h1

Erasure of lesbian/female-centred sexuality/ancient representations of female erotic autonomy

February 3, 2008

bhag-sneha-vardhini.jpg

India has a rich herstory of goddess-worship and varied representations of female power. Sadly, much of this herstory has been, and is being, erased and destroyed. The autonomy of sacred centres of female power are being replaced by male gods or dismembered by man/ipulations.

The manipulation of older shaktic histories has severe historical socio-cultural implications as in this ban by the new practising trust. These trusts far from conserving these traditions have done a surgical operation. Sometimes, sculptures are taken out, polished and plastered over or masculinised.

The situation is no different in the disciplines of indology and art history. There is a sheer gender silence and ignorance propounded in the name of ‘objective scholarship’. Implicit in this the issue of what may be represented and what may not be. Central to this is the issue of gender cognition. . This has several social and cultural implications.

Whereas the temples under the Archaeological Survey of India by and large are preserved, yet some of the temples (particularly yogini have been manipulated). One example is the cementing of a male bhairav in the open centre of the yogini temple in Ranipur Jharial. (Orissa)The yoginis are now seen as his servants.

The sculpture [shown below] was found in the open in a a small village in Gujurat. Now it has been converted into a male god. A new temple has been constructed over it. This is the only existing documentation. The sculpture also represents an unconsorted Parvati holding Ganesh in one of her hands. It belongs too to the spectrum of the independent matrikas (above) in which one of the matrikas is represented with an elephant head. Matangi (mata – angi. mother’s limb), one of the words for elephant is a marker of a matriafocal geneology.

goddess.jpg

Check out Mahamaya. A website dedicated to preserving the archeological herstory of these fascinating female sculptures. Each page is filled with gorgeous, powerful images of the goddess. It definitely puts me in mind of Audre Lorde’s The Erotic as Power.

In her paper Heteropatriarchy: Globalisation, the Institution of Heterosexuality and Lesbians, Susan Hawthorne asks:

Giti Thadani (2004) in her research of ancient lesbian sites in India records the violence against 5000-year-old sacred stone sculptures. Why have we not heard about how the breasts of these statues have been cut off? Why is there no international protest? Is it because the statues are symbolic of lesbian existence, not just now, but back into ancient history?

Well, the answers are too obvious.
Lesbian
=autonomous, female-centred sexuality
=women who don’t need/want men
=men freaking out
=breasts chopped off statues
=men don’t care about lesbian herstory
=no one cares about lesbian herstory.

12 comments

  1. When I was in India recently I was always strongly impressed by the godesses and other representations of other female deities/persons. They spoke to the part of me that always feels so empty going into christian churches, especially protestant. The last having erased even the last of the godesses, the virgin mary.

    Especially impresive and almost magnetically attractive I found Kali the motherdeathlovegodess. One isn’t allowed to take pictures in her temples, otherwise I would have linked one here.


  2. Allecto, there have been similiar defacings of statues in Greece, Rome, the Middle East, various parts of Europe, i.e., breasts cut off, heads cut off, but for a different, but (always) related reason– in order to destroy the evidence (1)of the existence of goddess religions; (2) that women served as priests and leaders in early Christianity, before the various church councils brought that era to an abrupt halt.

    It’s such egregious (and violent) erasure of women’s herstory.

    Great post, look forward to checking out the links.


  3. They spoke to the part of me that always feels so empty going into christian churches, especially protestant.

    The last time I stepped foot inside a church I felt terrified and sick. I’m never going back inside one again. I turned away from patriarchal religion in a major way and identified as an atheist for a while. Now I am comfortable with my female-centred, earth-centred spirituality. And am increasingly interested in the many faces of the goddess.

    Heart: that’s terrible and so unsurprising. I had never before heard/come across any mention of ancient lesbian culture. It really made me think when Susan Hawthorne mentioned them in her speech. How much of us have men erased?


  4. Thanks so much for posting about this, it makes me so angry. x


  5. […] 10, 2008 by Debs Allecto has posted about the atrocious defacing of some of the most amazing, important, inspiring Go…  There appears to be a campaign against any depiction of powerful, autonomous, sacred […]


  6. This has made me incredibly angry, they really are hell bent on erasing any evidence of Goddess worship. How stupid! it’s our heritage.
    Oh yeah, the last time I went into a church I developed an ache at the base of my spine. If you know anything about the chakras then it will come as no surprise 😉


  7. […] Erasure of lesbian/female-centred sexuality/ancient representations of female erotic autonomy. Via Allecto. […]


  8. Thanks Debs and Sparkle for drawing more attention to this issue. It is just so wrong how male supremacy just keeps erasing us from existance. It is so callous and deeply traumatising.


  9. I’m not surprised that lesbians and other women would be erased from history by men–it happens all the freaking time–it’s just that few notice the absence/utter wrongness.


  10. […] also presents Pornography, stripping and violence in contemporary ‘lesbian’ culture and Erasure of lesbian/female-centred sexuality/ancient representations of female erotic autonomy posted at Gorgon […]


  11. In India the statues of both male and female were mutilated by the Invaders and you could see now in many places the destruction done to trmple art and sculpture.


  12. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: