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INT. STUDY – NIGHT 1

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The house is dark – and quiet, except for the sound of Rachel’s fingers clacking across her laptop keyboard; she’s still hammering out the introduction for her True Blood talk… 2

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True Blood Reenacts the Goddess Persephone's Ordeal of Abduction and Rape...or Self-Directed Sexual Initiation? Opening a Vein on Woman-Centered Sexuality 3

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…ideas come but fall; littering the floor like crumpled casualties. Read her abstract line-by-line? No, waste of time… 4

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key concepts form objectives trajectory guiding framework If only there were some way to briefly outline her talk and induct panel goers into it… 5

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A thump as her head hits the desk in exasperation. And then… 6

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SILENCE 7

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Cross-eyed and tired from hours hunched at her computer, she pushes her chair back and rises. Yawning, she shuffles into the bathroom, flips on the light, and steps into the shower. 8

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Soon, soft tendrils of steam are rising – and with it, her spirits. Something clicks. A smile curls on her lips. She’s got an idea… 10

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OK, maybe not just like ; but inspired by …Digital Kitchen’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjooosDIFgQ True Blood credits in HD: “gateway from the real world…” (Kimmel, 2010, p. 3) set the stage complex layers of imagery quick-shot “takes us from our living rooms and into the world of True Blood” (Kimmel, 2010, p. 17) recurring motifs that are the focus of the show OPENING CREDITS! …just like 11

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PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Associations joint conference, Science Fiction and Fantasy Area: Special Area: TRUE blood WAITING SUCKS So here’s the True Blood Reenacts the Goddess Persephone's Ordeal of Abduction and Rape...or Self-Directed Sexual Initiation? Opening a Vein on Woman-Centered Sexuality N O W OPENING CREDITS 12

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YOU’re invited t‚ enter A world… 13

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…WHERE BON TEMPS IN RURAL L‚USIANA “A PLACE SMALL ENOUGH TO LET THE DRAMA BECOME HUGE”...FAR AWAY FROM THE SCRUTINY OF OUR EVERYDAY THOUGHTS AND REASONABLY CAPABLE OF MYSTERY” “A CERTAIN FEAR AND DARKNESS” 23 CIVIL WAR BATTLES RACIAL LYNCHINGS (rogers, 2010, p. 48) “A PLACE CROWDED WITH GHOSTS” 14

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( IS THE setting for A modern-day EPIPHANY of the Demeter-Perseph‚ne MYTH “About myths, it is striking that the same myth can refer to either initiation or sacrifice, to natural maturing as well as to the most unnatural violence” (burkeRt, 1996, p. 75) 15

in Two TRUEblood sexual story arcs :

in Two TRUEblood sexual story arcs one centered on Tara Thornton… …the other on Sookie Stackhouse …both culminating in scenes featuring a white nightgown reminiscent of a wedding dress 16

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WE viscerally enc‚unter THE characters & themes of perseph‚ne’s mythology “like they are real, not just an archetype or a symbol, but a psychic force still making their way in the world today” (ward, 2006, p. 146) 17

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each of these story arcs – which bear both similarities and marked differences res‚nate in different ways with the classic story of descent, death and rebirth from 7 th -5 th century BCE (austen, 1990) … both versions of it 18

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THE WELL-KNOWN PATRIARCHAL GREEK VERSION OF PERSEPH‚NE’S ABDUCTION AND RAPE (austen, 1990) 22

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(gadon, 1989) …AND THE FEMINIST IMAGINING OF THE ORIGINAL PRE-OLYMPIAN SACRED STORY IN WHICH THE G‚DDESS HAD A FREE AND JOYOUS SEXUALITY 23

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Produced as A VISUAL, multimodal, experiential TALK 24

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* ** Cycling between TRUEblood and the mythology it enlivens, we’ll look at a few standout elements ‚f both carnal encounters & explore the charged concepts and themes of SEX and sexuality THEY ILLUMINATE 25

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Virginity sex-roles & stereotypes Pleasure Initiation the erotic Violence, dominance and rape attitudes toward sexually autonomous women the sacred sexual 28

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disclaimer talk contains mature images & content reflecting its pr‚vocative and adult themes 29

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N‚ COPRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED all rights to TRUEblood belong to HBO, credit is ascribed to sites where images appearing here were originally found Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use 32

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Perseph‚ne’s mysteries confront us with the divide between Goddess and patriarchal consciousness 33

