How to Stop Perpetrators Like Ariel Castro From Victimizing Innocent Women

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Cleveland Police Department/AP Photo, Tony Dejak/AP Photo

The man who held three women captive for over a decade in Cleveland, Ohio has been sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years without parole. Ariel Castro claims he is not a monster and that he was a victim of child abuse. Castro also admits to being addicted to pornography before a court room of people who found it difficult to show sympathy for the perpetrator.

As a society, the time has come where we have an important question to consider: what can the mental health and criminal justice systems do to prevent these types of crimes from occurring?

The problem is two-fold:

Firstly, we have a society that rewards and promotes isolation and privatization along lines of family, religion, and even roles in the workplace. Secondly, the thought of seeking mental health assistance is still seen as taboo – sharing feelings and emotions have been marginalized by a patriarchal system – leaving individuals feeling alone in their treatments.

Castro apologized for kidnapping the women, but denied “beating and torturing the women and insisted that most of the sex was consensual” as reported on Huffington Post. Castro’s claims and statements are symptoms of a person with a mental illness.

According to CNN, Castro tells the jury: “I’m not a monster. I’m just sick. I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction,” he said. “God as my witness, I never beat these women like they’re trying to say that I did. I never tortured them.”

While some have passed this off as Castro playing the victim and pretending to have cared for his captives, it’s evident this man is mentally and emotionally disoriented.

If society had a better understanding of how to detect deviant behavior or anti-social personality traits in others and what to do about it, we could help prevent crimes from being committed. An article on the Daily Beast describes “sociopathy as not simply a disorder of serial killers but one that exists on a spectrum, plaguing to varying degrees a large portion of successful, apparently well-adjusted people.”

To sociopaths like Castro, morality and social behavior are skewed which is why professional help is required. By identifying the signs early on, we can prevent the victimization of innocent people.

There has been much clinical research conducted around psychopathology dating back to 1980 when criminal psychologist Robert Hare developed the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). However, most individuals with a predisposition to deviant behavior are not likely to book an appointment with a psychiatrist anytime soon.

Depending where they fall on the sociopathy spectrum, perpetrators like Castro lack impulse control and remorse, and have a relentless need to inflict pain onto others. A central theme affiliated with this disorder is power – Castro derived a sense of power by keeping female prisoners. It gave him pleasure to know he was in control of the prisoner’s lives through the imprisonment, devaluation, and abuse he executed.

With 12 million Americans considered sociopaths, mental health professionals, the criminal justice system, and governmental bodies need to work together in educating society on how to detect a sociopath; develop prevention programs in schools that reach out to potential sociopaths; and create a non-judgmental, encouraging space for sociopaths to seek help for their deviant behavior. This will not eliminate all sociopaths but preventative programs must be implemented to mitigate causes of such damaging effects on society.

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The Revitalization of the Goddess Through Humankind

As I mentioned in my previous post, Oh Goddess Divine, Where art thou: The Fear and Intimidation of the Goddess, I will provide a  psychological perspective on the annihilation of the Goddess as well as the social and economic implications of her diminishment. In my first post, I aimed to inform the reader of a brief history of ancient Goddess worship and how her elimination originated. My objectives in writing this post are to:

  • Discuss why it is important to engender a rebirth of the Goddess and uphold her existence
  • Provide discursive consequences of her extinguishment within a social, political, and economic context
  • Critically analyze the meaning of the Goddess and how her existence impacts and influences an individual’s life

My objective is not to outline a spiritual assessment of Gods and Goddesses in order to create another widely accepted cult, but to examine why humans need to create divine  beings to impersonate and perpetuate their existence and purpose. I will propose my analysis based on the ideology that humanity creates that which is worshipped, obeyed, denied, admired, and oppressed. Let’s begin with a psychoanalytic view of identification. How does one identify itself?

Primary identification: This is rooted in primitive and emotional attachments usually during the infancy stage. The infant doesn’t know itself because its brain is not fully developed, and its environment, both culturally and socially, has not affected it extensively; therefore, it identifies with its relations and objects. For example, the child needs the breast to feed itself; therefore, the child identifies with the breast–the mother–the Female figure. It becomes the breast given it doesn’t have any previous socialization and/or identification.

