Women, Men, and Nature, by Riane Eisler

This article is taken from a larger text. ~J

Women, Men, and Nature

As we have seen, in dominator ideology male control over women is justified by dogmas placing man and spirituality above woman and nature. But these dogmas also require that men view their own bodies (which, like women’s bodies, are obviously part of nature) as objects to be controlled. These attitudes were in the West exacerbated by Christian teachings of the inferiority of both women and the bodily or carnal, including the Church’s condemnation of sexual pleasure. However, as we have also seen, this dualistic (or more accurately, dominator) view of men and spirituality as superior to women and nature is characteristic of many Eastern religions, philosophies, and even mystical traditions.

So the view of nature as something to be controlled, which is so decried today by environmentalists and others trying to find healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, can hardly be blamed, as some writers have, on Newtonian science or Cartesian rationalism. 27 Newtonian science and Cartesian rationalism certainly represent a detached, male-centered approach. But they are merely mechanistic updates of much earlier views. Indeed, the supposedly modern view that nature (and thus also the human body) is to be conquered and controlled by men can in Western tradition easily be traced back to the Babylonian Enuma Elish, where, as we saw, Marduk creates the world by dismembering the body of Tiamat. Moreover, although it is in a less violent form, the notion that males can, and should, control nature is central to the biblical creation story that is a cornerstone of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religion. What we are told here is that all of nature was created simply because a male deity ordered that it be so— and even beyond this, that when God created humans in his image, he gave man dominion “over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” 28

This notion that man can, and should, have absolute dominion over the “chaotic” powers of nature and woman (both of which are in Babylonian legend symbolized by the goddess Tiamat) is what ultimately lies behind man’s famous “conquest of nature”— a conquest that is today puncturing holes in the earth’s ozone layer, destroying our forests, polluting our air and water, and increasingly threatening the welfare, and even survival, of thousands of living species, including our own. This is also what lies behind a medical approach to the human body that all too often relies on unnecessary and/or harmful chemical and surgical intrusions — an approach that in Western medicine goes back to the “heroic” remedies developed by the Church-trained doctors who during the late Middle Ages gradually replaced traditional healers (many of them women burned as witches) and their more natural herbal and other treatments. For here too the guiding philosophy is one of omniscient doctors giving orders and of detached external control; in short, of domination over rather than partnership with nature.

None of this is to say that modern science and medicine have not made major contributions to human welfare — which they clearly have. But it is just as unsound to insist that modern science and technology alone can solve our mounting ecological problems as it is to blame all these problems on modern science and technology.

Indeed, the stereotypes of modern science and technology as either villain or savior obscure the real issue. It is not whether we should, or should not, develop science and technology. It is rather how science and technology should be developed and applied. 29

There are in nature both creative and destructive forces, and a major achievement of human culture has been the development of technologies to better deal with, or at least minimize, the damage from destructive natural phenomena such as periodic floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Medicine has also made great strides toward curing and preventing destructive viral, bacterial, and hereditary diseases. We obviously want to continue developing these kinds of technologies. But we also need to learn to work more in partnership with nature, including partnership with the human body as part of nature.

For instance, rather than merely seeking to control nature’s periodic floods using modern technology to dam rivers, we need to understand how dams can under certain circumstances also have adverse economic and environmental effects, as in the case of the famous Aswan Dam in Egypt — which wreaked havoc with the natural cycles of soil enrichment through the Nile’s periodic flooding, leading to massive use of chemical fertilizers, and with this, not only to great ecological damage but, in the long run, to drops rather than increases in crop productivity. 30

Another example is that rather than seeking to deal with bodily malfunctions through massive chemical therapies, which often create more health problems, we need to move toward what is today accurately called a more holistic approach to the human body— one that recognizes the interaction between mind and body and the great untapped power we humans have to heal ourselves.

This takes us to something else that is still also rarely brought out: that largely because women have not been socialized to believe they should “conquer” nature, women today play a major role in articulating and disseminating this more holistic or partnership-oriented view of natural processes. There are many books by women dealing with this issue. For example, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was the first clarion call for the modern ecology movement. Our Bodies, Ourselves was a landmark book in holistic medicine, a powerful tool in women’s struggle to reclaim our bodies, and with this, the authority to heal that was (after the Church’s extermination of Europe’s women healers during the witch-hunts) monopolized by male physicians. And ecofeminist books such as Carol Adams’s Ecofetninism and the Sacred, Lorraine Anderson’s Sisters of the Earth, Irene Diamond’s and Gloria Orenstein’s Reweaving the World, Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature, Carolyn Merchant’s The Death of Nature, and Vandana Shiva’s Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development vividly show that the devaluation (and conquest) of woman and the devaluation (and conquest) of nature are all of one cloth. 31

Taking this more partnership-oriented view of both women and nature an important step farther is Elizabeth Dodson Gray’s Sacred Dimensions of Women’s Experience. For this work not only stresses the need to understand and change gender stereotypes if we are to make real progress; it puts at issue nothing less than what is and is not sacred.

