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Damned with Faint Praise

From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: Damned with Faint Praise (fwd)
Date: Fri, 05 Mar 1999 14:07:08 -0800 wrote:
> I'm curious what your reaction to this post might be.  the bit 
> about Crowley's chauvinism won't be new, but whether you 
> agree as regards intelligence as compared to sex I'm curious. 
> thanks. :*

First, chauvinism refers to a Mr. Chauvin who contended that his nation
was the best; hence, *male* chauvinism needs a qualifier, always. 

Second, my brief comments follow, and i shall cc them to the

> Tim Maroney wrote:
> > ...when dealing with "women" as a class, AC is sometimes purely
> > negative, and other times weirdly pseudo-feminist. The passage I
> > mentioned in "The Law is for All", for instance, effusively 
> > praises women, but what it praises them for is making the 
> > enormous  sacrifice of "living the life of a cow," accepting 
> > incarnation in  the weak, stupid and ugly female gender, purely 
> > in order that the  race may go forward. To him the only point of 
> > women even existing  is childbirth, and he says so at a number of 
> > places. This is not so  much "damning with faint praise" as it is  
> > "damning with exuberant praise based on offensive and demeaning 
> > stereotypes."

Well said, Tim! The only thing that would have made this paragrpah more
convincing would have been further direct quotes from Croley. 

> Shedona wrote: 
> I wonder if any of that had to do with the era in which he grew up?  
> It strikes Me that in the Victorian era, much of what was touted as
> woman-ness and taught to girls to make them "ladies" was geared 
> toward fulfillment of those demeaning stereotypes. 
> [long social and class history analysis snipped.]

The trouble with people who view the "Victorian era" through the lens of
Masterpiece Theatre is that they fail to recognize that during the very
time that Victoria reigned, women were demonstrating for equal civil
rights in both America and Europe. They were GAINING these rights, too!
Here are three examples, specifically taken from the esoteric and occult
communities of the time: 

1) In the 1880s, a lodge of Freemasons in France declared that it was
their "human duty" to initiate women as Masons -- and they founded the
first Co-Masonic lodge. They were Victorians, but they were not male
chauvinists. For details on the "Droit Humain" lodge and the subsequent
development of the Co-Masonic movement in the 19th and 20th enturies,
see my web page 
  Freemasonry for Women: 

2) In the 1880s, Alice Bunker Stockham, the 5th woman to become a doctor
in the U.S., wrote a book on sex-mysticism called "Karezza." As
preparation for this book she travelled to India and studied tantra
yoga, which she then syncretized with her own Quaker faith and her
previous readings of the sex-mystical works of the American Rev. John
Humphrey Noyes. In this and her other books (e.g. those on gynecology
and midwifery), and through her work as an advocate for woman's rights,
dress reform (e.g. an end to the wearing of corsets), family planning,
and craft-education in schools, Stockham exemplified the freedom from
repression and the commitment to social causes AND to occult, esoteric
wisdom that Crowley believed women were incapable of accomplishing. 

3) In the early 20th century, Claude Bragdon,a Theosophist and sacred
geometry theorist who was also an architect, wrote a series of books on
metaphysics and esoteric symbolism. This man, a contemporary of Crowley,
was born in the 19th century, yet he dedicated his book "The Beautiful
Necesity," written circa 1915, to "The Delphic Sisterhood" and in it he
proposed the theory that women's rights in the mundane world must be
guaranteed if men and women are to achieve progress in the realm of

The founding of Co-Masonry and the widespread popularity of the
published works of Stockham took place when Crowely and Bragdon were
pre-pubescent! They came of age AFTER these folks had paved the way for
women's equality in esoteric initiation and in sex-mysticism. Crowley
was a contemporary of Bragdon, with whose works he was doubtless
familiar, as they shared mutual acquaintances, yet compared to Bragdon,
Crowley was a political reactionary, and worse, a woman-hater who saw
women as "living the life of a cow."

Don't apologize for Crowley's grotesque gender-bias by calling upon the
myth of "his era" or "his class." The late 19th and early 20th centuries
were times in which women were increasingly seen as necessary partners
for men, in all realms, practical as well as occult. 

Crowley was no more representative of the best minds of the late 19th
and early 20th centuries than the three white men who recently dragged a
black man to death behind their truck are representatives of Jasper,
Texas. Jasper has a black mayor. It is not typical of that town to
condone race bias. Likewise, it was not typical of occultists and
spiritual theorists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to condemn
women to lives of menial child-care, as Crowley did. 

Women won the right to vote in the 1920s -- with the help of many good
men, i must add. Yet Crowley lived on, spewing his foul anti-female
venom, for another 30 years! He was a hate-filled being, not a product
of "his era," but rather a living demonstration of his own inadequacy as
a human being. He was a REACTIONARY, a counter-revolutionary in the
struggle for human freedom! Stockham died in the 19th century, an old
woman who had accomplished much good during a long life -- while Crowley
lived on until the 1940s, a ghastly woman-hater to the end!  

catherine yronwode

Lucky Mojo Curio Co:
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