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Drawing upon 800,000 years of art; a collection of the world’s images of the sacred feminine – both archaic & contemporary - Chosen for visual impact and cross-cultural perspective *clusters of art feature a representative piece sketching its historical, archaeological, mythological & anthropological context, all other figures are indexed And myth, histories, and poetry; prose, chants, guided meditations & ritual to help you experience this talk inwardly & respond with feelings and imagination 35

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We WILL Identify models for sexual and b‚dy sacrality – both female and male contextualize modern notions about sex & gender revealed in TRUEblood within the shift from egalitarian to dominator societal structure explore w‚man and sex-positive cultures 38

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BASED ON AND ANALYIS & CREATIVE SYNTHESIS OF TRUEblood SEASONS 1 & 3 LITERATURE REVIEW IN WOMEN’S STUDIES, POP CULTURE, MYTHOLOGY, RELIGIOUS STUDIES, HISTORY, 19 TH CENTURY & CONTEMPORARY FICTION 39

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WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY RACHEL e. seiler lmsw, ph.d This TALK – INCLUDING PAPER WITH CITATIONS, POWERPOINT WITH HYPERLINKED TEXT & IMAGES AND ARTW‚RK INDEX – IS AVAILABLE AT: WWW.PIERCEDPOMEGRANATE.BLOGSPOT.COM IN LEUI ‚F HANDOUTS (GREEN IS GOOD!) !) Rachel.Seiler@hotmail.com 41

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the South, religion, bigotry, death and sex (Kimmel, 2010) penultimate image of libidinousness female licentiousness, or…maybe, a sign of the sexually sovereign woman? “a working class, Bible-belt bayou” (Poole, 2010, p. 76) …depends on your worldview

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“a shift in the human condition as fundamental as the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden” (Ward, 2006, p. 69) a social reality of many women’s lives under the emerging patriarchy (Gadon, 1989) 43

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Systems thinker Sally Goerner (2001) suggests a speedy rethinking is crucial because we can destroy ourselves more rapidly and more thoroughly than at any other time in history. transdisciplinary theorists call for paradigm shift (Morin & Kern, 1999; Nicolescu, 2002; Plumwood, 1993; Wilshire, 1990); a new vision to replace the dichotomous thinking forming the bedrock of modern society & its many ills. The “great turning” thesis self-generated metamorphosis; civilization transforms as a result of pressure, pushing from inside-out. shifting root metaphor from mechanistic to web and ecosystem metaphors shifting root metaphor from mechanistic to web and ecosystem metaphors paradigm shift underway we are reaching critical mass from mechanistic to web metaphor (Goerner, 2001) The Goddess is reappearing in our midst as a symbol of healing necessary for our survival – a transformation of consciousness that holds promise of renewal (Gadon, 1989) 44

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the earth’s fertility the agricultural cycle woman’s life cycle *initiation & sexuality the natural intimacy of the mother-daughter relationship the primordial union between life & death *my main focus overlaid tale of kidnap and rape obscures original theme: “the flowering of daughter’s gentle nature into compassionate womanhood” (Gadon, 1989, p. 150). 45

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knowledge of a different kind (than what is the case and what is true) – tales call for empathy. “The tale is the form through which the complex experience becomes communicable” (Burkert, 1996, p. 56). Tara & Sookie’s story arcs illustrate dynamic tension of an evolving mythology for our times; which path/pole will we choose RE: the representation of power, control, sexuality, the feminine, the masculine in our culture? a cosmology; a form of condensed history summarizing centuries of social, political and economic change in one story teaching devices which transmit the values of a culture; because they are alive they change to meet the needs of the people (Austen, 1990). “something that never was and always is” ~Jean Houston (Mendel, 2009, p. 17) the organic truth of the mythic tale archetypal relevance exists in temporal construct; imaginal realm in which new forms evolve (Mendel, 2009) 46

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The Maiden’s Tragedy female puberty initiation is at the heart of this “female fairytale”; stories in this category exhibit the same basic structure and clearly parallel motifs. Pattern differs from the heroic quest and follows a sequence reflected in Persephone’s myth. (Burkert, 1996) 47

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note the wondrous, magical, glowing narcissus that lured her into the trap “Begging for pity and fighting him off, she is dragged into his golden chariot” (Homer, Hymn to Demeter , II. 11. 19-20 in Gadon, 1989) 49

