Paula Gunn Allen

Paula Gunn Allen’s piece illustrates the female-centric traditions of creation and mythology in the Keres Pueblo culture. One of the main points is that the power of creation not only lies with the female, but it does not lie in the specific ability to give birth. Woman has creative power outside of that biological generative definition. “In Keres theology the creation does not take place through copulation. In the beginning existed Thought Woman and her dormant sisters, and Thought Woman thinks creation and sings her two sisters to life” (343). While giving birth requires first copulation, a joining of male and female forces in an act of creation, the creativity of woman does not require man in this tradition. That independence is an important sign post to follow - a woman independently creating has no limitations on writing her own body.

Another interesting idea is that of warfare as a spiritual ritual. “Warfare among most traditional American Indian tribes who practiced it (went on the war path) was a ritual, an exercise in the practice of shamanism” (347). And in that, too, I see a more feminine way of thinking. To strive in battle for a purpose, not for power over others, but power over the self, requiring self-discipline.

In the South Park movie, one of the characters states that he doesn’t trust anything that bleeds for three days and doesn’t die. This is a misogynistic sentiment, and seemed to indicate that women were unnatural for having periods. That the flow of blood on a regular basis was something negative, outside of the norm and outside of nature. In this essay, Gunn Allen gives a contrary view: “The water of life, menstrual or postpartum blood, was held sacred. Sacred often means taboo; that is, what is empowered in a ritual sense is not to be touched or approached by any who are weaker than the power itself, lest they suffer negative consequences from contact” (353). I must admit that I prefer her view, that it is not an unnatural, unclean thing for women to bleed, but rather a physical manifestation of sacred power.

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