Raising the Chalice
"We see a world where the most highly
valued work will have the consciousness of caring."
Riane Eisler & David
Riane Eisler has been described as a modern renaissance woman due
to her far-reaching insights as a cultural historian. She is the author of
The Chalice and the Blade, which the eminent anthropologist,
Ashley Montague has hailed as "the most important book since
Origin of Species. " Her latest work, The Partnership Way--written
with her husband David Loye is a handbook for applying the partnership
model for which she has become renowned.
Riane was born in Vienna, Austria, and at the age of six she found
herself a refugee of Nazi Europe. She sailed to Cuba, on the last ship
before the ill-fated St. Louis was refused sanctuary by the United States
and she emigrated to North America when she was fourteen. Her early
experiences with the dark side of human culture led her to pursue studies
in sociology and anthropology and she went on to obtain a J.D. from the
UCLA School of Law
She has taught at the University of California and the Immaculate
Heart College in Los Angeles, and she is a member of the General Evolution
Research Group. She has pioneered legislation to protect the human rights
of women and children and founded such organizations as the Los Angeles
Women 's Center Legal Program and the Center for Partnership Studies.
Riane 's articles have appeared in many publications and journals.
She has frequently appeared on television and addressed corporations such
as Dupont and Disney. She has also spoken at universities such as UCLA and
Harvard and keynoted many conferences worldwide.
Riane is an eloquent and dynamic speaker. Her ability to interweave
a vast expanse of information allowed for a fascinating and highly
revelatory discussion on the politics of anthropology, the roots of
civilization, the lost aspects of religion and the cease-fire recipe to
humanity 's "war of the sexes. "
David Loye is a social psychologist and systems theorist. He is the
author of numerous books on the use of the brain and mind in prediction,
political leadership and race relations. His psychohistory, The
Healing of a Nation, was called "a work of uncommon humanity and
vision " by Psychology Today and received the Anisfield - Wolfe Award for
the best scholarly book on race relations in 1971. His other works include
The Leadership Passion, The Sphinx and the Rainbow and The
Knowable Future, which has been recognized as a pioneering work of
unusual stature in the field of future studies.
David is a former member of the psychology faculty of Princeton
University and for almost ten years he was the Director of Research for
the Program on Psychosocial Adaption and the Future at the UCLA School of
Medicine. He is also a founding member of the General Evolution Research
Group, a multidisciplinary think tank composed of scholars from various
parts of the world. A member of the Editorial Board and Book Review Editor
of The Journal of General Evolution, David's articles have appeared in
numerous publications. He is also a major contributor to the first
multi-volume World Encyclopedia of Peace.
During recent years, David's main research project has been the
scientific study of moral sensitivity and he is completing two books on
the subject. This has involved a re-evaluation of the work of many
philosophers and psychologists in light of new discoveries in brain
research, human prehistory, and the systems dynamics of cultural
evolution. He is currently Go-Director of the Center for Partnership
Studies in Pacific Grove, California.
We met with David and his wife, plane on the Winter Solstice of
1988 at their beautiful home in Carmel, California. David offered us
intriguing insights into the nature of morality and its relation to sexual
distortion and denial. Pooling together his multi-disciplinary
perspectives he spoke with passionate clarity on the subjects of cultural
politics and the respective roles which the left and right sides of our
brains have played in social evolution.
DJB: Riane tell us, what was it that originally
inspired you to write
The Chalice and the Blade, a book described by Ashley
Montague as "the most important book since Darwin's Origin of Species,"
and what motivated you to complete the work?
RIANE: I think that what people choose to study is
related to their life experiences. I was a refugee from Nazi Europe, and
at a very early age I had to ask myself some very basic questions, the
questions that I tried to answer in The Chalice and The Blade. And
they certainly weren't just academic questions for me.
Because of my own life experiences, I was haunted by questions such as:
Do we have to hunt and persecute each other? Do we have to live in ways
that stunt our ability and willingness to be helpful and caring towards
other people? Does there have to be war? And do we have to have the "war
of the sexes"? One of the things my work shows is that there is an
integral relationship, in systems terms, between war and the war of the
RMN: Just so that everyone is familiar with your
cultural transformation theory, can you define the differences between
what you have termed a partnership and dominator, or
RIANE: I think the best way to answer this question is
to begin with how I developed cultural transformation theory. About ten
years ago I embarked on an intensive study, drawing from many fields, to
re-examine our past, our present, and the possibilities for our future.
Most studies concerned with our global crises focus on modern times, on
what's happening now, or on what happened in the last few hundred years.
My database was much larger. As you know, it included the whole of our
history, including our prehistory. And it also included the whole of
humanity; in other words, both its female and male halves.
Perhaps fifty years from now, people will say, you mean that's not how
it was always done? Because it's ludicrous, when you come right down to
it, to just take one half of a species into account. Yet most books on
history or sociology or anthropology, if there are six or seven mentions
in the index about women, that's already terrific, right? It's a
We all know that if we just look at part of a picture, we don't see the
whole picture. What I started to see is what one can see if one uses a
holistic or systems approach: recurring relationships or patterns that
were not visible before. These patterns or configurations compose what I
then called the dominator or androcratic and the partnership or gylanic
models of society.