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shades of “her uncle Hades” theme in Sookie’s arc - Uncle Bartlett Vicki Noble echoes Sookie’s abuse (which, since it wasn’t penetrative rape, Sookie minimized as “just touching”): “Women today are remembering their early sexual invasions . The father, stepfather, grandfather, brother, uncle – all the males who should be protecting young girls until they are old enough to leave the nest – are fucking them against their will, even before they have developed the will” “…modern women are determined to get out from under the devastation of these early childhood experiences” (1991, p. 194) 50

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“secret clefts” (Spretnak, 1989) vagina-shaped fissure signifying rebirth sacra vulva of archaic & living Indigenous cultures 51

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Mary Frank, PERSEPHONE, 1985 The fragmentary reclining figure of Persephone with her great mane of hair is an image of devastation , a powerful expression of the mythic them of abduction & rape (Gadon, 1989) the brutality of male-female relations in patriarchal culture (Gadon, 1989) this is a revision of older myths… Prior to the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (7 th C. BCE) no mention of rape in the ancient cult of Demeter and her daughter, nor was there rape in the traditions antecedent to Demeter’s mythology (Spretnak, 1989). 52

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PERSEPHONE’S DESCENT, 2000 BCE. Drawing after painting on the inner surface of cup. Terracotta. Minoan. (Gadon, p. 147, 1989) Her companions seem to dance or wave as she disappears into a vagina-shaped chasm in the earth ; in the right we see a highly sexualized flower sent up by the earth to lure Persephone . highly sexualized flower (s) to lure Persephone (Tara)? vulva was 1 st religious symbol, representing the doorway, entry to life, leave-taking at death (Noble, 1991) 53

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Image may instead depict the maiden’s two companions gazing down a huge black cleft at Persephone in willing descent . THE MAIDEN 7 th millennium BCE Catal Hüyük The Youthful Goddess is exuberant (Gadon, p. 28) floral decoupage mirror signifying youth and fertility? 54

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Minoan Crete both men and women were frankly sexual; exalted in proud physicality (Gadon, 1989) cooperative culture egalitarian gender roles civilization pulsing with, suffused, quickened by and with Eros … “feeling of deep connection to other people and all beings in the web of life” (Christ, 1997, p. 107); of which sexuality is a part 56

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Contrast Tara’s flight away from her “lover” (captor) 57

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The early agricultural rites of Demeter in Crete were mimetic…the people magically evoked by their own actions the fertility of the earth. This magic probably included invocation, singing, dancing, and lovemaking. The people celebrated their own sexuality i n harmony with the creative powers of nature, as natural, human and divine (Gadon, 1989, p. 158). Silbury Hill. Photograph. The Great Goddess Pregnant. Her womb is the mound, the mighty female’s body is seen in profile. Not meant to be viewed from a distance but experienced directly Gadon, 1989, pp.78-79 May Day celebrations contain vestiges of the sacred sexual rites of the past; can we tap once again into this deeper level of connection and being? 58

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harpazein: “to seize, snatch, carry off,” a term usually reserved for acts of war or thievery; the assault is violent and Persephone is unwilling (Gadon, 1989). 59

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Spretnak the invasion and conquest perpetrated by war-like patriarchal tribes that ushered in the decline of Goddess culture (Spretnak, 1989). * perhaps triggered by advent of literacy which favored development of the left-brain and its linear-rational reasoning over the meditative, artistic interpretation of reality of goddess-centric archaic cultures like: Ice Age, Old Europe as described by Marija Gimbutas, Çatal Hüyük as described by James Mellaart, the pre-patriarchal Mediterranean, Near, & Middle East and Africa, etc. (Mendel, 2009) a gradual decline in the status of women and the power of the Goddess * 60

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whatever the impulse behind portraying Persephone as a rape victim, this violent twist was added as an overlay (Spretnak, 1989) obscuring the older woman-centered culture rock murals, clay and bronze pots, & countless figurines - which were in earliest human cultures almost exclusively female 61

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Goddess = a symbol of immanence – not “a being somewhere outside of this world or a new belief system” (Starhawk, 1982, p. 11) or the opposite of male godhead. term “Goddess” applied here to images representing Ancestors, Spirits, other beings revered as Goddesses are in other cultures; used as it conveys the most power in the English language & to compensate for suppression of the Sacred Feminine (Austen, 1990). Life force, “all-that-is”; encompasses “the feminine – parts of whole missing , denied & suppressed in dominant culture – nurturance, compassion, sensuality, egalitarianism, emotions, the body & “the masculine” – balanced power, fierceness, rationality , etc. 62

