crave a diversity of people in everything and am impatient and bored with the singular narrative of people-worth-showing being white, thin, etc. I am so bored with it that my whiteness bores me as well. Almost everything my dominant culture mainstream media has presented to me has been about white people, with a few rather insulting niches prescribed for people of color. 

And in South Africa, I experienced firsthand how much more there can be to that narrative, how much more human we can be if we stop playing these racist and marginalizing games. I saw behind the curtain of the single narrative, and have craved the experience of more yellow and more hair in twists and everything else ever since.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tasty Noshing Makes Wedding Planning Easier

The Wedding Planning Party/Meeting went well. I admit we were nervous and spent a good bit of time cleaning the house and worrying a bit about dealing with that much family all at the same time, but in the end it was not too painful. Many many thanks to my sister the chef who brought a spread that still has me muttering in stunned awe. I had asked if she would provide a little something to nosh on, and she came through with multiple dishes that ranged from French to Vietnamese to Brazilian. And all with a one year old and a two year old rampaging through the house.

After we had all eaten, I got out my notebook and everyone looked to me to get us started. I had a hard moment there where I had to say, um, well, I don't know where to start, we are stuck. My main Priestess and my sister were right on top of things and jumped right in, confirming 1. We have a date, 2. We have a venue, 3. Do we have a time? and it all flowed from there. 

Turned out that there is less that we were missing than I was afraid of. Really, I think we just needed permission to do it the way we wanted to, and needed those more experienced to check our work, so to speak. We are doing this on a shoestring and as easily as possible, but it is hard to ignore the questions that run along the lines of, "What do you want for your flowers? Well, of course you will want flowers here, there, and everywhere, and in all of these places, and given to all of these people, and well, what do you want?" That is usually the point where I get stuck, since I can't imagine having that many flowers (or a cake like that, or music like this, etc.), but suddenly feel like what I want is probably the wrong answer, and maybe my partner wants that and I need to check in, and wow, what do I do now? 

But now we seem to be on the right track. We will probably be making an invitation video to go out with our email, and send along a link to a place where people can give us start-up money in lieu of presents, and it will be good. 

Oh, and the biggest news of all is that the parents agreed that the best way to handle the paganness of our wedding is the way we were planning to do it. We will be open and up front about it, include the fact that there will be some participation involved, and that if anyone feels uncomfortable participating in a pagan ritual, we would still love it if they came to the reception. That relieves a lot of my worry; I have been quite concerned that I might get beat over the head by some of my Christian aunts and uncles.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Loving Twists and Wishing I Could Look That Good in Yellow

I've been reading a very interesting blog called Stuff White People Do. I have been working to educate myself on my own privilege and marginalization for a while now, and this blog has been helping me recognize some of my own whiteness. 

One recent post talked (in part) about white people's attitudes towards black hair, othering it, thinking of it as exotic, more interesting, etc., and wanting to pet it like a "goddamn dog". This struck enough of a chord in me that I decided to come here to my own space to ponder my own thoughts and feelings on the issue. 

The larger issue here, as I understand it, is how white people tend to feel a sense of entitlement to everything regardless of whether it is a white thing, and to feel comfortable appropriating or exoticizing cultural/racial/religious/etc. markers for ourselves when those same markers bring a lot of prejudice and marginalization down on the people of color who have them naturally/innately/natively (I don't actually feel fully comfortable with any of these terms).

I personally think that I do not exoticize most black attributes because of the time that I spent in South Africa in a community where I was very definitely a racial minority. I became very used to being a racial minority and to seeing blacks as a majority. I lived with a local black family and was very willing to have my American racial assumptions challenged. I very much enjoyed having my paradigm altered, actually. It felt like a relief to be able to talk about, acknowledge, and otherwise recognize race and racial issues publicly (yes, this is very much a white thing).