Each has a clear configuration. But we didn't see that configuration
because we weren't looking at a very key component in it, which is the
status of women and of so-called feminine values, such as caring,
nonviolence, and compassion. In other words, at the relationship between
the female and male halves of humanity, and with this, between stereotypes
of "masculinity" and "femininity."
A lot of lip service is given to bemoaning that we don't have a social
guidance system governed by these so-called "feminine" values that we now
need for our survival. Only the talk about it is abstract.
If you look at the configurations of these two models, you see
something very interesting, which is that the dominator system requires
that values like caring and nonviolence and compassion (stereotypically
associated with women) not be governant. You see that at the core
of that system is the domination of men over women, of one half of
humanity by the other. And that this domination is ultimately backed up by
force or the threat of force.
Beginning with the ranking of one half of humanity over the other, the
dominator system is also characterized by a generally hierarchic or
authoritarian social structure and a high degree of institutionalized
violence. Not only rape (a form of male terrorism against women), wife
battering, incest, and other structural forms of violence designed to
maintain men's domination over women; but also institutionalized violence
designed to impose and/or maintain the domination of man over man, tribe
over tribe, and nation over nation. That's of course what warfare is
RMN: Can you give us some examples of each model?
RIANE: If we look at human society using the templates
of the partnership and dominator models, we begin to see that in all the
seeming randomness around us there are actually patterns. Take for
example, three very different societies: the Masai of Africa, Nazi
Germany, and Khomeini's Iran --a tribal society, a highly technologically
developed Western society, and a Middle Eastern theocracy.
Underneath all the surface differences, all three are rigidly male
dominant societies. Moreover, they are all highly warlike. The Masai were
the scourge of Africa --the most warlike of African societies. The
violence of Hitler's Germany and Khomeini's Iran is well-known. But the
institutionalized violence is not only in warfare, but many other
areas--wife beating, genital mutilation of women among the Masai, the
brutality directed against women not only in Iran but many other
fundamentalist Muslim regimes. And in all three there was strong-man rule,
be it in the family or in the state. And it was absolute, authoritarian
rule. So in Iran the Mullahs will tell you that they have the only direct
telephone line to God, and you had better listen to them--or else.
This dominator configuration of rigid male dominance, a high degree of
institutionalized violence, and strong-man or authoritarian rule in both
the family and state is discernible in very different societies and
groups. In the United States, you see the same kind of configuration in
the rightist-fundamentalist alliance. "Get women back into their
'traditional' (a code word for subservient) place." And a lot of emphasis
on "holy wars" and on strict obedience to "divinely ordained" commands.
But it isn't only that war is holy in the religious sense in the dominator
model. The Nazis thought war was holy--because war is holy in the
dominator model. That's why I chose the title The Chalice and The
Blade--the blade becomes the highest power.
RMN: And the partnership model?
RIANE: As you move towards the partnership or gylanic
model, you see the opposite configuration. You see power equated more with
the chalice--with the power to give, rather than take, life. You also see
a more equal partnership between the female and male halves of humanity.
And you see a more democratic, more equitable system and a far lower
degree of institutionalized violence. It isn't that there's no violence.
But there's a very big difference, which is that in the partnership or
gylanic model, male identity is not equated with domination and
conquest--be it of women, other men, other nations, or nature. And
violence and abuse are not institutionalized in parent-child relations and
in other human relations.
One of the characteristics of the partnership model, as evidenced by
prehistoric societies that we are now rediscovering, is that they had what
we today would call an ecological consciousness---a real reverence for
nature, which they venerated in the form of a Great Goddess. So the
contemporary ecology movement is a very important partnership or gylanic
trend with its growing understanding that we need to respect, rather than
conquer, Mother Nature.
There are all over the world today many partnership trends. If you look
at the Scandinavian nations, you find the strongest movement toward an
integrated partnership configuration beginning to come together. In the
first place, there is a more equal partnership between women and men. For
example, in the Norwegian government, women constitute approximately forty
percent of Parliament. (Compare this to the less than six percent in the
United States Congress or none in rigid dominator regimes like Saudi
Arabia.) Moreover, this goes along with a more equitable and democratic
distribution of wealth--one that did not devolve into the Soviet Union's
dominator form of socialism. There is also the fact that the Scandinavians
boast the first peace academies and some of the groundbreaking work in
human rights. And Scandinavian countries evidence more "feminine" values
in their social governance--with a consequent emphasis not so much on
technologies of destruction (weaponry) but on health, education, and
welfare, as well as the environment (in other words on "women's" work such
as caring and cleaning).
When you think about it, we're what's known as a dimorphic species, a
species composed of two halves. It should therefore come as no surprise to
anybody that the way that a society structures this fundamental
relationship makes a tremendous difference.
DAVID L: An interesting thing to me is that when you
confront a lot of social scientists with this idea that everything boils
down to two models-- they may not say this openly-- but what's going on in
the back of their heads, is that's just too simplistic. They tend to
discount the idea on that ground. But I've looked at a broad range of
phenomena in light of Riane's fundamental insight, and it is that simple.