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key themes repeat on global scale: vulva signs, female figurines, ancestor megaliths, and ceremonial vessels in the form of women or female breasts . Max Dashu http://www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/icons.html commonalities recur in artifacts of diverse archaic cultures; same patterns appear in more recent indigenous societies in the Americas, Africa, parts of Asia. these recurring signs reflect spiritual concerns and ritual life of the people who created them. 63

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Imagine holding one of these Goddesses in your hand. Feel her roundness, the comforting security of it. Imagine carrying her throughout your day’s work… …on your travels, sleeping with her beside your bed, waking up beside her (Austen, 1990, pp. 4-5). For 25,000 years+ the female body was revered as sacred. How might living in such a culture make you feel about women? The world? Acheulian Goddess – Golan Heights 800,00 yrs. old She pervaded… Great Goddess of Willendorf Europe, C. 25,000 BCE Lespuge Goddess France, C. 21,000 BCE Asherah 11 th -6 th centuries BCE Israel/Palestine …truly lived amongst her people 64 *at this point in the live presentation audience had opportunity to hold replicas of these figures

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dismembered Goddesses ; represent rupture from Goddess-centered world to “ dominator ” world of today. Dismemberment attributed to a male god who replaced the Goddess in every culture (Noble, 1991). Coyolxauhqui, Aztec Moon Goddess Slain by her brother new male Gods solidified authority in heavens, as did warrior-invaders on the ground, by abducting, raping and marrying women, priestesses, queens, or Goddesses of the region (Gadon, 1989). 65

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“Do you not realise, Eve that it is you? The curse of God pronounced on your sex weighs still on the world. Guilty you must bear its hardships. You are the devil ’ s gateway , you desecrated the fatal tree, you first betrayed the Law of God, you softened up with your cajoling words the man against whom the devil could not prevail by force. The image of God, Adam, you broke him as if he were a plaything. You deserved death, and it was the son of God who had to die!” (Tertullian) Left: Mary Magdalene as prostitute, Donatello, 1454-55 Right: Woman, The Devil’s Door 12 th C. CE, France 66

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Virulence of Church ’ s enforced celibacy erupted in the burning of 9 million women in Europe, the Inquisition, the Malleus Maleficarum… Left: THE WITCHES SABBATH German, 1510. brazen nakedness was a sign of witches' evil nature. Once held as sacred, female body now represented depravity …women accused of being “ carnal ” at the core, the source of every temptation for men, linked with evil, sin, & degradation (Noble, 1991) Sex = original sin (Stone, 1976) “blaming of the flesh;” (Sanchez-Grant, 2008, p. 89). Female body as site of oppression; naturally unstable, deficient, unruly Adam = soul type, Eve = of the flesh (Stone, 1976) gendered hierarchical dualisms 67

father as virginity warrior :

Ms. Magazine blog post praised “the suprisingly progressive Bill of True Blood “ who, “ Despite his reluctance to vamparent” is patient with his new vampire daughter and is a “nice trade from dad as quasi-virginity warrior”; he understands she is a sexual being & respects her relationship with Hoyt. father as virginity warrior As a teen in the 1950’s feminist writer Vicki Noble was shattered when her father accused her of being pregnant, since “on some unconscious level I must have been keeping my hymen intact for him” ( 1991, p. 196) ( “ the surprisingly progressive Bill of True Blood ” http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/06/20/whos-the-best-vampire-dad/ 68

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In the Homeric hymn, Persephone is referred to as Kore until her return from the underworld. Kore is a young girl of initiatory age; synonymous with the Greek parthenos , “ maiden, virgin ” (Gadon, 1989). Helios, the Sun God, reveals the truth to Demeter about her daughter ’ s abduction, then tries to assure her there’s no need to be angry, Hades is a worthy son-in-law, a member of her own lineage 69

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“ We experience our collective annihilation repeatedly, psychically and physically, as a woman is raped every thirteen seconds in North America… ” (Noble, 1991, p. 3). 70

