One day I can be looking with great longing and admiration at the pious veiled woman of the Mosques, the devoted wife and mother, and the idealised image of the medieval maiden, of Lady Guinevere, and - stripping away the thought of any oppression and unrealistic expectations of women - I see women of kindness, devout faith, dignity, self-respect and regality. I see a face of the Goddess that has been called Maria, Kwan Yin and Sophia... I admire them and feel like they could represent my potential to be the best person I could be.
Another day I can be looking with great longing and admiration at the confident and expressive belly dancers at the Haflas, the suggestive burlesque dancers of film and stage, the image of the bare-breasted huntress of the woodlands and blood-stained warrioress of the battlefield. I see women of power, bravery, an unapologetic understanding of their beings. I see a face of the Goddess that has been called Aphrodite, Morgana and Ishtar... I admire them and feel like they could represent my potential to be the strongest person I could be.
I am torn between the desire to be pious, 'pure' and kind, and being strong, natural and powerful. (When we I say 'natural' I mean sexual - understanding ones natural, sexual-instinctive being.) One is no better than the other. And being one does not discount you from being the other at the same time.
I've found it strange that I am drawn to the more wild, sexual Goddesses like Aphrodite, Freya, Hathor, Shakti and Asherah. Surely they are nothing like me? Sensible, organised, ordered, shy and modest... How could I ever be like golden Aphrodite, who in sculptures we see, makes no real attempt to cover her nudity, who makes no apologies for her form and open sexual nature. Perhaps I was better suited to more conservative religions...
Statue of 'Capitoline Venus'
If I look properly at myself I can see that I am gentle, emotional, 'physically modest' by western standards, 'well-behaved' and romantically loyal. But I am also someone's lover, a belly dancer, defensive and driven. I could be called Madonna and Whore. And because of this, I am neither. I am not a 'perfect maiden-wife' to be placed on an angelic pedestal beside Lady Maria. I am also not Oholah and Oholibah, the bible condemned prostitutes, looked down upon and considered defiled...
I'm a woman. And I'm breaking out of these barriers that try to push us into either path. I am breaking out of these barriers that encourage the pious woman to envy her lusty sister, or the lusty woman to sneer at her pious sister.
I also encourage men to break their barriers too, with their expectation to become the Alpha Male of sexual prowess, physical strength and numbed emotional state...
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