Renaming the Sacred and the Obscene

As we have seen, how we define what is sacred is integral to how we define reality. Thus, Gray writes: “It is not accidental that in the Genesis 2 account of creation Adam ‘named’ all the animals. Naming is power, the power to shape reality into a form that serves the interest and goals of the one doing the naming.” 32

It is all too evident that a dominator way of naming reality is not serving the best interests of either women or men. It has led to chronic violence and injustice and is ecologically unsound. Even beyond this, the view of the world as a pyramid ruled from above by a remote, otherworldly deity robs both women’s and men’s day-to-day experiences of wonder and meaning, investing only that which distances us from life with holiness.

Perhaps the most glaring example is that while we have no lack of religious ceremonies to deal with death, we as yet have hardly any rites to imbue the act of giving birth with sacred meaning. Quite the contrary, in the Bible we are told a woman is tainted and unclean from giving birth33— a complete reversal of the ancient view of giving birth as a sacred act in image after image of pregnant and birthing Paleolithic and Neolithic female figures. So the fact that women and men are today beginning to consciously resacralize giving birth through rituals of celebration is a very important partnership sign. 34 . . . (continued).

Again, I will say the book from which this short article is taken gives information that I believe is absolutely basic to our understanding of the false matrix in which we are presently living. Our world view of ourselves and our place on our planet has been totally corrupted. When we take the time to understand the details —and the depth — of what we have erroneously learned, we will find that truly, the truth does set us free! ~J

Eisler, Riane (2012-01-03). Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body- (Kindle Edition $.99 – a Kindle App is a free download). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

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11 Responses to Women, Men, and Nature, by Riane Eisler

  1. Di, Cerrillos,NM,USA says:

    I have been reading about Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals. The Neanderthals were brutish and dominating through warfare. There are many who have Neanderthal characteristics through DNA. They are actually easy to spot. (Netanyahu) There are stories of an earthly highjacking by Annunaki who manipulated DNA to produce a race of slaves. These slaves bred successfully and now dominate the population. Men have dominated, fact. Using scriptures and strength as their reasons to treat others as inferior. Love requires us to change our beliefs. I keep asking my higher self: how did we behave before there were scriptures and highjackings? The Celts had an egalitarian system which was destroyed by the church. Then can we conclude that domination occured because of the church? When one segment of a population holds another in slavery, the slaves eventually rebel. If life were good for everyone then we could call male domination successful. However, I tend to watch the decisions and behavior and results and have concluded that male domination is a failure and needs to be discarded in favor of a system that makes use of talents and skills of each of us for our mutual benefit. A love based system, not war based.

    • Jean says:

      Di, if you will take the time to read this book, you will find total backup for your conclusion. You will also discover the depths to which the sickness pervades our society. . . and how good people are beginning to recover our natural, wholesome sexuality. Priests wearing skirts? Symbols of this occult religion all over the Vatican? Pedophilia and its purposes? It’s all been there in plain sight, but we never saw it. . . Hugs, ~Jean

  2. LOVELY excerpt. VERY well-put, those points! IMVH&experienced_O, every last one of them are indeed vital to our species’ and planet’s continued survival. (Oh dear, now I want to find yet ANOTHER book…) 😉

    FWIW, the interested reader will find a rather well-authenticated illustrated recounting of the Great Takeover from feminine to masculine orientation and dominance in (of all artists) R. Crumb’s rendition of the Book of Genesis, drawn from the King James Version of the Bible. He pulls no punches and obfuscates not one point, in fact. The Amazon, alibris, abebooks and scribd dotcoms, as well as (occasionally) the BitTorrent network will reliably yield the material cited, if one should desire to acquire the item.

    “…When we take the time to understand the details —and the depth — of what we have erroneously learned, we will find that truly, the truth does set us free! ~J”

    The doing of which certainly separates the viable adults of our species from all the various sorts of übersophisticated others – deceivers and deceived alike. The wrasslin’-matches that have emerged to my own face on those very lines of late merely demonstrate yet again the genuine reality of that Key Point of Knowing How to Live!

    Anyone does not like that, I could encourage ’em to go blame it all on a Horse for all the good it’ll do. Some will eagerly accept the Real Deal, others of course still want Something Completely Different. Truly, the Cosmic Drama now unfolding before our opening eyes contains great healthy chunks of sheer dramatic comedy! (And that ain’t all.) 0{;-)o[

  3. Mack says:

    There are many layers of information and disinformation. At the heart of a matter there may be a core truth. Overlaid upon that may be one error. Overlaid upon that may be another error. The goal is not to choose a favorite error, but rather to dispense with all the error and return to the core truth.

    Riane Eisler, along with many other feminist authors, have not returned to the core truth. Rather they have invented another layer of disinformation. The forgotten ways of men were never aligned with financial tyranny or domination of nature. Those were not the ways of men, they were the ways of bankers. Feminism was invented by Karl Marx, and used by “the powers that were” as a means of control. Feminism is not aligned with nature. There is nothing new or enlightened about it. There is nothing of a higher vibration about feminist philosophy such as Eisler advocates.

