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Reply #40: Have you read Riane Eisler's book "The Chalice and the Blade"? [View All]

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-24-11 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #37
40. Have you read Riane Eisler's book "The Chalice and the Blade"?
Edited on Tue May-24-11 02:31 PM by GliderGuider
The Chalice and the Blade

In it she takes a very interesting and objective look at matrifocal societies, and determines that they (or what she calls "partnership" societies were pretty much the norm until 5,000 years ago or so.

Here's some commentary from a review of the book:

Review by Christine Hoff Kraemer
Riane Eislers The Chalice and the Blade was one of several books by feminist scholars released in the late 1980s that tried to sketch out the origins of patriarchy in order to suggest ways that it might be ended. Eisler asserts that patriarchy is built on particular symbol and value reversals the Great Mother Goddess, primary symbol for the divine source of being and associated with peace and compassion, is marginalized and then discarded entirely, while a masculine war god is raised in her place.

Eisler uses the symbols of chalice and blade to stand for two competing sets of values and models of society. The chalice stands for a style of social structure that Eisler calls the partnership model, in which relations between the sexes are understood primarily in terms of partnership rather than hierarchy. The resulting society is egalitarian, peaceful, and matrifocal, centered on the nurturing values traditionally associated with mothers. Using a variety of archaeological studies, Eisler claims that such societies existed in Neolithic Europe from the beginning of the agricultural revolution until around 5000-3000 BCE, when warlike invaders from the fringes of these regions conquered them. These invaders social model, which Eisler calls the dominator model, is warlike, hierarchical, and organized around patterns of domination.

Eislers ultimate aim, however, is not historical but normative. The chapters on archaeology and cultural history serve as a background for her insistence that with the invention of the atomic bomb, humanity has reached an evolutionary crossroads. Human society must turn again to a gylanic model of association and embrace its values, because to continue along the path of androcracy is likely to lead to nuclear war. The remainder of the book is devoted to what Eisler calls Cultural Transformation theory, and sketches out mechanisms by which transformation from a dominator model of society to a partnership one can be accomplished. Among her observations is a criticism of the rigid sexual stereotypes that she sees as a necessary part of a dominator society, as well as the claim that the rise of womens status in a given society is highly correlated with its overall quality of life.

I agree broadly with with Eisler's position. Egalitarian, partnership societies are not only possible, they are the only thing that will allow the next cycle of human civilization to rebuild in a sustainable manner after what I expect is going to be a severe ecological bottleneck coming up in the next century or so. The more we entrench those positive, cooperative values now, the higher our probability of long-term success.

I have no problem at all speaking out about FGM or infanticide (whether gender-selective or not). However, I would not expect my objections to make a scintilla of difference to the practices I was objecting about, unless they were happening in my own culture. When they happen in other cultures I would hesitate to set up absolutist moral pronouncements against the realities of life on the ground. Instead, I would work to understand deeply what was driving the behaviour, and work to alleviate that underlying cause.

Promoting the education and empowerment of womyn is a laudable goal for example, but it may or may not alleviate this particular problem.
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