One particular opinion that I developed from this experience is that my particular skin color (a golden-peachy variant of white), does not go well with the bright color palette of clothing that I would love to wear (and felt inspired to wear from my experiences in South Africa), but that the same set of bright colors tend to look much more fabulous on browner or blacker skin. Even the beiges and taupes look better on browner skin than they do against my own personal coloring. 

I also am of the opinion that natural black hair is beautiful, and I am particularly fond of twists, not that I saw many twists in South Africa. I have several black (African American) friends now who choose to keep their hair natural (I hope I am using the right terminology here), and I love it from an aesthetic point of view. I also acknowledge that there is a strong political aspect to their hair choices, but I admit I do not understand (nor am I sure that I, being white, could fully understand) the full ramifications of it.

If it were possible to separate black hair and skin from the racist contexts of our culture, I would still have the same admiring opinion. And yet, I know that it is impossible to make that separation and so I find myself working to not cross the line into exoticizing or appropriating. I personally think that I admire many different and diverse forms of beauty in the world without assuming a white "normal" or any "normal", but I also realize how there is a minefield of racism and historically racially charged assumptions and language on this topic, so I feel very uncomfortable trying to navigate these discussions. I want to be careful not to do more hurt and harm, and feel insecure about the degree to which I have managed thus far to educate myself about these topics.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Asking for Help with the Wedding

My partner and I have had the goal of getting our wedding invitations out as of mid-March, to give guests 6 weeks notice, and that is after we sent out a "Save the Date" at the beginning of the year. That means that we should be finalizing all our plans, figuring out what we are going to ask for in the way of presents, who to invite, how safe it is to invite which members of the family to the pagan ceremony, how to broach the pagan ritual part, etc. 

And we realized this week that we have no clue what we are doing. Neither of us has ever planned a wedding before. There is a core of a few things that we definitely want, but there are many other things that have to happen that we really don't have an opinion on. We are feeling intimidated and therefore stuck on the whole process. Not good. 

We decided a couple of days ago that it was therefore time to ask for help. We are both quite independent, and I especially am bad about saying, "Oh, no, I know what I'm doing, this will be easy," and then getting a little ways further down the road of my project, looking around, realizing I have no idea what I am doing, but feeling too proud to go back and say, "Sorry, I was wrong, I really do need help."

Well, we need help. I have now made the emergency phone calls to both sets of parents, my sister, and the friends who will be Priestessing. They have all agreed to try to come on Sunday for an afternoon Wedding Planning Party, and my sister is even going to knock up a bit of food for us to nosh on. I had thought initially that we should make food, but then Dad told me I should ask my sister the chef, and she was rather enthusiastic about saying yes. 

I feel much relieved. Hopefully it will all be easy and quick. Here's hoping. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reproduction is Psychologically Messy

Gloria Steinem also said, "every child has the right to be born loved and wanted." This and the Dr. Tiller quote of "Trust Women." have become the cornerstones of my opinions of reproductive rights. 

I also found this article from Sociological Images about young adult attitudes about unplanned pregnancies. I find it interesting that of the young adults (ages 18-29) who say it is very or somewhat important to avoid pregnancy right now, an overall third of them would be pleased (very or a little pleased) to find out they were pregnant. Also, the men are much more likely to be pleased than the women, and that holds true in every categorical breakdown included in the graphs. The analysis in the SI article really just points out how the data contradicts some of the stereotypical assumptions our society makes based on gender and race and then asks for ideas about why.

This all goes back to my growing suspicion that we as a society feel terribly conflicted about reproduction, above and beyond the "abortion debate." Gloria Steinem also pointed out how our society very much withholds support for parenthood and creates a hostile environment for it. So on the one hand, we would love to believe the fiction that all babies are blessings, loved and wanted, and on the other hand, we hate having to face the fact that there is no logical rational reason to have a child because in our society they are a financial dead weight for at least 2 decades and have far reaching consequences on our social lives, living arrangements, health, and every other aspect of our lives. 