    It continues to distract us via an old tired divide and conquer strategy by reframing the ancient past through the colored lenses of feminist revisionism. We cannot achieve any enlightenment, higher vibration, unity of purpose, or true understanding about gender dynamics (or each other) while we settle for seeing the world through such colored lenses. We only alienate those who love the truth by doing this. By defining and shaming males for things they are only imagined to be (in the dark fear-and-hate-based recesses of feminist philosophy), we shame generations of males, who then and give up and check out, missing their full human potential.

    We are one human family with one common destiny. We need every human being pulling together unitedly in order to face the great challenges of our planet successfully. Please abandon fear-based misandry. Please stop blaming men as a sex for what the ultra rich have done to the world. The sensibilities of men are already so completely marginalized that they have been forgotten. What this article criticizes as the “errant ways of men” is a straw man. It does not exist, and never did.

    The ultra rich are the only real enemy of humanity. We cannot and should not claim any higher degree of awareness after embracing the fallacies of feminism, which is marxism, which is a mind game of the powers that were.

    • Jean says:

      Mack, I beg to differ here. Totally! Eisler is not advocating feminism! I agree with you that feminism is a construct of the cabal, but that is not what this book is about. I can’t believe you have read it, or I don’t think you could speak as you do! If you think men have not adopted the dominator role, I think, quite frankly, you are dreaming. It has insidiously inserted itself into every single aspect of our lives – for many centuries. It has distorted what should be our natural relationships with one another in the deepest of ways.

      Your view is I think being distorted by a willingness not to dig deep here to find out what Eisler is really saying . . . our churches, themselves, have bred this sickness in us! While they are one aspect of the cabal, they are not necessarily the rich elite that we all know about.

      Please, don’t take this woman’s work at face value and write a critique of it without having studied it. That is the problem with our society today – everybody wants a quick, easy answer – because that is what we have been taught. The ‘real’ truth takes time and effort to discover, and I don’t think you have really done that here. If you will take the time to consider my words, to reads Riane’s book, I think you will increase your knowledge and wisdom many fold. Right now, all I see is that you are stuck in feminism! Let it go and look deeper. . .


      • Mack says:

        I understand your position thoroughly. I have dug deeper into this issue than you have begun to. You are advocating prejudice, not truth. How sad you cannot see that it is essential to abandon hate and see the divine in one another. before we can move forward. You will never see the divine within male humans until you overcome your prejudice that “males have adopted a dominator role”. No, we have not. You feminists authors know nothing about who and what men are. You are satisfied to judge and shame, and that is why men are giving up and checking out. I have given up on you as many of your potential male readers already have. You are not a truth seeker. I thought you were. Another sad day.

        • Jean says:

          Mack, you are entitled to your opinion, and please know that is all it is. I do not hate men, and I do see the divine within them. I would like to know hou you know that I hate men? Frankly, you haven’t got a clue about me, and I suspect you haven’t read Riane Eisler’s book, either! Hugs, ~Jean

  4. Hegelian says:

    I believe we are ruled by aliens. The type that are like cosmic rodents who destroy every biological planet they come across.

    • Friend Hegelian,

      I feel your discomfiture too, as (I reckon) do most if not indeed all who lurk as well as post here. Seems to me, though, that we need not look to other planetary systems for the source of the problem, but rather to the near-infinite capacity of the human mind for self-deception in various quests for power, advantage and control over (instead of harmony with) our deepest Inner nature – both as a species and as individual members thereof.

      Not denying the likelihood that we of Terra have many, many sentient neighbors all throughout the Local Galaxy and indeed our Universe – which, by DeSitter’s model, is merely one of an infinite number of such “bubbles in space-time” (my term, not DeSitter’s afaik). No doubt that many such neighbors are indeed not worth knowing while others certainly are desirable acquaintances, if only for safety’s sake, just as it is anywhere else on any scale at all. Just pointing-up a certain well-known human tendency to blame external sources for interference with our lives and affairs that in reality originates right here at home, though… Might come out remiss if I didn’t.

      Indigenous American anthropomorphism in the ancient Wisdom Tales as well as the antics of Walk Kelly’s Pogo ‘toon crew rise to mind as I write… Yah, we sure got a load o’ rats, gators, spiders, snakes and scorpions etc in our midst, busily Looking Human (at a profit, no less) while doing according to their actual nature… Normal, correctable (though not always so very pleasantly) and ever so cleverly obfuscated within the mainstream(sic) Dominant-but-fading Culture’s standard-issue meme-set, into which we were born and kept fully immersed for just ever so long!

      No more of that now… Too much Light now ambient (with more emerging every day!) for it to survive. So on we go – our Day dawns anew! Been what, about 22,000 years or so since things “went dark” for a while…? Then, quite inevitably, the Supremely Natural (re)-Alignment.

      So here we are today. It’s comin’ about, Cap’n! Light dawns, rats do scatter. Might need a broom or eight (plus many well-made mops etc) in the cleanup, of course…

      YES WE CAN. That Turtle-hijacked motto just about says it. So that is all. 0{;-)o[

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