Monday, November 21, 2005

Incendiary Feminist Propoganda

Just because it's been awhile. The following essay is still in revision, but I hope you'll forgive its unpolished form and enjoy it anyway.

Dizzy on my soapbox,


Waiting for a Sign
By Cindy S. St. Onge

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as bad publicity. And thanks to the same PR firm responsible for pile-driving Tonya Harding’s career to the molten center of the earth, the fair sex has been unduly represented as passive, receptive, servile, feeble of both mind and might. And like heirloom poster beds and grandmother clocks, we are useful only as homebound fixtures.

Attempts to emboss female brand recognition among the masses have resulted in some pretty sorry campaigns over the ages, the worst being the Venus symbol.

Originating in ancient Egypt as the androgynous Anhk, Venus has supposedly represented everything from a hand mirror-- symbolizing woman’s vanity, to the integration of spirit and matter, heaven and earth, a place in or out of time, where God and Human intersect.

I can’t remember when or where, but many years ago I learned that the Mars sigil—the canon-like drawing of an arrow pointing about 45 degrees heavenward, symbolizes an erect penis. As part of the unfair sex’s publicity campaign, Mars is the planet of war, and its symbol moonlights as iron’s symbol on the periodic table of elements. Saluting the cosmos in all of its two-dimensional glory, it is the icon of power, virility, action. This is manhood, ready for anything, throbbing its way to fulfillment.

I, for one, am not fooled by the symbolic boner, which would have the world believing men are innate go-getters and self-starters. Oh no. They are quite happy among the mold and lichen, among the fungi and vermin, among weeks of dirty dishes and decomposing laundry. They are recreating a warmer, plumbed and wired wilderness, as they feel more comfortable surrounded by dirt and growing things. So why doesn’t man have a symbol which reflects his true nature? Something porcine or cloven-footed? Something that burrows or wallows, or at least itches?

The Venus sigil—flag of female, is comprised of a circle atop a cross. Venus shows up on the periodic chart representing the soft, malleable metal, copper. I had always believed that woman’s symbol depicted a circle of regeneration connected to a cross—which to me, growing up Christian, symbolized godly sacrifice. I gloated in what I believed to be an exalted representation of my sex, and its close association with the divine. Then I discovered who was really getting nailed.

Venus turns out to be a rotated, phallic Mars penetrating a small horizontal line. It doesn’t depict woman’s alliance with God, after all. It is a headboard view of sexual congress, coital engagement, coupling, intercourse, doing it. I was horrified to learn that the female part of the sign—in total—is the receptive little crossbar. That’s it.

I mentally erased the downward thrusting arrow, leaving just the horizontal line. Here was the representation of my sex: a line, a dash, a blip, the penned equivalent of ‘um’— a mark made while waiting for a real thought worth recording. All notions of sacred circles and womby rondure—demolished. Besides feeling insulted, I couldn’t rally around an emblem reverent of egg or breast. No circle of regeneration, no honoring of feminine mystery. No praise, no shrine, no laud, no appreciation, just a rudimentary sketch, eyes and a mouth away from being a Southpark character.

Men are characterized by a statement—dynamic, complete, definitive. And women are relegated to mere ornamentation, doing little more than supporting or accommodating the statement. Hey fellas, do not stick YOUR phallus in MY symbolette and tell me that’s who I am.

And why are men are represented by a symbol that is singularly masculine, but women are depicted as an insignificant, receptive line, getting screwed by big, bad Mars, the predominant portion of what is supposed to be our symbol? All these years, I thought we had the whole glyph to ourselves, that every angle and plane corresponded to feminine attributes. Surprisingly, the boys haven’t sued our PR firm for trademark infringement.

It’s hard enough to shake away generations of societal dogma which insists I’m not complete without a man, that I’m not entitled to an identity apart from being someone’s daughter or wife. But can’t I even have my own little sign—a simple geometric representation of my unique feminine essence? I’m not asking for a monument or a Christo rendering of the Grand Canyon into a set of carmine vinyled labia for crying out loud. I just want my own sign. Peace has a sign. Mercedes Benz has a sign. No Smoking has a sign. Is it too much to ask for a glyph that has not been violated by male genitalia?

Lesbians can’t be too thrilled about the Mars/Venus intersect. Emblazoned across mugs and bumper stickers, tattoos and action figures, the double woman symbol lets the world know where a gal’s affections lie. Do they realize that two guys are tagging along? And they’re not there in a supportive, ‘you go girl’ kind of way, but in a creepy, how-many-quarters-does-this-thing-take kind of way. Even when we define ourselves by our relationships with other women—represented by what we thought was double-Venus solidarity (or triple Venus for hetero feminists), some guy is always there, clearing his throat, “Uh, don’t mind me; I’m just watching.”

The time has come for a redesign. Perhaps someone could come up with something that says, Vagina: The only genital that matters. I am partial to the tattva for earth, an inverted triangle. It’s evocative of the female pubic triangle. Or what about taking back the fish symbol hijacked by Christians? Those fishers-of-men might be reminded that the fish symbol, stuck to righteous bumpers and trunks, used to be a feminine symbol. Stand that fish up on it’s tail, and voila, Vesica Pisces-- instant vulva.

Whether reclaiming an ancient feminine sign, or creating a modern archetype for woman, our symbol should be emblematic of feminine mystery and strength, instead of characterizing women as fixtures or pets. We require a symbol which inspires awe and reverence, a sign that, when mere words fail, communicates just how very special it is to be a woman. I want a sign worthy of my noble gender.

A winner may never emerge from the bilious campaign between cable and dish. But if the archetype for woman says to the world we are screwed, I’d hate to know what our secret handshake is.


Blogger Cranky Bastard said...

You're on to us, Cindy. My gender has proudly built a platform of lies and deception. But you need not overanalyze. Look at our symbol: an arrow pointing 45 degrees heavenward? That's why we chose Mars - low gravity is good for the ego.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Cindy St. Onge said...

I KNEW it!!

5:08 PM  

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