Sigh...Yes, I am talking about Zsuzsanna Budapest, the name most associated with Dianic Wicca. It seems everyone is talking about Z Budapest's refusal to allow trans women to attend a female-only ritual at PantheaCon last year, with a repeat 'performance' at the same conference this year. And I say 'performance', because I sincerely hope this wasn't a publicity stunt dreamed up by Z's publicist, because it has become incredibly poor public relations for her with the Pagan community at large. Zsuzsanna Budapest has up until now been a respected name, a woman who came into to her own during the Feminist Movement of the 70s. A woman who has inspired countless others to become wholly the woman they deserve to be through her writing and many personal appearances. Someone who was revered as the expert on women's mysteries in the Pagan community. Z Budapest, the person to turn to when you need to deeply explore your womanliness and find your inner strength. A keeper of the Goddess....and for some, the Goddess personified.
No more. In the last few months, Z Budapest has become an anathema and the butt of jokes in the Pagan Community. This was caused first by her openly spewing personal hatred of men, and then by expressing her bigotry toward transsexual women. Her rhetoric has become so hysterically hate filled that she has become a 'character', an oddball, someone who we point at and say is not all quite there in the head. Her diatribes on the subject of who is and is not a real woman is not only hateful, it's laughable and downright embarrassing.
While it is true that women have been discriminated against since the dawn of time, that discrimination has come from those in social, political, and economic power, particularly by those in the hierarchy of specific religious institutions. It is also true that 99% of those in power have been men. The fact is that these despicable acts have also been wrought upon other less powerful, less influential men as well. It is also true that many times those men in power were supported in this endeavor by women-wives, mistresses, mothers and siblings-who desired to reap the benefit of that ultimate authoritative power. Ms. Budapest seems to have conveniently forgotten that part of history in lieu of the history she is promoting.
My life has been a nightmare at the hands of men. That is a shocking statement, even to me. It is also quite misleading. My childhood was a nightmare due to the behavior of particular individuals, several of whom were men, and I was gang raped by three men at the age of 47. The opening statement holds it's own legitimacy, but it is too broad a comment. There is a literal, defining difference between the facts and what is stated. Do I hate all men because of what I have suffered at the hands of a few? Of course not. Could I be justified in hating all men because of what I have suffered at the hands of a few? I could choose to be a victim, but I have chosen, instead to move on. That doesn't imply forgiveness on my part, it means that I choose not to become stuck in the past. I used that particular opening statement as an illustration, because it sounds very much like the kind of bombastic quasi-truth Z Budapest has been pedaling as of late. While not a wholly dishonest statement, it is indeed inflammatory, plays on the emotions and garners support from those who have their own axe to grind in that area.
I have a difficult time framing where the level of vitriol Z has for the male of the species originates. Perhaps knowing a little more about her background and point of reference would be helpful toward making me a little more empathetic. Hating half the human race because they are biologically different than you is madness, sheer, unadulterated madness. Heaping the sins of some on everyone else is in the same vein of behavior we as non-Abrahamic people see and love to self-righteously finger point at in the instance when the JudeoChristian God condemned all of the human race for the actions of Adam and Eve. It is generalized, systematic guilting of the masses for the actions of a few. But it seems to make good press, if only good in the way it has been passed through the publications and online resources normally used by our community. Other wise, it is a terrible disservice to us, because to the general public it comes off as the ranting of a crazy old woman, or worse, sounding like the stereotype of the occult practitioner who is less than mentally stable.
Many of my Craft sisters have looked to Z Budapest for guidance in the formation of their personal paths. They are well read, intelligent women, not easily taken in by gender biased nonsense. The majority of them aren't out to make the male half of the human race into villains. They do not view the possession of a penis and testicles as a crime, any more than having a uterus and ovaries. It is ridiculous to say so, and yet in her own recent words, this is what Z Budapest has said: Men are not only inferior creatures, they are out to take over and take away that which is Goddess in women. The implication that men are dirty and wanton is nearly palpable in her speech:"My conflict? Imagine a group of males banging on the door to be allowed into a all women skyclad circle. There is no sense of decency amongts them. Its occupy, and bother naked ladies."*
Sorry, that doesn't cut it for me. It's a trite excuse for prejudice. It is a ridiculous attempt to garner sympathy from the Sisterhood. Men are not out to invade our sacred spaces . They are not out to steal the sanctity of those places. They are not out to get us. They are not out to "occupy and bother naked ladies". This is crying victim where there has been no crime committed.
