I’ve had a few ideas for a post running around in my head for a few days now. I want to explore how gender is treated in modern Paganism, how a binary view of gender influences Paganism (most notably Wicca and those traditions closely related to it), and whether it’s a good or bad thing. However, that post is nowhere near ready to go up. However, thinking about the topic brought up a recent memory that I’d like to reflect on.
Earlier this year, Z. Budapest came to our town and held a tarot workshop at Psychic’s Thyme, in which each woman in attendance received a personal reading from Ms. Budapest. The event was well attended and from all reports I’ve heard, it was a great success.
As the event approached, I had many customers at the shop ask me if I was planning to attend. I’d simply smile and point out that I would not be attending, as the workshop was for women only, and express hope that they would have a good time at the workshop.
Apparently, during the workshop, one of the women decided to ask Ms. Budapest why she had made the event women only. She started her reply by explaining that this was a special event intended to strengthen and nurture women, and that part of that was giving them a special place free with men. I’m totally on board with her on all of those points. While I certainly would have enjoyed to meet and learn from someone as experienced and renowned as Ms. Budapest, I agree that — especially in our patriarchal society that tends to devalue and marginalize women — it makes perfect sense to say, “some things are just for the women because they deserve it.”
The ending of her explanation was a bit more problematic to me. Part of her argument was that men already have a “special place” that caters to them. She went on to say that the place in question is known as the Vatican.
As I said, I have no problem with women-only events and spaces. In fact, I highly approve of them. However, I do take issue with the suggestion — even if done in jest — that as a man, I have my own space within the Catholic church.
The first — somewhat obvious in my opinion — with that suggestion is that as a gay man, I’m not a “proper man” in the eyes of the Vatican. I don’t meet their understandings of what the proper role of men is, at least when it comes to terms of sexual behavior. In short, I don’t meet the Catholic standards of manhood and would find any attempt to do so terribly painful. As I’ve heard some feminists say, patriarchy is hell on women in particular, but it’s ultimately not good for anyone.
That actually brings me to my second issue with the suggestion. If patriarchal institutions like Catholicism aren’t good for anyone — or even if they were bad for women and perfectly fine for men in general and me in particular — why would I want to take part in it, thereby supporting its continuation.
There are a lot of patriarchal institutions out there, and the problem isn’t just the Catholic church. Some of those institutions — like my career field — would be hard, if not impossible to simply walk away from. I have to deal with the fact that I’m a part of them — and I try my best not to feed into their patriarchal nature and even do what little I can think of to help break it down. But I have no reason or need to be a part of Catholicism, and I certainly don’t want to support or endorse its institutionalized patriarchy.
If I’m going to seek out a male-only, male-affirming space, I’d much rather find one that has figured out how to be male-affirming without doing so at women’s expense.
 And I pray for the day I figure out how to stop doing so altogether. Even unintentionally.
 Though it may be more accurate to say that polarities are discussed in gendered terms, but that’s something that needs a full post to explore.
 I suspect that’s not the only place the Catholic church might take issue with my “masculinity,” however.
 Plus, there’s a good bit of Catholic theology I disagree with, being a Vanic witch and all.