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"Sacred Pleasure" - understanding sexism, racism and other isms

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Cerridwen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-23-06 10:20 AM
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"Sacred Pleasure" - understanding sexism, racism and other isms
in the progressive/liberal communities.

The full book title for those of you who have not already read it is "Sacred Pleasure: sex, myth, and the politics of the body" by Riane Eisler; who, some of you know, also wrote "The Chalice and the Blade."

It has been my experience that many feminists cringe when confronted with anything related to spirituality and/or religion; with good cause given what has been done against/to women in the name of god and/or religion. I believe and I have believed since beginning my feminist research and career that we avoid the spiritual realm to our own detriment. It has been such an effective tool against us, we must understand its workings in order to defeat its efficacy. I've spent much of my feminist career examining religions and comparing mythologies of the sacred feminine and how many of those myths define what it is to be human and to define what it is to be female; usually different and conflicting pictures. As a matter of fact, I realized recently, that my feminist consciousness came about due to the fact that I questioned many of the tenets within the religion of my childhood; the catholic church.

Since this may be a book which would be overlooked by feminists due to its spiritual theme, I felt I should post about it here. Quite frankly, I hope that I'm wrong and that my experiences within the feminist community are now quaint anachronisms of the feminist movement past. :D

The theme throughout both "Chalice" and "Sacred Pleasure" is that of dominator versus partnership societies. "Sacred Pleasure" begins where "Chalice" left off and shows the inter-connectedness of dominator ideals as they impact the "nuclear" family, economic realities, the political sphere, the role of religion and myth-making, the role of media to promote approved mythology, and the ever present need and erotization of "sacred" violence or threat of violence in order to maintain dominator (patriarchal) systems of oppression over those defined as less than, weaker, less worthy, less god-like, i.e., "feminine." Her theories say that sexism against women is the "linchpin" upon which all isms are modeled. Sexism is the "template" for all forms of discrimination and hatred toward "out groups."

Her theories about dominator versus partnership help to explain sexism, racism, homophobia, and other anti-"other" behaviors and comments many here experience within our own progressive/liberal movement; from men and women.

I highly recommend you investigate both "Chalice" and "Sacred Pleasure" with an eye toward defining that which continues to "defeat" us and separate us as we continue to re-define the world in which we live and to see those dominator ideals which we and "ours" continue to propagate within our work toward peace, partnership and equality rather than violence, hatred and power-over.

We may have come a long way, but we have a long way still to go.

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cally Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 05:23 PM
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1. I'm always fascinated by the background of
where various religions get their beliefs. I have a pile of books that I haven't gotten to yet. I hope to read this when those are done.
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ismnotwasm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-24-06 05:55 PM
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2. Religion has always been with society
And I don't think it's going away. It's a fundamental part of the human experience. The effect of religion, or systems of belief can't be understated. I like reading about the background of religions, because there are always hints, at least the women had more power/control/respect at one time. There was a better balance at least, and probably different intent for women than the roles that actually emerged.

I believe the standard anthropology explanation, in short, is going from a hunter-gatherer and animistic society, to a agricultural society, with Goddesses and fertility rites, to the more expansionist and war-like societies with male/power Gods. (One of the reasons Freud's penis-envy,among other things and ideas, always puzzled me, because it certainly wasn't always that way, and it isn't anything "hardwired" into us.)

I like Elaine Pagels as far as the Christian religion goes. It seems I've read the Chalice and the Blade, but since I can't remember if I did, I should read it again. "Sacred Pleasure" I'd probably read just because the title is intriguing. The spirituality of being, even for an agnostic like myself, doesn't lead me to fear of that very spirituality.
At least not anymore. So thank you!
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