Narcissistic (secondary) identification: This stage is early on and provokes the loss and/or abandonment of an object. The child becomes aware of its environment, personality, relations with others, and itself. It begins the process of melancholia because it is forced to abandon the primal, emotional attachment with the Female figure. The one who fed, nurtured, and embedded it within her. Once she was the Goddess, the primal Mother. Now she must be unconsciously mourned because of the patriarchal-father head system it encounters.

Partial (secondary) identification: This stage deals with the subject identifying with someone it admires or wishes to become. This specifically contributes to the ego and the development of the character. As this stage, one is conscious of its desires and needs based on socialization, perceptions, and observations of its surroundings. Even its primal needs are to a degree predicated on a hierarchical order. While it continually mourns the loss of the primary identification–the Female figure, it requires a replacement which becomes that which exists.

The male representative is born-God.

In my last post about the Goddess, I take on a more positive, optimistic perspective of Her given I acknowledge that she possessed a historical and spiritual significance that transcended womynkind. However, Simone De Beauvoir in the Second Sex, states just the opposite. She proposes that Goddess worship and her significance was primarily created by men to represent the womun and her unexplained mystical identity. This of course reduces her connotation to that of men’s creation, in addition to a peculiarity which she possess classifying her as the Other. Keep in mind, this is a matter of perspective, meaning Simone De Beauvoir takes on a more cynical standpoint of the history of the Goddess. So what does that tell us about the psychoanalytic model I outlined above?

Essentially, because I’m not providing a spiritual assessment or an invitation to a new cult/religion, I base this model on the assumption that spirituality and subjects who participate within that realm are created by man. The lost Female figure in the model represents the Goddess – the primal one. The beginning and the end – the Alpha and the Omega. However, she is lost in a state of the melancholic unconscious because of the systematic processes which occur through socialization, subjectification, and objectification. She is the beginning and the end which one encounters, but she doesn’t perform a primary role during. She is forgotten because she is forced to be in order for the child to live within a patriarchal structure. Why does this matter to us?

To put it simply, when 2 things simultaneously exist, and you ignore or disregard one, it has a direct impact on the other. The one who hasn’t been disregarded typically formulates and creates a social order of some sort and objectifies the Other. This causes a rupture among the masses and creates identification processes. It causes disorder, chaos, and an imbalance. How is this repressed? Through that of social learning – imitation and models given to one from the time of birth, and it continues to learn and prevail. Wherever an oppressive hierarchy exists, a group of people are ceasing to abound in life’s glory. Therefore, the Goddess desperately needs to sprout from our unconscious so that we can truly reconnect with her truth. For so long, we have lived in a world ruled, occupied, and dominated by a masculine god – men. The saddening fact is that men suffer from the repressed Goddess as well. All of humankind continues to do so.

Her extinguishment affects every realm and dimension of our lives including the economic and political arenas. Laws, regulations, opinions, forums, theories, etc. are dictated by a world which is constructed without the Goddess, without that which is meant to exist on the same plane as the god. The formation of capitalism, mass production/consumerism, fascism, mass media production, white male supremacy, economic hierarchies, social injustice, hunger, poverty, marginalization, etc. are all the result of the forgotten Goddess – the female figure. Her thoughts, opinions, creativity, inventions, actions, love are suppressed, forgotten, and/or lost. Nothing is to her complete potential, and she is taught to live in fear, desolation, and adapt to a powerless persona unless it benefits the world that god – men constructed.

Whether or not the Goddess ever reached her full potential and existed in a world free of the patriarchate, she does exist. She is there in the depths of our minds, in the crevices of our hearts, in the trajectory of our souls. It is ultimately our choice if we choose to let her escape from the shackles which have been placed upon her. We must question what was (in history) in order to delegate what will be now. The Goddess is there, and once we relinquish her to abound in all of her glory, only then will we progress into a more neutralized, harmonious existence in this world we continue to occupy and consume.