The term, incidentally, partnership, is actually one I came up with. Riane
was using the terms "androcratic" and "gylanic." It was pointed out by a
friend of ours, the futurist writer Bob Jungk, that somewhat more
accessible terms were needed for broad appeal.
DJB: Does your dominator-partnership model of human
evolution require a revision in Darwin's theory of natural selection,
which assumes that competitive and selfish reproductive success is the
driving force in evolution, or do you think, perhaps, that symbiosis and
cooperation could be viewed as a, or the, driving force in evolution?
RIANE: My book is very different in its basic
assumptions and findings from Darwin’s, and particularly from how Darwin
has been popularly interpreted. It isn't like if species A survives,
species B has to die. That's not how evolution works.
As a matter of fact, most of the world's ecosystem demonstrates a far
more synergistic and symbiotic relationship between many species. And of
course the great danger with that totally competitive dog-eat-dog
approach, which is the dominator system approach, is that it is now, at
our level of technology, not only threatening our species with extinction,
but it's threatening all species.
Although I have to clarify here that there is also competition in the
system, just as there's also cooperation in the dominator system. But
it's a different kind of competition and cooperation. For example, in the
dominator model men cooperate to go to war, to better dominate or destroy.
So the answer is not just cooperation. The issue is cooperation in the
context of a partnership or dominator society. That extreme
conquest-oriented dominator competition is truly not adaptive.
I am not a biologist, so I can only tell you that my work is more in
line with new interpretations by biologists and evolutionary scholars,
that the Darwinian model at best deals with only part of the picture. The
biologist Humberto Maturana in Chile, for example, is very much involved
in that kind of work.
DAVID L: Ashley Montagu characterizes the difference by saying that it
isn't survival of the fittest, it's the survival of the fit. This has the
implication that it isn't this dog-eat-dog battle for only one survivor
out of many. It's the survival of the fit, and you can define the fit in
many different ways, including the way that Riane is defining it.
DIANE: But I want to make a distinction here. Cultural transformation
theory deals with cultural evolution. Also, we tend to think of evolution
as a linear upward movement. But not even biological evolution is like
that. And certainly not cultural evolution or technological evolution.
For example, if you look at technology, Minoan Crete (which was one of
the last known prehistoric societies orienting largely to the partnership
model) had very advanced technology, including indoor plumbing. This got
lost until the Romans. Then it got lost again until very recent times.
There may be a striving in our species towards ever higher cultural and
technological development, but that striving will have to contend with the
fact that there are other movements going on.
What cultural transformation theory posits, in a nutshell, is that the
original thrust of our cultural evolution, the first civilizations,
developed in areas where the earth was hospitable, fertile. As we began to
develop agriculture, in the mainstream of our cultural evolution, we moved
in a partnership direction.
But the evidence indicates that there was in our prehistory a period of
tremendous system disequilibrium, when there was a fundamental shift in
direction. We are now learning from non-linear and chaos theory that from
the fringes of a system you can have a peripheral invader that comes in
and changes the whole structure very quickly--what seems to be a small
perturbation, in terms of Prigogine's language. These small perturbations
become nucleations for a new system.
The same process seems to have occurred in our cultural evolution.
There were peripheral invaders that during our prehistory came in from the
barren steppes of the north and the arid deserts of the south and we saw a
shift toward the dominator model of society. And for five thousand years
we've been on this course. I think of it sometimes as a dominator detour.
But the dominator model clearly is a choice for us as a species.
Now, as we approach the twenty-first century, we are in another period
of tremendous systems disequilibrium. Nothing less than our survival as a
species is now animating a very powerful partnership thrust.
Again it's from the fringes, from the periphery of the system, that
so-called leading-edge thinkers, theorists, and researchers, the leaders
in the so-called new consciousness, are emerging. But the dominator system
is still very entrenched.
However, we wouldn't be talking here right now if there weren't already
a lot of changed consciousness. We have an opportunity now, in this period
of great system disequilibrium, for another shift. We're already on the
road towards a partnership society. But the question is: can we complete
that shift in time? One of my findings is that at a certain level of
technological development the dominator system literally goes into
self-destruct. The blade is the nuclear bomb. Even nature is rebelling
against man's conquest of nature in acid rain, in air and water pollution.
The message is clear: it is as if nature were saying to us, you either
reconnect with your ancient partnership roots, or I'll find myself another
species, perhaps another planet. Because we're doing so much intrinsic
RMN: There's an ideology in current circulation that humanity is
evolving toward a mutual expression of agape or fraternal, unconditional
love, from eros, the kind of love associated with desire and sexuality,
and that we are presently experiencing a transitional stage. What are your
thoughts on this?
RIANE: Love has been one of the most abused and co-opted terms in
dominator culture. It's interesting you use the word fraternal, as we are
used to being so very male-centered. You know, fraternal is brotherhood. I
think that even our language has conspired against us, because it's been a
language that, to a very large extent, came out of a dominator or
androcratic system. So I always make the point that what we're talking
about is really sisterly and brotherly love.
RMN: I was thinking more in terms of like fraternal twins.