Rape as dominant social and cultural metaphor for behavior :

physical rape of women paralleled by rapacious attitudes toward the Earth itself… with unholy glee we enter “virgin” territory…she must be conquered, reduced, put in her place…The Earth must be entered, emptied, changed. She can be made to “yield up her secrets”. We will have from her what we need (Razak, 1991, p. 165). Rape as dominant social and cultural metaphor for behavior this link is shown in the myths of Persephone and of the Japanese Sun goddess Amaterasu (Austen, 1990). primary model for the interactions between developing nations and the dominant Euro-Western cultures 71

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“When Franklin wanted to make Tara into his Vampire Bride he went into the King’s vault of precious period clothing at the Mansion and swiped this gorgeous Victorian nightgown for Tara because it resembles a wedding dress”. http://www.ancientpythoness.com/2010/10/02/ 72

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1880s & 1890s phenomenon in England – the New Woman; she sought equal legal standing, greater economic opportunities, political equality, and s exual emancipation (McCabe, 2010). Gibson Girls “ Sookie actualizes … a fully developed erotic life ” ( Hirschbein, 2010, p. 125) “ True Blood sends a sex-positive message, at least on the surface … Sookie ’ s growing sexual self-confidence is a central theme of the show ’ s first season ” ( Cranton & Jonell, 2010, 114) p. 114). 73

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“Dracula” aroused dormant passions of 19 th century English women raised to subjugate their own needs. Affinity between vampiric and female sexuality suggested; both represented as primitive and voracious, both threaten patriarchal hegemony. The Count ’ s worst sin may have been not only rendering women capable of enjoying sex , but transforming them into sexual aggressors (McCabe, 2010). The legends of Innana contain some of the most erotic, female, and eros-positive literature known; the words of her female attendants reflect an intimate and possibly sexual relationship with the Goddess ’ body (Austen, 1990). she’s described as “dominant partner” in sacred marriage; brings her lover to her own house, is asked as the Queen of Heaven to allow him to enjoy long days at her holy lap (Gadon, 1989). 74

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Sookie’s no Virgin Mary, i.e. “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38) Issues/concerns RE: her relationship with Bill aside…she’s initiated on HER OWN TERMS 75

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fire & warmth -VS- weapons of war 78

blooming or blunting of female sexual pleasure :

blooming or blunting of female sexual pleasure Noble Middle Eastern clitoridectomies; American girls who masturbated were subjected to the same by the gynecological establishment (Noble, 1991). Australian Aboriginal story - females with clitorises so long they drag on the ground are the most active characters. When men win power, they shorten the women’s genitals. Interestingly, the clitoris is the only organ whose sole function is pleasure. (Austen, 1991) 79

…and redeemed through male participation. If the women do not conform to stereotypically “feminine” standards of beauty, their desire for each other is repulsive and a threat. Lesbianism is acceptable only given a phallocentric logic; without a penis, there is no “real” sex. From a heterocentric perspective, lesbian fetishism is not about actual female-to-female desire but about a cute show for male consumption (Rivera, 2003). :

…and redeemed through male participation. If the women do not conform to stereotypically “feminine” standards of beauty, their desire for each other is repulsive and a threat. Lesbianism is acceptable only given a phallocentric logic; without a penis, there is no “real” sex. From a heterocentric perspective, lesbian fetishism is not about actual female-to-female desire but about a cute show for male consumption (Rivera, 2003). lesbian pleasure celebrated when it ’ s a product for male consumption… 003). 80

VIDEO sexual consciousness; the forbidden fruit :

VIDEO sexual consciousness; the forbidden fruit Persephone’s Pre-Olympian initiation would have been fertile in that it was a complex, transformative experience Death, life, male, female and, above all, the irrepressible power of reproduction—all are found in the image of the pomegranate seed. It is this seed that Persephone takes within her body—literally incorporating it into her own being. With this seed, she becomes a new person: whole, mature, fertile, and infinitely more complex than before. Having tasted it, she has crossed a barrier from which there can be no turning back . (Gadon, 1989, p. 159) 81 *video disabled by conversion from PowerPoint to Blogger; please see subsequent post for video of Sookie's "awakening"

The Erotic = celebration & pleasure Shakti is the Sanskrit term for the erotic as female life force (Austen, 1991). :

The Erotic = celebration & pleasure Shakti is the Sanskrit term for the erotic as female life force (Austen, 1991). Sexually sovereign goddesses alive with Eros: 82

women empowered with the erotic are dangerous (Lorde, 1989); Lilith’s exile for her sexual independence – emblematic of the Judeo-Christian suppression of women (Austen, 1991). :

women empowered with the erotic are dangerous (Lorde, 1989); Lilith’s exile for her sexual independence – emblematic of the Judeo-Christian suppression of women (Austen, 1991). 83

