An Open Letter to Ruth Barrett and Supporters


Sundown Style was created, as I said, so that I may express my ideas on fashion and beauty, show off my beadwork, and review albums released by female-fronted metal bands.  However, occasionally there will be posts like this, focusing on my spiritual experiences as a woman, and as a Pagan.  I will also discuss some LGBT ideas now and then.  That said, I need to respond to a rising issue in the Pagan community, concerning Ruth Barrett and her new book.


An Open Letter To Ruth Barrett and Her Supporters:

As a Lesbian and feminist, I am saddened by the divisive purpose and nature of the text which is now being crowd-funded.

Feminism, at its core, is the belief that women can fulfill any role that men can fill.

When we dismiss women who were not born with female anatomy, we dismiss our allies, and relegate them to second-class, not worthy of respect.

The feminist movement, in its third wave, is about the rights of women to have control over their bodies, freedom from patriarchal violence, and the dignity to lead any life they might choose. Transgender women deserve this right as well.

By eschewing the transgender movement, we are not, in fact, supporting the rights of women, but in fact detracting from them. We detract from them by continuing to allow our culture to dictate what gender roles mean, and what constitutes feminine or masculine, and even to hold one as more valuable than the other.  We do this because we are still placing ourselves above others in a gender-based hierarchy.

The transgender movement is not eroding feminism. Rather, it is expanding on a concept of equalism, in which all genders have equal rights, respect, and dignity in the eyes of society, and hopefully the law.

So this is what I want to say to you:

  • I am a woman whether I wear denim and leather and drink with the guys, or silk and lace and gossip with the girls.
  • I am a woman whether I embrace my powers of fertility and creativity, or whether I am a destroyer and justice seeker.
  • I am a woman whether I wear pink lipstick, black lipstick, or no lipstick at all.
  • I am a woman whether I have full breasts or I am flat-chested.
  • I am a woman if I have flowing hair and full curves, or I have no hair and a man’s build.
  • I am a woman whether or not I bleed monthly.
  • I am a woman even if I carry a wand or a dagger in my rituals, and no they do not have to be viewed strictly as phallic!
  • I am a woman, whether in high heels or mud-caked hiking boots.
  • I am a woman, whether I am building a home or cooking a meal.

I must say that I will never allow ignorant views to enter a large group ritual of mine. Men, women, and all other genders, will always be welcome.  Because the gods and goddesses of this world, both beautiful and strong, live within and around us, and to them we are all equal and valuable!


Vanessa Blackwood


Update June 29


I’m adding this note because I realize my feelings were fairly heated at the time of writing my original letter.  And in the heat of the moment, I wasn’t as clear, or fair, as I usually am.  I decided to write this after reading the post on Son of Hel, Let Them Fight Part II,

which laid out the two sides of the transgender debate better than both sides did themselves, in my opinion.

So here’s the deal.  I have no problem  with women-only safe spaces, which Ruth Barrett seeks to create.  My problem is two-fold.  The first is the dismissal of women who do not fit into feminine gender roles, or who were born with male anatomy, as being fake or second-class.  My second is holding a female-born women’s ritual in a setting where trans women might feel excluded, without specificly making it clear that A: there will be a space for all women regardless of anatomy, and B:  that this ritual is intended for female-born women.  I do not believe the transgender movement is erasing the fight for women’s rights.  The two movements should be allied, under the banner of equalism, but they unfortunately are not.  I am a cis-gender Lesbian female, and happy to be so.  I am also a transgender ally, and a feminist.  And I bet I’m one in a crowd when it comes to holding both those views.  So while I won’t take back my furious statements from before, I will say the Dianics are welcome to their space, as long as those who are most visible in their community don’t put down other gender-based ideologies in order to raise up the voices of women.  I’m not a Dianic, but I am almost exclusively someone who works with various goddesses, especially dark and warrior goddesses.  The thing with fighting, which can be a very feminine trait, (destroy as well as create), is that if the two armies with similar goals are not unified, their chances of success are severely damaged.


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