RIANE: It's very difficult. David and I deal with that in The
Partnership Way, the new book we've written together in response to the
many people who asked for tools to help accelerate the shift from a
dominator to a partnership world. It's very hard, because we're all so
used to dominator language. But part of our new consciousness for the
twenty-first century is to free ourselves from the traps of that dominator
language, so we don't, for example, continue to say "mankind" or "he,"
rather than "she or he." To get away from always the male in front, I have
started to put "she" in front, rather than "he or she." Until we develop a
gender inclusive pronoun.
DAVID L: Yes, that's a good example of what's going on in people's
minds when they're captives of a dominator system. In other words, you
have this false dichotomy between eros and agape. You have this idea that
sex, eros, lust--all that is bad. And there is this more lofty, more
saintly, more spiritual alternative, which is tied up with brotherhood and
the love of humanity. This false dichotomy opens the way for pornography
and many other bad things that keep us trapped. The hope for the
twenty-first century is not to have a dichotomy between the two, but
rather a good working relationship. In other words, an enjoyment of the
fact that we have a body that has sexual identity, sexual capacities, a
body and spirit that can relate to other people, either sexually, or in
other forms of love, other forms of linking.
RMN: Right...well you've already anticipated the next question.
RIANE: I'd like to stay with that question a minute. When I was talking
about the word fraternal, I was also going to make the point that when we
think of brotherly love, fraternal love, which is the way agape has been
conventionally defined, we say that's good. But that's love between men.
That's the semantic implication of it. It implies that erotic love, the
kind of love that is characteristic of the relationship between women and
men, is inferior.
In line with what David is saying, I agree that that is a false
dichotomy. If we go back and look at earlier partnership-oriented
societies, we see that they do not make that spurious distinction that we
have been taught to make between the spiritual and the natural, between
spirit and nature.
In their iconography, nature is sacred. Now that's one of the biggest
lessons for us, in terms of ecological consciousness. Because if we don't
understand that the earth, the sky, the world, is sacred, that there is
something askew about this myth of man and spirituality being above woman
and nature, we're just going to keep destroying our planet. This is part
of the dominator problem. I also believe that agape can in fact be a very
important component in sexual love, in the sense of our bondedness, of our
connectedness. So it isn't like here's one category, and there's another
I think some of the trends we're seeing today, where women and men are
becoming loving friends to each other, as well as sexual partners, these
are very important partnership trends. It used to be that, if you're a
man, you have a wife who takes care of your household, you have a mistress
with whom you have sex, and you have friends who are men. That whole
schizophrenic thing is changing, so that there's truly friendship between
women and men more as the norm. I see that as part of the movement toward
integration, toward wholeness, towards healing and partnership.
RMN: Religion and sexuality have often been united in many pagan
cultures-the Celts, Babylonians, the art of Tantra all combined religious
and sexual ecstasy. Since then religions like Islam, Christianity, and
Judaism have all attempted to separate the two-with often disastrous
pathological effects. How do you see religion and sexuality co-evolving in
RIANE: I believe that some of the things that you see in Tantra are
rooted in this more partnership-oriented early spirituality, but they got
very distorted. What I'm saying is that, again, I don't see a fundamental
split between Eastern and Western. I see that most world religions today
represent degrees of dominator overlay, covering and often distorting a
partnership core. Of course, in the fundamentalist Christian and Moslem
sects, it's horrendous. Whatever partnership core of spirituality was left
is practically non-existent, because it's so encrusted, so crudded up by
this dominator overlay.
Like the attitude that sex and woman are inherently evil and dangerous.
That is a complete reversal of the earlier belief system, where woman and
sexuality were central. What was celebrated in the earlier more
partnership-oriented religion was the power to give life, to sustain life,
to enhance life, to give pleasure, rather than pain. It was recognized
that we all die, and the so-called "chtonic" or underground aspect of the
Goddess was therefore also recognized, as these people believed that all
of life came from the womb of the Goddess (the Earth), to then at death
(like the cycles of vegetation) again return to her womb to be reborn. For
example, in the Paleolithic, people worshipped in caves, which were
symbols of the return to the womb, and there were I am sure important
rites relating to this great mystery of birth, sex, death, and, in terms
of their belief system, rebirth.
I should add that these people understood that it takes both the female
and the male to give life--in other words that they understood and
appreciated the role of sex as part of the life force. For example, in
Catal Huyuk (the largest early agrarian or Neolithic site discovered to
date) there is a sculpture of a woman and a man embracing, and right next
to them, a woman with a child--the product of their union.
I mention this, because there are still people who believe that the
moment that men discovered they also had life-giving powers, they were
such brutes that they immediately enslaved women, and that this is how the
shift to male dominant societies happened. (Of course that is really a
dominator assumption about human nature, particularly male nature, that we
are inherently evil.)
In relation to your question about religion and sexuality co-evolving
in the future, I think that it is not coincidental that there is today so
much interest in mystical religions. Because the way I look at mystical
traditions is partly as remnants of the earlier more partnership-oriented
religion, where sex and women were revered. But then a very sad thing
happened. The original intent probably was forgotten, and, as in Tantric
yoga (where female sexuality is still seen as the source of mystical
illumination), these mystical religions also became very male
centered--and thus distorted.
