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Katie Rose
from: Katie Rose
Category: General Discussion

Pink is the New Blue - Going Beyond Gender

June Blog - Pink is the New Blue - Going Beyond Gender

I recently saw an article in the Independent that says there is a big boom in mothers choosing pink for baby boys, which reflects the growing freedom from gender stereotypes. So here’s a few thoughts on keeping it pretty in the gender garden, with no offence intended to anyone of any persuasion.

In any attempt to discuss gender, there is a propensity to get immediately entangled in a web of contradictions, stereotypes, assumptions, preconceptions etc etc ad infinitum.  I am not here to pretend that I am free from any of this, but to celebrate that the web is coming apart at the seams and that in this incredibly creative transition period, anything can and probably will happen.  

In the movement to go beyond patriarchy, which has characterised people of all sexual identities in roles which serve no-one, there are many songs to be heard. There are wails of the wounded as they emerge from places of repression and abuse, croons of confusion from those who previously found security in gender roles, victory cries of liberation and bizarre bleats to electro-beats as breastmilk gets made into icecream.  Amongst the voices, I hear heterosexual men talking about how they don’t know what their role is anymore, I hear women feeling empowered and also disorientated by trying to ‘Do it like a dude’ as Jessie J advocates, I hear my gay, lesbian and bisexual friends’ exasperation with mainstream gender ideologies and I don’t hear enough from transgendered people in any form of media to know how they are feeling.

This chaotic chorus is highly creative - for liberation from oppressive sexual identities for people of all races, cultures, creeds and bodily parts is truly an exciting prospect and is not actually that novel.  Throughout time there have always been special spaces and rituals available where the sexual norms have been suspended.  From the Pantomime Dame, the Bearded Lady and Asexual Angels, theatre and ritual has allowed gender to be seen for the performance that it is -  just another set of costumes to try on in the life drama.

I was recently reading about rituals in Ancient Greece where in daily life strict codes surrounded women and men’s behaviour.  There were however huge regular rituals where these codes were completely suspended and subverted. Whores became priestesses, men got to wear dresses, normally subservient women were entitled to punish male gatecrashers, and maybe even sacrifice them.  It happened on high days and holy days, preceding big events and often at times of social stress, full moons and so on.

The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual) scene has much more fully explored, deconstructed and played with gender identities than mainstream, hetero-normative society which generally seems still to be either inebriated or ritualized to allow the boundaries to shift.  Drunken pre-nuptials are one social rite-of-passage where cross dressing and nudity are allowed - which is very far in intent but not so far in performative terms from a man wearing a dress administering communion wine representing the blood of a semi-naked man.   All rituals sacred and profane seem to call for a loosening of everyday modes of behaviour in order to enter into an altered or transcendent state.

To transcend - (from
trans - beyond and scandere - to climb) - means to go beyond.  The great Buddhist Heart Sutra Mantra - Gatay, Gatay, Parasamgatay - means ‘Gone, gone, gone beyond’ - and could be received as an invitation to go beyond our normal perspectives and look at the world from the eyes of enlightened ones - the Bodhisattvas who through meditation perfected tantric union of their masculine, feminine and non-gendered aspects.  When we connect with our observing/knowing self, we can take off our rose/ blue/ purple tinted glasses and look beyond the forms not just of gender but of all preconceived identities.  We can become aware of ourselves as sparks of essence passing through a number of roles and and relationships- mother, sister, brother, father, lover, carer, friend, spouse, partner, worker - as we travel at light speed through the life journey, whilst a million trillion stars glitter in the night sky.  Life is so vast and infinite that to be restricted is a game we seem to choose to play in order to learn how to both manage and go beyond it.

Which is why rituals have always provided a space to explore what ‘going beyond’ might mean.  A kirtan, choir, show, church service, rock concert, football match - all have within their core a sonic heart beat - chants, songs, hymns, prayers, choruses - that have powerful effects on brain waves and body rhythms, enabling us to relax and enter into a different state of awareness.  In this state, we can encounter each other as vibration rather than as the personal stories and identities we operate through in daily life.

Malidoma Soma of the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso, Africa has described their understanding that gender is energetic and a person can vibrate femaleness or maleness, regardless of anatomy.  Those who are gay or lesbian are seen as the Gatekeepers of the tribe who conduct a yearly symposium to determine the destiny of the village and as such are accorded great respect. He calls for the end to violence towards gatekeepers of wisdom across the world in all their various forms and the lifting of the veil or web of confusion.  

The confusion still reigns, as people attempt to both define and transcend what gender means.  
The inherited beliefs and imagery of patriarchy still have a strong hold at an unconscious level and manifest as the male-dominated leadership of many societies.   Patriarchal religions are still getting their knickers in a twist about gay weddings and female bishops, yet can be viewed with compassion as they go through a process of change and face up to the abuse that arises when sexuality is separated from spirituality.  Even in spiritual circles where it is common to advocate the union of the inner masculine and feminine in each person, the characteristics ascribed to those elements are still dualistic - with the feminine being equated with the Earth/ Moon and dark, inward, soft, emotional, yin states whilst the masculine is seen as the Sun/Sky, the light of illumination, detachment and yang states of expansion.  This overlooks for example the fierceness of the feminine that we see in a lionness protecting her cubs or the mature masculine of the wise hermit.  All gender concepts, are ultimately just that, concepts, many of which we are growing out of.  The introduction of Paternity Leave in the UK last year reflects the movement to go beyond the model of the absent or distant father.  The recent SlutMarch challenged society to go beyond the unconscious belief expressed by a Canadian policeman that a woman who is raped is to be blamed for being a slut.  There is much healing still to be done as the web untangles.

My own feeling is that I, like all other things in the universe, contain both masculine and feminine energies and a whole lot more besides.  I am aware that my inner man and woman have been programmed by cultural conditionings which require upgrading.  I attended a high achieving girls school where we all read women’s mags and compared our weights, grades and waist sizes compulsively.  Whilst the observer in me knows this to be illusory, I still find myself having difficulty loving what I see in the mirror, along with too many other women and an increasing amount of men, who may also now feel the pressure of having to look pretty in pink.  I celebrate the example that transgendered peoples set - that we can all be creative with gender and remember our innate ability to both honour and transcend our anatomy and identities. Singing takes me beyond and allows me to experience and remember the common core sonic chord, within which we each can each celebrate our own unique frequency, pitch, colour, orientation, flavour and expression.

Do come and keep it pink with me and sing your unique song:

* Sing Your Heart Out - uplifting singing -  Thursdays June 23rd & 30th - 2-3.30pm, Antenna Studios
* New Moon Kirtan -  at Evolve, July 1st, 7.30-9PM, Evolve Wellness Centre, 10 Kendrick Mews, SW7 3HG
* Garden of Roses - The Heart of the Rose - with Narayani, Lucy Crisfield & Alexander Honeymann - July 12th, 7.30-10.30pm, Inspiral Lounge
Full Details on the
Events Page of my site -

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