Oh Goddess Divine, Where art thou: The Fear and Intimidation of the Goddess

In the beginning there was the Goddess and all was in harmony. The Goddess. What springs to mind? Greek Mythology? Aphrodite? Little girly fairies?  When I was living as an Evangelical Christian, I never thought about the Goddess much.

Perhaps because she’s never mentioned. The three dominant religions in the world–Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all include male-centric ideology and beliefs. The representation of the female divine, the one who controls and gives life, who nurtures the living in her physical embrace, the one related to the moon and earth, the one who heals and counsels is not often spoken about.  This post will not only provide a historical overview of Goddess worship, but analytically examine why humans have eliminated the Goddess from our minds, hearts, and souls. Questions such as how the elimination of the Goddess affects the economic, political, and social system, and why the exclusivity of the worship of male deities is destructive and oppressive will be answered in a part 2 post.

Most historians have agreed that humanity originated from Africa 200,000-250,000 years ago. At this time, a systematic society was organized whereby there had to be hunters and gatherers. Also, death was recognized as an inevitable occurrence which resulted in producing a need to create religious beliefs.

The importance of fertility in crops, in domesticated animals, in wild animals and in the tribe itself were of paramount importance to their survival. The female life-giving principle was considered divine and a great mystery. Some Goddess statutes still survive from this era. One website contains photographs of Goddess statues from circa 30,000 BCE to 1987 CE.

Therefore, the divine female became the ‘vegetative Goddess.’ Now, some historians believe that the carvings and statues they discovered of the female Goddess could be an erotic image of the ancient womun; yet this hasn’t been confirmed. This idea comes from the Victorian images we see today of the female erotica.

This “old European” culture lasted for tens of thousands of years in what is now Europe. They generally lived in peace; there is a notable lack of defensive fortifications around their hamlets. As evidenced by their funeral customs, males and females appear to have had equal status. Many historians and archaeologists believe that:

  • Their society was matrilineal; children took their mothers’ names.
  • Life was based on lunar (not solar) calendar.
  • Time was experienced as a repetitive cycle, not linearly as we think of it.

This is a liberating and empowering discovery! Our ancestors used to worship and revere the Goddess globally. Both men and womyn lived in a more civilized, egalitarian society where the worship and glorifying of both deities was the norm. How long did Goddess worship really last for? This varies based on historical documentation. Here is one overview that is generally agreed upon:

Among the first human images discovered are the “Venus figures,” nude female figures having exaggerated sexual parts that date back to the Cro-Magnons of the Upper Paleolithic period between 35,000 and 10,000 BC.

In southern France is the Venus of Laussel which is carved in basrelief in a rock shelter. This appears once to have been a hunting shrine which dates to around 19,000 BC. In this carving the woman is painted red, perhaps to suggest blood, and holds a bison horn in one hand.

Also in Cro-Magnon cave paintings women are depicted giving birth. “A naked Goddess appears to have been the patroness of the hunt to mammoth hunters in the Pyrenees and was also protectress of the hearth and lady of the wild things.”

Other female figurines were discovered dating back to the proto-Neolithic period of ca, 9000 – 7000 BC, the Middle Neolithic period of ca. 6000 – 5000 BC, and the Higher Neolithic period of ca. 4500 – 3500 BC. Some of these figurines were decorated as if they had been objects of worship. In black Africa were discovered cave images of the Horned Goddess (later Isis, ca. 7000 – 6000 BC). The Black Goddess images appeared to represent a bisexual, self-fertilizing woman.

During the predynastic Egyptian period, prior to 3110 BC, the Goddess was known as Ta-Urt (Great One) and was portrayed as a pregnant hippopotamus stand on her hind legs.

The Halaf culture around the Tigris River, ca. 5000 – 4000 BC, had Goddess figurines associated with the cow, serpent, humped ox, sheep, goat, pig, bull, dove and double ax. These things were known to the people and became symbols representing the Goddess.