Now our job in developing a truly new consciousness, a new spirituality
for the twenty-first century, is to clarify that, to understand that even
the mystical traditions are out of balance, to restore that balance and
get back to the hidden partnership core. And we now have the archeological
data to help us do this, and that's tremendously exciting.
I think that it is a mistake to say, "The Eastern is terrific, and the
Western is bad." If we are going to have a partnership consciousness in
the twenty-first century, we have to unravel and reweave just about
DAVID L: A new book I'm working on deals with a crucial aspect of this
consciousness, moral sensitivity. I believe it sheds light on this basic
question about the separation of religion and sex, spirit and nature. I'm
taking a new look at the founders of the scientific study of moral
sensitivity-Immanuel Kant, Marx, Engels, Emile Durkheim, Sigmund Freud,
Jean Piaget, moving into current times, including the key work of Carol
Gilligan, Marija Gimbutas, and Riane bearing on moral sensitivity.
Out of this is emerging a new theory of moral sensitivity as an organic
process. In other words, moral sensitivity has mainly been seen in terms
of socialization, or conditioning-something imposed upon this lower
organism. We are seen as animals who have to be stuffed with this moral
sensitivity which comes from some higher mysticism. What I'm showing is
that moral sensitivity arises out of the organism, developing through
evolution. What I'm convinced will be part of the consciousness of the
twenty-first century is this understanding that morality, that moral
sensitivity, is not an "add-on." It develops out of nature. It also has
sexual roots. Freud actually had this insight, but typically, as a captive
of the dominator system, he and his insight were completely screwed up and
distorted--the whole Oedipus complex thing, the primal hoard, killing of
the father, and so on.
RIANE: I think that if we talk about sexuality, the Oedipus complex, we
see that Freud very accurately described the dominator psyche--or rather,
the male dominator psyche. Unfortunately he went around saying it's the
human psyche, and people believed him.
Now we're moving away from that. Maslow and a lot of feminist
psychologists emphasize human growth needs, not so much what Maslow called
defense needs. And believe me, in a dominator system defense needs are
central. It's constructed so that there is constant war, even between the
female and male halves of the human species. If you can't even trust the
person you have the most intimate relationship with, how in the world are
you ever going to have a harmonious relationship with people of a
different color, or of a different belief system?
Sexuality has been distorted, beginning with this idea that woman is an
object. Unfortunately, we see that in both Eastern and Western cultures. I
can't stress this point enough in terms of twenty-first century
spirituality, and it's hard for some people who have been very attracted
by some of the Eastern disciplines, precisely because some of that old
partnership core is, like a thread, still a little bit more visible. But
look at Buddhism. Look at Hinduism. Look at how dominator-oriented those
systems really are. Not all of the sects, of course, but, for example,
this whole idea of the Zen master who beats his disciples to "enlighten"
them-it really is a dominator approach. Not that there haven't been
survivals of ancient partnership-oriented wisdoms in Eastern traditions.
But superimposed on them are dominator religious teachings.
In Hinduism you have the caste system, and its justification of
brutality by claiming that it's your karma to be of the lower despised
caste and to suffer at the hands of the higher castes. If it's your karma,
why change society? It's just a way of maintaining a dominator system.
Like the Judeo-Christian idea that an inscrutable male God has decreed
that we suffer in punishment for disobeying his orders and that all that
matters is salvation in a far away heaven, rather than what happens here
on earth. If you can't change misery, oppression, and exploitation because
it's divinely ordained, why bother? That's how these religions have been
used against us.
Getting back to sexuality, I think one of the great tasks for the
twenty-first century is precisely the reclamation of our uniquely human
sexuality, which is not only reproduction-oriented, it is also
pleasure-oriented, ecstatically oriented, as in what we today call the
It's very interesting that when you talk to women, they're often still
hanging on to this earlier view of sexuality. It isn't this idea of
conquest or scoring, as in the dominator male model of sex. It's the
intimacy, the bonding, the sense of connectedness that they want. The
ancients recognized that this intimacy, and this pleasure, were divine
gifts, the gifts of the Goddess. To them sexuality was sacred.
Contrast that with the dominator view that equates sex with men's
domination and humiliation and possession---and often brutalization and
even killing-of women, with the dehumanized images of women and of women's
bodies in pornography and advertising. Small wonder there is so much male
violence against women! And this of course is not unrelated to the
dominator religious teachings that women (and sex) are evil, that really
"good" or saintly men do not have intimate sexual contact with women and
the dominator ideal that "real" men only do so when they're clearly
dominant, and thus won't be tainted by the inferior "feminine."
RMN: Do you feel that polytheism is more generally associated with the
feminine principle, and monotheism with the masculine principle? How do
you think this applies to the dominator/partnership model?