These are the words of someone who is carrying around the baggage of a lot of unhealed hatred, who has been wounded and is now picking at old scabs to continue the psychological bleeding. It is most certainly wrong to lay blame on every man for what another has done. This is, unfortunately, a perfect example of someone who is playing 'the victim' to the max and enjoying every minute of attention it gets her... and believing it will work. It is promoting the now unacceptable head games women of a certain era used to play when they thought they could get sympathy. It says, " Look, he hurt me, the bastard. Punish him!" I am glad to say we have indeed come a long way, baby, because we no longer have need for these games. I share the disdain for this type of grandstanding with many women of my generation who have found more constructive ways of solving our internal conflicts and unabashedly reply:" Suck it up, Buttercup and put on your Big Girl panties.Get over it!" Indeed, we have transcended that immaturity and channeled our personal power into making genuine inroads to improving our lot...without histrionics and public outbursts about what others have done to us.
Z Budapest's loathing of men is so enveloping that it extends to transsexual women. It is so complete that she denies the existence of such: "You cannot become a woman. No doctor can change your male brain. Nor can they create a woman on the famous operating table. So where are you transiting to? Its a illusion."*
Fact: Some individuals are psychologically tuned to be the sex opposite of that into which they were born. Your gonads are only half of the picture. Having lady parts or guy parts does not determine who you are. That individual can be male in a genetic sense, yet be wholly female in gender identification. Trans women are not out to subjugate biological women, because trans women are biological women. My friends who have gone through years of conflicting mental anguish and suffered the humiliation of being labeled as freaks by society- and have gone through multiple transitional surgeries to become the woman they are inside their mortal shell- are not just dressing the part as if their lives were some sort of street theater. They are not out to threaten the sacredness of womanhood, as Dr.Budapest suggests:"Be careful how easy it is to quilt trip you sisters. Think what is your universe like? You get transprobes into your vagina? Where are these so called "women" when the chips are down like they are now for the real women? Nowhere. its not their concern. They are only out to "invade" womens space. Everywhere."* ( Excuse me, but just WTF is a 'transprobe'?)
And a yet another quote, which I find humorously ignorant:"The transies fight us like Marines with lipstick."*
Really Z? Is that the best barb you can come up with to get your point across after being a writer for 30+ years? Did that bit of snark make you feel uber-fem and powerful? Because what I think you accomplished was not so much insulting trans women than negating the legitimacy of female Marines in the exact manner often used by their male detractors. In other words, you just lowered yourself into making the same sort of gender insult you've been fighting against for so many years....not to mention an implied derogatory remark that women who have served in the fight for freedom of this country are some how less than women. This is not just an unfortunate choice of words, but a stupendous back flip off your celebrity pedestal onto the cement. Way to go!
And this most recent post from her on Facebook is just over-the-top in the 'They're-out-to-get-me' level of paranoia:"Ladies, please look around you. Anybody could put me in touch with lawyers who care about women's issues? We need to build a global network, in order to defend ourselves. The trannies are powerful, foul mouthed and hating us women because they are never going to be us, but they can push us aside if we whimp out. There are many issues here for lawyers to ponder. I would just feel safer ." * This is just pathetic. It kind of makes me hope she's suffering from some sort of dementia rather than her actually believing this delusional rant is reality. You would think that someone who has championed being a woman to be the first one to celebrate transsexual women committing to becoming who they truly are. I can't for the life of me come up with a solid reason for her unwarranted fear of transsexuals...except maybe she's in fear of all the crap she's put out in the last year rebounding and coming home to roost. Just my opinion, but I suspect she might need more than an attorney's help with that one.
This sample display of public hubris by Z Budapest from her Facebook page is enough for some of us to be justifiably offended, but she took her personal rampage against those of us who reject the hate to a new level when she threatened to curse anyone who dared to change a single word in the chant " We All Come From The Goddess",which she claims to have written. It is one thing to claim infringement on intellectual property and quite another to put a hex on anyone who makes a substitution in the wording of a piece in the public domain. Having many friends in the creative fields of prose and songwriting, I staunchly believe in crediting the author, credit where credit is due and monetary remuneration where appropriate...but a curse? How quaintly old-fashioned! Much quicker than litigation, but about 40 years too late by my calculation. This particular chant has been assimilated into the unconscious collective of the Pagan community, so everyone has their personal take on it who has ever used it. So now Z Budapest is childishly demanding that once again, things go her way. What I believe she fails to acknowledge while lost in this particular delusion of grandeur is that there are quite a few of us who can match her
There are those of us in the community who are willing to overlook Z's outbursts as coming from an old woman in her dotage. Truly this is a different world than the one Z was raised in, but I have a hard time believing that she's stuck in anachronistic thinking. And even if that were the case, it is no excuse for blatant hatred. Saying she has slipped a cog because she's getting along in years is too easy an excuse to make. The more she rages, the more of us will examine in earnest what she's raving about., and the more of us will formulate a dissenting opinion of our own. That actually saddens me, because this is becoming a tarnished end for her. Meanwhile, the Goddess cries.
The inadvertent lesson being taught by the projected of Z Budapest's amplified bigotry is tolerance and the rejection of fear of The Other. Perhaps the Universe has found something positive in this after all.
*Asterisk denotes quotes taken from Z Budapest on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/zbudapest/posts/359777654089593