An interview with Lady Aquila on the direction Aristasia, the Feminine Empire, is taking today.
With the radically new look of the Aristasia Central front end, a lot of people are speculating over whether the Feminine Empire is being "rebooted" and disowning much of its past. Is that the case?
Lady Aquila: Not really. We have been trying to shed some of the misconceptions of the past and to show people what the Motherland really is, as opposed to what some outside people have imagined it is.
There has been talk about streamlining Aristasia's "front end" for a long time, because there has been this huge mess of material in Elektraspace from all sorts of people over twelve years or more. There are even kinematics on YouTube that were not made by Aristasians and yet claim to represent the Motherland. So we needed to have something clear and concise where new girls can go to learn what Aristasia actually is today.
You have six major sections in the new introduction: Love, Innocence, Gender, Elegance, Cuteness, and Faith. Those aren't the things a lot of people would have thought of as Aristasia's six most essential characteristics – except gender, of course. Has Aristasia changed course?
Not at all. Aristasians have been talking about these things since the beginning. These things are what Aristasia is fundamentally about – it is a community of love, or Amity. It is a place where we can shed the coarseness and cruelty of the current patriarchal world and return to innocence. It is a place where we can embrace elegance, neither "sexy" nor sloppy – but style in keeping with feminine loveliness and dignity. Cuteness, I grant you, has not been explicitly preached by Aristasia since the beginning – but I think the article on that subject makes it clear why we think it is important and how it flows organically from our other values.
A lot of people associate Aristasia primarily with old-fashioned "period" attitudes – and with discipline.
Well, let's take the "discipline" thing first. That is something we are very serious about shedding.
Yes, people have been noticing the strong disclaimers on the old Miss Martindale kinnies, that Aristasia does NOT practice corporal punishment today. Now this is a change of direction, isn't it?
If it is a change of direction it is a very old one! Aristasia hasn't been associated with corporal discipline for over a decade. Discipline was prominent for a few years while Miss Martindale was in charge of publicity. And even then it was much more prominent in publicity than it was in reality.
Miss Martindale very consciously used the "discipline angle" as a publicity tool. If you look at those old documentaries, you can see very clearly that she is getting the media's attention by playing up the discipline (rather shamelessly) and then using the platform to talk about the very things we talk about today – Love, Innocence, Elegance, and so forth. That is what she is talking about all the time.
She believed that discipline could play a part in being a path to these things. She believed that girls who seek out discipline are really looking for true Order and Goodness.
But you don't believe that any more?
A lot of Aristasians never believed it, even at that time. But the real point is that we have learned a lot since then. One thing Miss Martindale underestimated was the extent to which this "discipline" was an obsessive thing with many people. It wasn't with her. In fact she didn't practise it very much outside her publicity set-pieces. She felt it had a place, but not a very big one. After all, punishment is something that comes into play only when something has gone wrong, only when there is a breach of harmony. So it should never become a regular thing. If it does, something is dysfunctional.
Miss Martindale was well aware of that. What she didn't realize was that by publicizing discipline you attract people who are obsessed with discipline and punishment as ends in themselves. Nothing could be further from the Aristasian ideal. So this "discipline" thing was attracting the wrong sort of girl, and putting off the right sort, and giving quite the wrong impression of what Aristasia really is.
You even had people – you still have some people – calling Aristasia a S/M lesbian roleplay.
That's right. Again if you listen to Miss Martindale's interviews, she always hated S/M. But a lot of her work was encouraging a very wrong impression.
So was she wrong?
You could say she was naive. But remember it is always easy to be wise after the event. Also remember that probably all Aristasians tend to be naive in a certain way. We just aren't part of the hyper-sexualized culture of the modern patriarchal world. We don't understand these people; we don't know how they think. They aren't our people. How could she guess what idiocies were going to accrete around this "discipline" thing?
And again, a lot of the people who have been building Aristasia since that time only heard about the Empire because of Miss Martindale's work. It is hard to recall quite how locked-down Telluria was in those pre-internet days. If you couldn't get the attention of the mass media, you didn't exist. No one would ever know you were there. Miss Martindale played the "discipline card" to break through that wall of silence. She sold huge numbers of books. She both made Aristasia financially possible and put it on the map publicly. It was a tactic. And it worked. Thank Dea, we don't need that tactic any more.
So has Aristasia had trouble from attracting girls whose interest is in discipline?
It certainly used to be a problem. Even years after the Miss Martindale publicity storm, when Aristasians were talking about thousands of things – but not discipline. Girls would come along who thought maybe if they waited long enough they would be introduced into the discipliny "inner circle".
Of course there was no discipliny "inner circle". Even in Miss Martindale's household it was a pretty rare occurrence when the cameras weren't rolling – but after the Miss Martindale era there was really no "discipline" of that sort going on at all.
So, we had girls coming for completely the wrong reasons, and other girls staying away because they thought we might be "secretly" an S/M group. It was an absurd situation.
And not just absurd but tragic. Aristasia has one mission. It has always had the same mission. To reach out to a very small minority of girls: girls who really don't belong in a male/female world, and in particular don't belong in the current one, with its coarseness, hyper-sexuality, and ugliness.
We have never had any aspiration to be a mass movement in Telluria. We are here for the very, very few who need a Sanctuary of pure femininity, love, and innocence. That is why those are the qualities we stress. That is what we are all about, and always have been.