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The erotic misnamed, made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation (Lorde, 1989); perverted by ideas associated with pornography (Martin, 1995). In Euro-Western culture, the erotic denigrated and relegated to so few areas of life that its remaining expressions are overloaded & distorted (Austen, 1991). We are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex – and to take the true erotic out of our sex. “… to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings ” (Lorde, 1989, p. 211). How would our society differ for men and women if the erotic’s true psychic and emotional components were fully integrated in our lives? 84

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“ Persephone’s story (pre and post-Olympian AND Tara and Sookie’s) tells of death and re-emergence, “both in the natural world and in our own psyches”, “process of soul-making” (Austen, 1991, p. 72). Tara as living 19 th century author Margaret Fuller’s theme of “having been her own Redeemer, if not her own Creator”… …”creative spiritual force of awakened womanhood” “regenerate and self-reliant womanhood”, (Gatta, 1997, p. 34) “woman’s capacity for fecundity and self-reliant renewal” (p. 36) Women are choosing to heal ourselves from the world illness of Patriarchy. We have no choice. We are having a collective near-death experience , and the blinding light of it is showing us how to transform our lives ” (Noble, 1991, p.6). female shamanism , a gradual mastery of oneself, and a healing or recovery from the chronic dis-ease of our time. 85

Sookie-as-virgin :

Sookie-as-virgin Themes (Gatta, 1997): “ mystique of surpassing purity and latent sexuality” Beautiful Charmer; chaste and more or less free of desire though erotically alluring to others The Divine Woman as Minister and Mediator toward sinful man (Bill professes she is “ his miracle ” who allows him to once again contact his humanity) a binary vision with no middle ground: Eve and Mary, Vixen and Virgin, “either sacred beyond belief, or whores from the pits of hell”. (Parlour, 2009, p. 3, ¶2). 19 th C. American literature of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harold Frederic, Henry Adams, T.S. Eliot 86

alternative view of virginity - whole unto oneself; sexual autonomy is a reflection of political freedom (Austen, 1991). :

alternative view of virginity - whole unto oneself; sexual autonomy is a reflection of political freedom (Austen, 1991). “virgin” goddesses: Diana/Artemis the Huntress, Kwan Yin, Diana/Artemis of Ephesus 87

Tara as Shakti Woman, deep Feminine and Dark Goddess:

Tara as Shakti Woman, deep Feminine and Dark Goddess Black woman in Ntozake Shange’s play sang “ i found god in myself / and i loved her / i love her fiercely” …”feeling the call of the Dark Goddess – the deep, serious will-to-live…” (Noble, 1991, p. 7) end of Season 3 - a new Tara, leaving Bon Temps. Is she reasserting her female life force; the need for black femaleness in a culture that devalues blackness and femaleness? 88

Through the lens of gender AND race:

Through the lens of gender AND race "white colonial society simply denied the 'rights of womanhood' to black slaves" (Abramovitz, 1996, p. 60) - particularly in the South. “A female’s dark looks diminish her femininity” (Rivera, 2003, p. 133). After the slave trade outlawed in 1808, inhumane "breeding" of slaves emerged. Threat of sexual assault from white masters and overseers was constant. Virtually all of the slave narratives contain accounts of the sexual victimization of slave women. Tara and Sookie’s arcs may be answering to stereotypes of black life as primal, sexual, violent. 89

Slave narratives originally appearing in "We are Your Sisters: Black Women in the 19th Century" by Dorothy Sterling, documenting rampant (sexual) abuse :

Slave narratives originally appearing in "We are Your Sisters: Black Women in the 19 th Century" by Dorothy Sterling, documenting rampant (sexual) abuse Ma mama said that a nigger ' oman couldn't help herself, fo' she had to do what de marster say. Ef he come to de field whar de women workin' an' tel gal to come on, she had to go, He would take one down in de woods an use her all de time he wanted to, den send her on back to work. Times nigger 'omen had chillun for de marster an his sons and some times it was fo' de ovah seer. I don't like to talk 'bout dem times 'cause my mother did suffer misery. You know dar was an overseer who use to tie mother up in the barn wid a rope aroun' her arms up over her head, while she stood on a block. Soon as dey got her tied, di block was moved an' her feet dangled, you know, couldn't tech de flo'. Dis ole man, now would start beaten' her nekked 'til the blood run down her back to her heels. I asked mother 'what she done fer ' em to beat and do her so? She said, ' Nothin 'other dan 'fuse to be wife to dis man'. (Abramovitz, 1996, p. 64) 90