RIANE: I don't think that polytheism is necessarily more associated
with the feminine principle. But let me try to untangle something about
the feminine and the masculine principle first, may I? In my work I stress
that the way we define masculinity and femininity is to a very large
extent an artificial construct that has arisen primarily out of a
We are just beginning to understand, for example, that this idea that
the yin, the feminine, is passive and pallid is nonsense. One of the
themes in earlier religion was the fire, the shamanistic fire of the
priestesses, and the active creative sexuality of the Goddess. In fact
some of the Hindu Tantric tradition has that in it still.
The idea that there is no contemplative element in the masculine, no
caring element; that to be masculine is to be assertive, aggressive, and
conquering is also a distortion.
So talking of the feminine and masculine principle is useful at this
point because people make certain associations of clusters of human
qualities with them. But I'm hoping that--as a new consciousness for the
twenty-first century really develops--we will find other names for these
qualities that are essentially gender-neutral qualities, like being active
or passive, or being caring and nonviolent or aggressive and violent.
Monotheism, as we have known it, has been basically, "My God's better
than your God, and if you don't believe me I'll kill you." That is very
much associated with the dominator system. But I think it's a mistake to
describe the earlier religion as a polytheistic religion, because it was
more of what I would call--Campbell used the term--synchronistic. I deal
with this in The Chalice and the Blade in the chapter on the Legacy of the
Goddess. Everybody had a different Goddess, and she had many
manifestations, many aspects of the divine. She could be the Creatrix, the
grandmother or crone. She could be the Mother Goddess. Or she could be the
maiden. But there was also an underlying commonality.
Perhaps in Catal Huyuk the Goddess had her own name. In the Balkans,
where UCLA archaeologist Marija Gimbutas has done her excavations, they
also worshipped the Goddess and she had many of the same attributes,
although they may have called her by different names. So I think that the
whole distinction between polytheism and monotheism is again a construct
of the dominator system. Because what we really have here is a basic
recognition of certain universals, but also a recognition of, and respect
DAVID L: In terms of a twenty-first century consciousness, what I
increasingly see is a recognition once again of the false dichotomy of
this idea of monotheism versus polytheism. Generation after generation,
we've been sold this idea that monotheism represented the great advance in
religion. There were all those pagans worshipping all those gods and
goddesses, and we were told how bad that was. There was this great advance
that Moses and the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton brought where one god
Of course, one god--one male god--prevailed. If you were inventing a
totalitarian society, that's exactly what you'd want. You'd say what we're
going to sell all those dumb bunnies out there on is this idea there's
going to be one god, and that god's going to be male--and of course we're
going to control this god, he's ours, we the priests who get our money
from the rulers. This then not only excludes all those people out there,
all the masses, from any sense of direct access to the "higher power" it
also excludes the possibility of anything approaching democracy at an
early point in history. It condemns the mass of humanity to be in the
hands of tyrannical structures century after century after century, by
imposing this idea of a false monotheism.
The truth about the earlier situation is very difficult for most people
to grasp, because--and this is again a function of a dominator system--our
minds are firmly imbedded in the either/or mindset. It can't be both/and;
it has to be either/or. Well, if you get out of this bind into the
both/and perspective, and you look at the nature of the deity back there,
you find both a unity and a plurality. You could have your own goddess for
your particular locality, and call it A. And in the next country, people
could call their goddess B, and others could have gods they called C or D.
But they were all visualized as part of the same overriding deity. And
when you had that kind of situation, you didn't feel compelled to go and
beat up your neighbor, and rape all his women, and grab all his
possessions, because that would be a breech of a sacred bond. You were all
bound together as part of Gaia. This is the kind of peaceful attitude and
respect for diversity that was shattered by this system we've been sold.
RIANE: But you would not think of women as "your neighbor's women."
First of all, descent was matrilineal, it went through the mother, and
women were not property. So that whole construction you've just used, your
neighbor and his women, would not be part of that consciousness. Again,
you see how the language, the way we're used to conceptualizing, has
DJB: The values of a partnership society are obvious--peace,
prosperity, creative expression, etc.-however, in viewing evolution from a
holistic perspective, do you see the dominator type of society playing a
beneficial role in the larger scheme of things?
RIANE: No. People seem to think that, if you look at
evolution, just because something happened, it had to happen. That's in
line with the deterministic, linear, nineteenth century, idea that
everything moves in upward stages. Therefore, if we had this dominator
phase, then there must have been some kind of great evolutionary design to
The most basic technologies on which all civilization is based, the
fundamentals-agriculture, pottery, the social technologies of organized
religion, of law-giving--are rooted in the earlier partnership societies.
Now, you do get some real technological leaps when you go into the machine
age, and now the electronic age. But I've always asked myself the
question: what would the industrial revolution have been like in a society
that oriented to a partnership model? Would we have built factories where
people were cogs in machines? Obviously not.
So I think we need to make a distinction between the fact that we have
this thrust towards higher technological complexity, and the accident that
some of it happened in a time when we oriented very largely to the
dominator model, and not try to always see causality here.
DAVID L: To me there are two aspects here, one
logical, the other psychological. Logically we're asking was this a
necessary step in evolution? Could we have gotten to where we are without
it? And the tendency is to say, no, we couldn't have; it was just one of
those awful necessary things we had to go through. But to me it's much
more vivid ifI look at it as a psychologist. The older I get, the more I'm
horrified by the following picture of our development over a lifetime.