Why do you think Miss Martindale and her associates believed that discipline could lead to purity and innocence?
Frankly, I think it was a very reasonable assumption. It just reckoned without the absolute perversity of the late-Tellurian patriarchal culture. Miss Martindale thought that when girls were looking for discipline, what they were really looking for was the Golden Order, the absolute harmony of thamë. And in their deepest souls, perhaps they are. But what we found out – the hard way – is that for most of such girls, at the more superficial level of their souls, this was simply an obsession of a very – shall we say unhelpful – sort.
When outlanders characterized Aristasia as "S/M roleplay", Aristasians believed they were simply exhibiting deliberate ill-will and defaming us. No doubt many were. But what we didn't realize at that time was the extent that discipline of the sort Miss Martindale publicized really does mean that, or something like it, to the vast majority of Tellurians – whether they love it or hate it. We just hugely underestimated the corruption of their culture.
Having learnt this lesson – as I say, the hard way – we are now fully aware that discipline – in the sense of corporal punishment – is absolutely counterproductive in a Tellurian environment. It attracts girls we really don't want to attract and puts off girls who really need the innocence and goodness that Aristasia has to offer. And it does that because those girls know what modern Tellurians are far better than we did; and know that "discipline", in Telluria, tends to create an environment that is the exact opposite of what they need.
So we absolutely do not practise spanking and have not done so for a very long time. The only recent change is that we now realize that we need to be even more explicit about the fact that the "discipline side" of Aristasia is long gone.
I am using "discipline" here in the sense of corporal punishment etc. Of course, in the broader sense of harmony and order, of everything in life from purity of morals to neatness of dress, we still believe in discipline. In the sense of striving each to be the very best and finest we can be, we still believe in discipline. But we do not believe that should be achieved through spanking, which far too often seems to inspire in people the very opposite of purity and goodness. [See discussion thread for more on this]
Another way people say Aristasia has changed – some bloggers have written about this – is that it seems open to "modern" things like Japanese anime and has deserted the rigorously anti-modern stance. Some people even say you accept culturally degenerate things – the sort of thing Miss Trent so thoroughly criticizes in The Feminine Universe – just because they are Japanese.
Well, for a start, this supposed "anti-modern stance" has often been misunderstood. We certainly eschew the coarseness and casualness of modern Tellurian culture. We have never been against things like technology and have always been open to new things that can be helpful to the Feminine Empire.
But let us be clear about this. Aristasians are not "Japanophiles". We are not "philes" of any Tellurian nation or culture. Furthermore we fully recognize that Japan has adopted a lot of the degeneracy of the modern West, and – come to that – we are no advocates of much of the cruelty of the traditional warrior culture of Japan.
Having said that, we also look for light where we can find it. Miss Trent recognized Art Neo [roughly Art Deco] as a resurgence of light in the very late Kali Yuga. More recent Aristasians have seen in the modern sensibility of cuteness, which was pioneered in the West by Disney and brought to artistic and cultural fruition in Japan, something of fundamental goodness. Something we as a feminine nation can embrace as part of our style. Many of our girls find in certain elements of the Lolita style, for example, perfect models for a new Jenilovian look.
As Miss Annalinde Matichei says in Goldenhead, visual styles can be bearers of light and may originate in the aethyr – or if you prefer, in the depths of the human psyche – where forms that are still connected to Truth and Goodness may still be generated.
This doesn't mean we are oblivious to ways in which these styles and visual forms can be corrupted in Japan by sexual exploitation and other degenerate late-patriarchal elements. It certainly does not mean that we have uncritical admiration for any outland cultural products. It does mean that we are awake and aware of things that might be used by us for good, just as Miss Trent was.
The idea that we were ever "in love" with the Tellurian 1930s or 1950s – any more than we are "in love" with modern Japan – was always a misreading. We have always been looking at visual styles, purely as ways of expressing fundamental truths – feminine beauty, elegance, and goodness – in ways appropriate to the tail end of Kali Yuga. What people have perhaps misunderstood is that, for us, visual style is fundamentally important. Modern Tellurians tend to think it is something trivial, but for us it isn't. If people want to understand the philosophy behind this they need to read the chapter in The Feminine Universe called "The Language of Form". But just let me quote this passage from Goldenhead:
“Then you don’t really look like a Japanese anime?”
“Possibly. Possibly not. There are styles and fashions in appearance. Humans tend to think of styles and fashions as trivial things of their own making – and in recent decades, especially in their West, many of them really are, since they lack beauty and order. But harmonious and lovely styles are rarely of purely human making. They are currents in the Aethyr. They may have echoes and connections in the strangest places.”
So, essentially, Aristasia has always been something based in spiritual values and most of the misunderstandings have come from interpreting it in purely material terms?
Yes, I think that is a fair way of putting it. Goodness, truth, beauty, and innocence have always been our fundamental values. And like you all here, most of us love Our Mother God and want to be good children for Her. Goodness and innocence aren't something that modern Telluria understands or likes. The whole culture is going at light speed in the opposite direction. So I guess it is no surprise that it continually misunderstands what we are and what we aspire to. As I said, we aren't here for the many, we are here for the very, very few – for girls who really don't belong in that corrupt culture, and who actually don't belong in Telluria at all. For girls who really need a world of pure femininity and the fundamentally feminine values of goodness, innocence, kindness, and truth.
You can see the new Aristasia Central introductory site here
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