should not be seen only, or mainly, as victims. Despite slavery, black family ties persisted, and slaves, both men and women, resisted their subordination.:

should not be seen only, or mainly, as victims. Despite slavery, black family ties persisted, and slaves, both men and women, resisted their subordination. we see some of this in Tara's character development and story arc; she is depicted as a strong self-educated woman she has directly challenged men Bill over the issue of slavery in his family Sam over what she perceives as his racism in their sexual relationship Andy and Bud over what she views as illegitimate police power …we must consider slavery’s legacy Might her sexual relationships be problematized in part due to the history of female slave's sexual exploitation by white men- especially given Franklin - her rapist and captor ’ s - racial identity? 91

new/old models for sex and body sacrality – both female & male :

new/old models for sex and body sacrality – both female & male “Restoring the erotic…is a political act… …There are many sex-negative attitudes in straight, gay, and lesbian culture. …To experience dynamic relatedness and to integrate one’s sexuality and spirituality are huge contributions to the evolution of life-affirming consciousness” (Martin, 1995, pp. xi-xiii). 92

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In a culture that associates women ’ s bodies with prurience – a morbid sexual desire; a propensity to lewdness, animal, marked by an appetite or passion of the body - we can come to a self-possessed, resacralized carnality of the female body through the concept of the self-blessing ritual . “ It is a woman ’ s own self-blessing on herself; her own divinity is honored in a ritual with herself. It is a self-affirmation …” (Budapest, p. 269, 1992). No division between the mundane and the sacred; we don ’ t need someone else to mediate our experience of the divine. In this, we are virgin – whole unto ourselves. Self-Blessing Ritual 93

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“ Z., how can you allow biology to become destiny again? ” (p. 271). (re) sacralized female body and sex 94

Use images to: :

Use images to: Picture goddesses in public places or in your living room, or that you make offerings to them daily, as people have done throughout time. Try somatic research ; take the pose of a Goddess to find out more about her qualities and what she conveys. If physically difficult, do as much as you can, or use imagination. Try moving as she might move, speaking what she might say. Let yourself become her; let her become you (Austen, 1990). 95

We need new images of masculinity (Christ, 1997):

We need new images of masculinity (Christ, 1997) Many men uncomfortable with our culture ’ s image of male heroes as warriors, conquerors of women and nature. Growing number of men (i.e. writers Ralph Metzner , Tim Ward , etc.) have discovered in the civilization of the Goddess a vision of a culture that affirms their search for a “non-warring, non-dominating social system” (Christ, 1997, p. 7). Rasak (1991) suggests that in a society that wishes us to see men as devoid of all feelings, let us hold an image of men as nurturers: “ Nurturing is not a genetically feminine attribute. Tears and laughter are not the province of women only. The last time I looked, men had tear ducts. They had arms for holding babies. They cared about their children. And they cried at births. Let the shared experience of childbirth reclaim the human soul ” (pp. 94-95). 96

Slide 97:

Alan Ball wants Lafayette to embody the masculine AND the feminine . .. what IS The Masculine, what IS The Feminine - can they be rigidly defined, or are their boundaries porous? Terry Bellefleur , self-described as "a nurturer"; an odd juxtaposition with his military background 97

In conclusion…:

In conclusion… Talk was not meant to be exhaustive or authoritative Aim was not to t o idealize women over men or to paint broad brushstrokes romanticize or appropriate other cultures ...no culture represented here is perfect, virtually all from 3,000 BCE to present have overlays of patriarchy and its attendant ills: sexism, racism, colonialism, classism, homophobia, etc. (Austen, 1990) call for a retreat to the past. …although many scholars of archaic Goddess-based cultures agree that they showed all the signs of peaceful egalitarianism - as Gadon (1989, p. 377) writes, "We cannot - would not - wish to return to some golden prehistoric age; but in reclaiming our lost heritage we can build upon the values encoded in the prehistoric survivals". 98

Slide 99:

Please accept my deepest gratitude for attending my presentation and for being such a wonderful audience! 99

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