Sex and Money
Author to speak about power, gender roles and economics at CSU-Monterey Bay.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Riane Eisler has spent most of her life punching holes into the rationale behind historical gender relationships. The Carmel author says each of us has been conditioned into one of two roles: the dominator or the dominated.
“Take Cinderella,” Eisler says. “She’s a disaster; she’s a drudge; she’s a victim. Her stepmother, the feminine figure, was the evil one. Well what about her father? Why the hell didn’t he say, ‘Hey, don’t treat my child like that.’”
Cinderella could well be Eisler’s poster child for everything that’s wrong with the world. For decades, Eisler has explored ways to change social structures, relationships and world economics by reformulating the balance of power—ditching the top-down theory of ruler and ruled in favor of partnerships and “caring connections.”
Her theories were widely embraced after her 1987 book, The Chalice and The Blade. In it, Eisler examined male-female relationships and chipped away at what she says is the misconception that one sex is preordained to play any one role in society—men the warriors, women the rescued nurturers.
In the book that followed, Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body, Eisler explored “a new perspective on the sexual politics that fashion our culture.”
Next month, Eisler’s latest work, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, hits bookstores. “I didn’t intend it to be a trilogy,” Eisler says, “But it makes sense. The first was about power, the second about sex, the last about money.”
Real Wealth of Nations is again based on Eisler’s belief in a “human yearning for a caring connection:” A gentle, more economically prosperous world exists once we add value to the work of caring for people and the planet, working side by side rather than within a historical pyramid of power.
A peek into Eisler’s past reveals why she’s spent the better part of 60 years examining the prospects of peace. Born in Vienna, Austria, Eisler’s father was captured by the Nazis. Her mother later negotiated for his release. The family then fled to pre-Castro Cuba, living in stark poverty. Seven years later, they escaped to the US.
From her sun-drenched living room, surrounded by bookshelves jammed with art books and philosophical explorations of humanity, the permanent smile disappears from Eisler’s face. Her eyes look away for the first time in an hour. “I am a product of my upbringing,” she thinks aloud, crossing her hands protectively across her chest. “My childhood was littered with violence.”
She shakes it off quickly, and the smile returns.
“What it comes down to is this,” she says. “If we don’t change the gender sickness in this world, we can’t really ever change a thing.”
EISLER DISCUSSES “THE CARING REVOLUTION: POWER, WOMEN AND MONEY” AT 7PM THURSDAY, MARCH 15, AT CSUMB’S WORLD THEATER, SIXTH AVENUE, SEASIDE. FREE. 582-4768.