So, sure, all babies are good little blessings, IF they have the right timing: right parents, right financial stability, right circumstances for love and welcome, etc. Not that any of us potential parents are ever going to get those circumstances exactly right, but given the proper impetus (hormonal urge to procreate, emotional/spiritual desire for kids, terror and excitement over an unplanned pregnancy, falling in love with your biological child that is in your arms), if we have the right tools to work with, we can figure a lot of it out. 

It is just hard to admit, I think, that there is that much play in what is right and wrong in these reproductive situations. It would be easier on our psyches if there were a clear cut rubric of Yes, have baby, No, do not have baby, or even better, Yes, you may be fertile, No, you will be temporarily infertile until the timing is good. But that's not the way our evolution-programmed reproductive systems work, and I think the best way to deal with that is to Trust Women to best decide if their pregnancy will produce a child that is Loved and Wanted, as is that child's right.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Fulcrum for Deconstructing Gender

Gloria Steinem was in town recently and I had a chance to go down to campus to see her. I best liked the Q & A at the end. One thing she said is that we (our society) now knows "women can be equal in the world outside the home. We still don't know if men can be equal inside the home." She went on to say, "For men to raise children as women do is not a punishment, it's a gift."

This concisely expresses something that I have felt but haven't been able to put into words. I have followed several different discussions about the next step for men in the transition to gender equality. I have heard a young woman, presumably out of a third wave feminist context, ask older women, presumably from a more second wave feminist background, ask how women should be helping men deal with the ongoing shifts in gender dynamics. And I heard the older women reply, "Nothing," and explain that the men have the privilege, let them use it to figure it out. I have been a part of a Men's Monologues that was inspired by gender equality and the Vagina Monologues, only to see a lot of unexamined privilege undermine what was otherwise a rather profound and funny show. I have read some of the "Men's Movement" books from the 1990s, and I have read a few accounts and critiques of a feminist men's conference that was held last year.

The thought I have is that it is time to unpack the idea of masculinity and what it means to be a man. The feminist movement has done this with femininity and what it means to be a woman, greatly expanding the "definition" to include the spheres of in and out of the home and removing the boxes of assumptions around marital and motherhood status. This has not yet really been done at an effective societal level around masculinity, especially concerning what Gloria Steinem called the "cult of masculinity," which basically encompasses the harmful masculine stereotypes men take on to "prove" their manhood.  

And yet, unpacking something that big takes both a lot of time and dedicated motivation from the relevant population (who, notably, are privileged and therefore less likely to decide the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same). However, Gloria Steinem's frame of the spheres in and out of the home makes for an excellent applied situation that gives a great starting point. 

One of the most effective ways women unpacked the social construction of "feminine" was by fighting their way into the workforce and up the corporate ladder. The philosophical project of unpacking their gender roles was not the main motivation, of course; far more mundane and practical matters drove the changes. However, applying this to the masculine means that men fighting their way back home and into the diaper bag could and would help effectively unpack the social construction of "masculine." 

I think Gloria is right: working towards reframing "men taking care of children as women do" as a gift instead of a punishment is a fulcrum that could help tip our social philosophies into a wider deconstruction of gender altogether. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Poetry is like Gravity

A couple weeks ago I went to the tail end of a poetry workshop that was a part of a larger weekend event. It was there that I realized that I had lost my poetic voice. When I was in school, I used to write the kind of poetry all teens write. I remember I had a whole set of poems about the joys of driving, and another running theme was definitively, often rhythmically, sexual. But more than that, I was deeply involved with the Literary Arts Magazine in high school and received acknowledgment from teachers and peers as a poet. 

That changed when I got to college. I submitted to the LitMag there and was rejected except for two lines taken out of context. I read my work at an open mic and an older woman came up to me and said, "You think a lot, don't you," which sounded critical to my ears. I lost confidence, and even though I have continued to write prose and a lot of my creative prose blends into the poetic, I have really stopped looking for poems or playing with the poetic form. I decided at the recent workshop that I would like to reclaim and rediscover my poetic voice.

