Yesterday, a sweet anonymous person on Tumblr asked me about how to integrate feminist thought and ideals into Hellenismos. I answered them then that I have always, proudly, called myself a feminist. I will fight for women’s  rights, I will kick glass ceilings until something—either the glass or my  toes—gives, I will stand up for equality between the sexes. I will do a lot to  ensure equal treatment of men and women. As a woman and self-proclaimed feminist, the questions I get asked most by outsiders about my choice of religion are how I, as said woman and feminist, can worship a pantheon of raping Gods and why I would want to recreate the religious (and partly social) practices of a masochistic society. I went on to explain that much of this negative view stems from the perceived role of women in ancient Hellas—which I, as a woman and feminist—should be against, obviously.

I gave them this post, which states that I believe mythology--although taken literally by me to discover more about the Gods--is reflective of the culture they were formed in only in so much as The Real Housewives of [insert city]' is of ours; it shows daily lives of beings, but in a dramatized and overtly shocking manner. Not that I am equating anyone on The Real Housewives to the Gods, let me assure you.

Because much of what has remained from ancient Hellas was written, created, or otherwise preserved by men, it's easy to get a lasting negative impression of women in the ancient Hellenic society. In fact, until a couple of decades ago, that was the prevalent notion in the scholarly community. I grew up believing all women in ancient Hellas were good for was breeding strong sons. It's a very one-dimensional view, and one that has been proven incorrect again and again and again in more recent years. It goes on to list the virtues of women in ancient Hellas.

I ended my post to the sweet Anon by saying that especially in ancient Hellas, religion was so entwined with daily life, they would not have understood that there was a difference between religion and culture, but we know that difference exists today. Every single practice, for them, was tied to the Gods and Their worship. We try to reconstruct the religious practices of the ancient Hellenes, but in general, we do not reconstruct their culture.

Anyone looking to reconstruct an ancient religion needs to do so with a firm and clear head on their shoulders. Always ask ‘why’ something was done, and try to understand the reasoning behind it. Reconstruction is not a matter of ‘doing something because the ancient Hellenes did it’, it’s interpreting the practices of the ancients to form a modern religion our shared Gods can appreciate and relate with. The ancient Hellenic gender roles were never a religious practice, and cultural practices, we can leave behind; we already have a culture and while it’s far from perfect, that’s what we work with today.
The sweet anonymous person who asked me the original question got back to me this morning. they write:

"I can understand the virtues that are promoted and I agree with them, I can even understand 'rape' in a mythological context but it is very hard for me to look past the parts I don't like or agree with in favor of it "working" for me, but it's very hard to say whether or not they enjoyed the role or if they had no choice but to enjoy the role. And when you're using the words of men who were a part of the society, it seeps into the religion as well. I would like to say that I respect how you've chosen to build your practice and am glad to see honest commentary on these issues, so thanks for taking the time to delve deeper." 

Hellenismos is not for everyone. Reconstruction is not for anyone. Many reconstructive Traditions draw from societies that had strict gender binaries and it's often reflected in mythology. That said, I have mentioned before how male Gods don't necessarily come out looking particularly good in the binary either.

Once more, I would warn against trying to place a modern ethical standard onto an ancient society. It serves absolutely zero purpose to anyone to judge the ancient Hellenic culture by the ideals we're still struggling for today; after all, I bet that a few centuries from now, humanity will look back on this era and find us equally ill-evolved when it comes to issues like race, gender, and sexuality. We don't have it figured out yet, either, so we are hardly one to judge the ancient Hellenes.

From a feminist standpoint, I get the resistance to ancient Hellas and the way women were treated. I will be the first one to say that ancient Hellenic women were--in general--treated very differently from the men. All I am trying to say is that the value judgement you attach to this difference is inspired by modern thinking--and modern thinking has no place in ancient Hellas.

As for modern worship; no one is asking you, as a woman, to assume the role of an ancient Hellenic housewife. Sure, I'm drawn to that, but I still work, I have my own life, I go out, etc. I love to be a homemaker, but at the same time, I am also kurios for our household--a traditionally male task.

I can't stress this enough: culture is not religion, and while their culture inspired the ancient Hellenes in their religion, there are a lot of cultural issues we have either adapted to our times or left behind completely. We have also adopted practices the ancient Hellenes would flinch at.

What we are doing is reconstructing an ancient religion in the framework of our modern culture. This means you get to take certain liberties with it--although where the line is between Traditional Hellenismos and Reformed Hellenismos is always hard to determine.

If you can't, in good conscience, find a way to accept the bare bones of a religion, then perhaps you are not meant to follow that religion? It needs to feel right--natural--or you will not be able to carry out your duties and the virtues asked of you with a clear mind and a loving heart. Many ancient societies had less of a gender binary, or allowed their women different things. Perhaps reconstructing the practices of those cultures is more for you. Region is a very personal affair, and it has to feel right... and only you can decide if it's right for you.