Keep in mind, these are only some discoveries I have listed here and that there are many more to be discovered. I have provided an overview that, in fact, Goddess worship was a natural divinity of religious processes for a long period of time. This brings me to my second question: why has she been eradicated, dismissed from the lives of womyn and men? Firstly, it’s always an issue of power relations and competition. Although much of Goddess worship and reverence included godly acknowledgment resulting in an egalitarian societal structure, men were still intimidated by the Goddess. She held a magical power including both physical and psychic capabilities that men didn’t understand. Reverence then led to confusion which caused anger and war.

Many historians agree that the Divine Goddess began to diminish when war and strife increased. Given men were the primary entities who fought in the wars because of their general physical strength (used for violence rather than to benefit humanity in most cases), this aided them in establishing a definitive dominion over womyn.

The beginning of the Hebrew religion with its God Yahweh is said to have marked the end of the Goddess’ Golden Age. Approximately this was between 1800 – 1500 BC when the prophet Abraham lived in Canaan.

The Christian Church, and especially the Roman Catholic Church, has fought hard to suppress or root out all Goddess worship. The Goddess along with all pagan deities were labeled as evil. But, little proof has been offered for this. One notable example is The Canon Episcopi.

Even though the Church attempted to completely abolish Goddess worship it never successfully did so.

This leads me into another reason for the attempted removal of the Divine Goddess – witch burnings/trials. To clarify, ancient Goddess worship and the embrace of the Feminine Divine was not directly related to witches or witch craft, but paganism extended the evolution of witch craft and spiritual abilities. The christian church decided to gain control, power, and domination over its people and conduct witch trials/burnings.

The large-scale European extermination of individuals charged with Witchcraft or other heresies reached its peak between 1550 and 1650 CE.

Current estimates of the total number of executions of innocent people range from 3,000 (by one Roman Catholic source) to 9,000,000 (by many Neopagan sources). The actual figure, based on the examination of court documents and estimates of the number of lost records, is probably in the range of 50,000 to 100,000.

Most of the deaths seem to have taken place in Western Europe in the times and areas where Protestant – Roman Catholic conflict — and thus social turmoil — was at its maximum.

Essentially, the only reason Goddess worship and the Feminine Divine have been silenced for so long is because the fear, manipulation, and control some men have imposed upon womyn through the utilization of their physical strength. As stated earlier, the practice of witch craft, neopaganism, wicca, and Goddess worship is still prevalent today from a global perspective; yet it has been tainted and wounded. However, there was a time in history where the Goddess was admired, respected, and adored. Where a balance, a unification, and equality was treasured and revered. There is hope. Patriarchy within a spiritual context does not benefit all ‘mankind.’

My objective is to create a world where both the Goddess and God are valued, respected, and worshipped. Where differences are embraced and tolerance is practiced. An egalitarian society is established and social order is beneficial to all humankind. At the end of the day, whether or not there is a true divine, transcendental, supreme Goddess or God, there is one who lives within all of us. That is the one we should explore and discover without any limitations, restrictions, or harm.

I will end this post with an ancient Goddess prayer to inspire and revolutionize:

Divine Mother of All there is, whose essence Lies within us all and in all things.
Please fill this place with your sacred light and presence.
Please protect me and heal me.
Please bring me to wholeness and wisdom.
Make this a day of fresh starts, new beginnings.
Melt all obstacles in my path–gently, gracefully, lovingly.
Reconnect me to my highest self.
Awaken me to what I need to know next.
Let my higher self select and connect with the divine energy that is right for me, right now.
May I be uplifted and empowered by your Love.
So be it and so it is.

–Laurie Sue Brockway,
from Discovering the Goddess

For more information:
 
Three part Goddess Documentaries

THE GODDESS INTRODUCTION

Dirty Words: The perversion of the English language

Consider for a brief moment a world dominated by female pronouns, female centered language, and female linguistics being used as the norm in society. How will this affect the power structures of our culture? Humans continue to ignore and overlook the power and implementation of language in the world. This is not going to be a lesson on languages per se, but how gender specific language, performativity, and linguistics produce meaning to objects and people, specifically womyn in our society.  My intent is to educate and enlighten people to understand the power of language, and how the English language can be oppressive to humankind. Furthermore, my main intent is to raise awareness so that people can QUESTION, PROBE, and ANALYZE dominant discourse.