Since I am such a lover of NaNoWriMo, I thought I would do a NaPoWriMo for myself (this does exist independently of my project here.) I decided that since NaNo is 50,000 words, I would do 50 poems in one month. And since I didn't want to wait for the 1st, I decided I would go Dark Moon to Dark Moon and wrap up on March 15th. 

Poetry seems to be like gravity. As soon as I relaxed my muscles, so to speak, I fell right into it. I have been prolific. I could easily write 100 poems this month, or more. I sit quietly and the poems are like many colored ends of yarn poking out at me from all directions. All I have to do is grasp their first lines and tug, and voila! out pops a poem. 

I cannot claim that all my poetry is good, because of course it isn't. And at one point about a week into the project, I wrote a poem about how much I dislike my poetic voice for over-dramatizing everything, but then I just kept on going. A project like this is more about quantity than quality, and the experiment over the perfect. I have written some awful poems. But I have also written some very decent ones, and a lot that I would deem good enough. 

Perhaps after the 15th I will begin studying poetry again, looking for what it is that sets good poetry apart from the bad or indifferent. I suspect it is the quality of the poem to inspire, surprise, and create empathy through its use of imagery, sensuality, and comparison. 

This has been and continues to be a very interesting project. I am glad.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Food Poisoning Officially Sucks

I apologize for my lack of posts last week, I got food poisoning from bad sushi. I will be posting daily this week (MTWThF) to make up the missed posts. Enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shifting Sands of Gender in Romance

I've been noticing how romantic tropes are shifting due to changing gender roles lately. Going back into books and film from the 70s and 80s, there is a common theme of "really, ideally, women are soft and vulnerable and men are hard and competent." In many cases it seems almost as though it is a "doth protest too much" kind of situation, as if these gender roles need to be defended, which is probably accurate given strides in feminism and so on. He is arrogant, she is vulnerable. His life is over controlled in a logical way, she brings balance by understanding the more chaotic nature of emotions. Her warmth saves him from being cold, and he gives her life meaning. She belongs to and is a possession of his.  

But this begins to change over time. The heroines begin to get stronger, more assertive. The heroes then get even bigger, badder, more dominating. It seems to be a statement of "yes, woman, you are strong, but really you like it when man is stronger." Every dominant woman really needs to be tamed by a more dominant man. Yes, women might be getting more dominant, having more power, but we must keep the balance in the Force, so men just have to step up to their A game and tame the willful filly. 

Then enter the theme from the late 90s on of "woman, learn to control your power or the world will be destroyed." This gets into a lot of sci-fi and fantasy story lines so that women can come into sudden supernatural or magical powers and then they don't learn to use them properly, something awful happens, and then the women have to go get training, usually from men on how to use power. I think this is probably commentary on fear of women's power even as it acknowledges the sociological shifts. 

I am finally seeing some romantic gender dynamics where the hero and heroine fight for dominance, but instead of it being a given that he will win and she will surrender into a happy ending and his paternalistic care, now I am seeing more of the woman fighting for partnership. She is not making him prove himself as a man dominant enough to alpha over her, but instead is demanding respect and partnership for herself so that they can have more of a relationship of equals. Suddenly the men of these story lines seem to have a lot more self-doubt and self-reflection than before. And they all appreciate and are attracted to the power and strength of their women instead of wanting to tame or own it. 

There is another story line that I would like to see. All of these stories start with alpha men, and it is the ideal of what an "alpha" woman/paragon of virtue/ideal heroine is that has shifted. I would like to see the idea of alpha male change as well. As a general rule, these heroes are cool and controlled, keep their emotions tightly locked away from the world, lead men or go their own way in a maverick sense, and are generally competent at inflicting violence/offering protection. 

I am excited to see where the shifting sands of gender leave the definitions of masculinity. Femininity has changed, the vise of gender is being pried wide open to disclose the spectrum between the poles, and now let us see how the masculine morphs as well.