We're born as organisms into this world. We go through all this stress
and strain of growing up. If we're a member of a fairly affluent Western
family, for example, we escape from our primary family when we're in our
Now in the best of cases, we spend the next twenty years, at least into
our forties, in armchairs in the offices of psychologists and other
counselors, trying to shed all the awful stuff that was loaded on us
during our first twenty years. Then in our forties or fifties
individuation and "maturity" takes over, and we begin to get just a little
bit of freedom from all the distortions of our past, all the problems. We
don't have to blame our parents any longer. We can begin to be maybe
really creative, to think about other people. We begin to get the feeling
for how to do this in our sixties, in our seventies, and so we reach this
great stage where we can contribute something to the advancement of
humanity--and we die!
There's been this whole life expended on trying to reach the healthy
beginning point! And this is the story of humanity! Now what Riane's work
has opened up is the vision of the alternative, both in personal human
terms, and in historical terms. In personal human terms, just simply
imagine what life could be like if you were born into a partnership-type
society--that is, an advanced version of what we now know existed earlier,
where you didn't have all the distortions, the imbalance, the degradation
and the stunting of the dominator system to work through. Once you left
the bosom of the family in your early twenties, why you just went
automatically to work for the good things of the earth. You had anywhere
from twenty to sixty years to enjoy life and add to the thrust of positive
conscious evolution-rather than waste another lifetime adding nothing but
the feeling of meaningless futility behind.
When we went to Crete we saw the remnants of the magnificent peak of
that early culture, Minoan Crete. You look at these glorious ruins, and
you realize that here was this very advanced state. They really knew what
life was about, and what to do with it--the beauty, the ritual, the art,
the trade, the economy, the greater sharing, rather than the hoarding of
wealth. Then there's this great drop off, with the dominator takeover, and
we're only now beginning to get back to the same place we were thousands
of years ago. So I think the idea that the prehistoric shift from
partnership to dominator systems was a necessary step in evolution is
Margulis and James Lovelock have together synthesized a theory which
they have termed the
Gaia hypothesis, to explain how the delicate chemical ratios in our
planet's oceans and atmosphere are maintained such that life is possible.
They claim that the planet earth operates much like a single living
system-one huge organism. Does this theory, in your opinion, support the
notion that our planet could, in a sense, be slowly transforming human
existence into a global partnership community for its own survival and
RIANE: They called it the Gaia hypothesis because
was the ancient Greek Creatrix, she was the Mother Goddess. So I look at
their Gaia hypothesis as a scientific update of the belief system of these
earlier more partnership-oriented cultures who, as I said, did see the
earth as alive.
RMN: Do you think that wars can be viewed as an
intellectually organized attempt to externalize territorial/emotional
conflict, and what do you think that men can learn from women about
emotional navigation and expression?
RIANE: In the dominator system what happens is that we
become a schizophrenic species. The women--the female half of humanity--in
the androcratic, male-dominant version of this system are not supposed to
have any say in social policy. This system negates the essentials. Caring,
compassion, nonviolence, the things that make it possible for us to
survive, and thrive, are relegated to women who have no say in
decision-making, And male identity is equated with conquest.
So we start with this premise. But even if it were true-and the
evidence isn't all in--that men are more predisposed to learn violent
behaviors because of hormonal or whatever factors, because they don't give
birth or some other factor, this would be all the more reason that we need
to very rapidly leave behind a society which constantly and systematically
teaches men these behaviors.
We hand the little boy a toy sword or a toy missile, and say go get
them. We hand the little girl a doll and say be nice. But then we tell the
girl, you have nothing to say in social policy. And we wonder why do we
have a system where we don't honor caring, compassion, and nonviolence!
It's a crazy system. I think that yes, at this point, because we have
for so long been in a dominator system, men have a great deal to learn
from women. There's no question about it. But this is difficult, and it's
not only difficult for men to learn from women, but it's difficult for
women to learn from women, because of the whole idea that authority
figures should be male. We've all been conditioned to think of God as a
man. We have been conditioned to think of the person, the entity, that you
learn from as masculine.
But this is not an issue of women against men, or men against women.
We're dealing with a system, a dominator system, in which even the few
women who make it to the top, like a Margaret Thatcher, have to keep
proving every inch of the way when they're at the top of the male
dominator system, that they're not too soft or "feminine." So, what's
necessary is a mass entry of women into the public sphere. (Look at Norway
for example, where they have a parliament that's about forty or more
percent women and public policy reflects more of the "feminine" values.)
And it's also a question of the redefinition of what it means to be a
man. The good news is that many men are now questioning the old models of
masculinity, asking what does it really mean to be masculine or feminine?
And they're beginning to recognize that this whole conquest thing is
not masculine. It's just plain brutal.
DAVID L: I see another aspect, from my current
explorations into moral sensitivity. Without going into the reason for it,
a fundamental contrast between the two models is that in that earlier
state, toward which we may be moving if we're lucky now, moral sensitivity
was the norm. In other words, spirituality was not a matter of an hour on
Sunday. Spirituality was a twenty-four hour-a-day business, seven days a
week, round the year, round the lifetime, and moral insensitivity was
abnormal. Now if you look at what has prevailed during the period of the
rise of the world's so-called great religions-Christianity, Buddhism,
Hinduism, Mohammedism--you see that under the dominator system, for a span
of five thousand years we've endured a situation in which moral
insensitivity is the norm.