  • The the usage of male pronouns to stand for gender neutrality is invalid and should be eradicated. Rather than using ‘He’ to suffice for both genders, use ‘S/he’ or ‘He/She’ or ‘She/He.’
  • Fireman, policeman, mailman, chairman. These are gender specific titles attributed to both genders. Use ‘policeperson,’ ‘chairperson,’ ‘mailperson’ and so forth.

Language constructs the foundation of power relations in our society. The male pronouns are typically used to refer to both womyn and men; therefore, people perceive it as being gender neutral. That is not logical reasoning. How can something that is blatantly not neutral be perceived as being so? Why weren’t the female pronouns used which actually have the male spellings associated with it? (S-he, for example). You may inquire: Why should we care? Well, like I stated above – language is the foundation of power structures in our society. It creates and constructs a hierarchy which we conform to unknowingly. This is primarily advantageous to the male species, and womyn have not defiantly and actively questioned this oppressive form of westernized language.

During the nineteenth century, Nietzsche warned against the mistaken tendency to take grammar too seriously: allowing linguistic structures to shape or determine our understanding of the world…(Barad, 2003). This has obviously been ignored because words are simply powerful, and language is a highly effective way of communicating meaning and associations of the world in which we occupy. The use of language functions in politics, religion, culture, sexuality, education, and economics; therefore, making it impossible to disregard.

The Oppressive Embrace of Gender Specific Language

Performativity in the social sciences include the daily behavior (or performance) of individuals based on social norms or habits. Philosopher and feminist theorist, Judith Butler, has used the concept of performativity in her analysis of gender development, as well as, in her analysis of political speech (Gender Trouble). (Barad, 2003) states, “performativity is precisely a contestation of the excessive power granted to language to determine what is real.”

For the sake of my argument and intent of this post, I will focus on Judith Butler’s work dealing with the philosophy of language and linguistics. Her foundation predominantly relied on Foucauldian theory. Foucault simply believed power is exerted throughout society through discourse by the dissemination of knowledge. This then controls and constructs people’s’ realities and beliefs within a society including language and linguistics in relation to gender construction.  The exclusion of female centric language and linguistics is detrimental to the female species in all disciplines and practices. Furthermore, it limits womyn in possessing or gaining autonomy and agency in the public arena where they can have a direct influence and impact on society.

The way language, linguistics, and meaning has been constructed in the English language is through the male. The way HE speaks. The way he perceives the world around him. The way he thinks and behaves. To accept and conform to the ludicrous idea that the English language is gender neutral is invalid. For example, performativity represents meaning through the visual fields such as pornography. ” Pornography makes the world a pornographic place through its making and use, establishing what [wo-men] are said to exist as, are seen as, are treated as, constructing the social reality of what a [wo-man] is and can be in terms of what can be done to her, and what a man is in terms of doing it” (MacKinnon, 1993).

How can we operate in a truly egalitarian society when the history of the human language is male formulated? This is a perturbing question that cannot be ignored if we as a human race believe womyn and men are equal in their rights. Language, the way we communicate through representation, semiotics, meaning should be independently expressed through the female species.

Womyn should no longer be represented and perceived as:

Masochists, Subordinates, Objects, Secondary citizens, solely mothers/wives, seducers, temptresses, mistresses, etc. These are titles and descriptions of the female species through a man’s experiences and consciousness developed and incorporated in the English language to signify the subordination of womyn. So how do we construct and constitute the social reality of what womun is through language? Perhaps, we must unravel and form an original approach to the English language through womyn’s own consciousness and experiences? One unsettling criticism of this is how can one undo centuries of oppressive and limiting language that has constructed an entire gender? This is truly the insurmountable challenge I propose to womyn and men. One suggestion that I use in my daily life is changing the spelling of words to be legitimately gender neutral.

Some examples include:

S/he, Him/Her, Womun, Womyn, God/dess, Chairperson, Sistory (History). There are many more and you can utilize this change in the English language. It’s  powerful and delivers a vital and revolutionary message that womyn desire to possess agency in the world they occupy and represent themselves as an independent entity.