By Riane Eisler
Girls performed prime roles within the first Christian groups; Jesus' teachings had a feminist bent; old Hebrews worshipped the prehistoric goddess-mother good into monarchic occasions; and Nazis, with their process of male dominance, have been an immediate throwback to the Indo-European or Aryan invaders whom they crudely imitated. those arguable principles and findings recommend the thrust of Eisler's hugely readable synthesis. She convincingly records the worldwide shift from egalitarian to patriarchal societies, interweaving new archeological facts and feminist scholarship. In her situation, as womenonce veneratedwere degraded to pawns managed via males, social cooperation gave approach to reliance on violence, hierarchy and authoritarianism.
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Extra info for The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future
While the idea of the importance of kinship enjoys the status of a first principle in anthropology, the internal workings of kinship systems have long been a focus for intense controversy. Kinship systems vary wildly from one culture to the next. They contain all sorts of bewildering rules which govern whom one may or may not marry. Their internal complexity is dazzling. Kinship systems have for decades provoked the anthropological imagination into trying to explain incest taboos, cross-cousin marriage, terms of descent, relationships of avoidance or forced intimacy, clans and sections, taboos on names— the diverse array of items found in descriptions of actual kinship systems.
In contrast, the Lacanian theory of the castration complex leaves behind all reference to anatomical reality: The theory of the castration complex amounts to having the male organ play a dominant role—this time as a symbol—to the extent that its absence or presence transforms an anatomical difference into a major classification of humans, and to the extent 10 I have taken my position on Freud somewhere between the French structuralist interpretations and American biologistic ones, because I think that Freud’s wording is similarly somewhere in the middle.
This fit between Lévi-Strauss and Freud is by implication an argument that our sex/gender system is still organized by the principles outlined by Lévi-Strauss, despite the entirely nonmodern character of his data base. The more recent data on which Freud bases his theories testifies to the endurance of these sexual structures. indd 33 33 by reorganizing the domain of sex and gender in such a way that each individual’s Oedipal experience would be less destructive. The dimensions of such a task are difficult to imagine, but at least certain conditions would have to be met.
The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future by Riane Eisler