In other words, the average person is viewed as immoral, amoral, and
the truly morally sensitive person is seen as abnormal, as the exception
or as a freak. The people in leadership will say, Oh, I would love to
abide by the golden rule and so on, but the world isn't set up that way.
If I were to go act, they'd kill me. So, consequently, I am the president
of the United States, but Z must of course lie. Let's say I am Harry
Truman, but I must drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki--that's just the way the rotten world is. This relates to the
fundamental question of why we have wars. In that earlier
partnership-oriented system the question of war was almost unthinkable. In
other words, it would be viewed as such a fundamental violation of the
nature of one's relation to the universe that one would explore all kinds
of alternatives short of war. There's no check, no limits, we'll go to
war. We'll have this wonderful war because there just aren't the moral
RIANE: Just think of the term "nobleman." A very short
time ago, the "nobleman" was the warrior. Talk about an immoral norm.
We've been gradually rejecting that. But organized killing or being a
warrior was once the only "honorable" career for an upper-class male.
Back to the consciousness for the twenty-first century, if there's to
be a twenty-first century, the whole issue now is leaving behind the
dominator overlay. The partnership consciousness has always remained, but
it's remained in the underground, if you will, either buried in mystical
traditions, in religious rhetoric, or in the so-called women's world. It's
been there because otherwise society couldn't have gone on. But now it's a
question of breaking through, bringing it into social governance.
RMN: If males tend to demonstrate violence externally,
do you think it's true that females are often more internally violent, and
what do you feel that women can learn from men's tendency to
intellectualize and thus objectify emotional states?
RIANE: People say that men aren't emotional, and that
only women are emotional. But if you think about that, it's not true.
Men are socialized so that they're allowed one type of emotion: anger,
contempt, rage. They're actually encouraged to be angry, and to express
anger. It's a "masculine" thing to do-as it serves to maintain their
Women get all the rest of the emotions. Except anger. So naturally, if
you can't ever express anger, what are you going to do? You internalize
So here we have this insane system again, crippling both women and men.
Men certainly need other emotions, other feelings, "soft" feelings such as
compassion and empathy. And women need to be able to assert themselves and
to learn to express anger. And men need to learn to listen to women's
I don't think it's an issue of women learning from men how to
objectify. Education for women, which is what gives us the ability to
better use our minds, is so recent that it's absolutely mind-boggling. Did
you know that until the mid-nineteenth century there were no American
universities that accepted women. Not one. The few women who had higher
education got it through a tutorial system, where a father said, I want my
daughter to also be educated. I think women have just as much of a
capacity to be intellectual as men, or to be objective.
But I don't think that being objective is the answer. Because we now
know that nobody can truly be objective, that we're all products of our
cultures--and that often so-called objectivity is a way for men to detach
themselves, to not feel anything when they are examining, for example,
war. As in counting how many bombs were dropped, rather than dealing with
the human suffering.
theory of cultural evolution assumes the existence of what he calls memes-
units of cultural information-- that seek to replicate themselves by
hopping from brain to brain, and like genes, are subject to the laws of
natural selection. In this context, dominator and partnership models of
society can be viewed as being composed of memes that are competing with
one another for the occupation of human brains. Does this view add any
further insight into your theory of cultural evolution?
RIANE: I prefer Vilmos Csanyi's and Humberto
Maturana's views. Csanyi speaks of the replication of ideas, not only the
replication of cells. And that's a very important component in cultural
evolution, whether or not it happens, as
DAVID L: One reason for the popularity of gene
theories is because it's hard for some people to visualize how all
cultural transmission can be through reading books, and teaching, where
it's a transmission of ideas from the printed page tothe eyes, to the
mind. They look at the evidence and think there's more going on there.
Jung, for example, came up with the idea of the collective unconscious,
that there is transmission through archetypes.
Sheldrake's idea of a giant invisible memory bank is that there is so
much evidence of other forms of transmission. A huge amount of so-called
psychic research into telepathy, clairvoyance, and that whole realm
indicates there are other forms of transmission that enter the replication
process which Vilmos Csanyi and Maturana articulate beautifully. I've also
noticed that the gene-theorists tend to be more basically conservative and
traditionalist. Here it may also be interesting to note that, in political
psychology studies show a strong positive correlation between liberalism
and empathy, and a negative correlation between empathy and conservatism.
RIANE: Let me put that into historical context, in the
context of the tension between the partnership and the dominator models.
The question of empathy is central here. Because one of the things that
you have to do in the dominator system is to find some way to deaden
empathy. For example, how in the world is a man supposed to do the kinds
of things that he's supposed to do in war, and have empathy?
While we're on that subject, somebody was telling me of evidence
suggesting that when we humans engage in helpful behavior, there is a
release of a chemical bodily reward. We feel better for it. And yet in the
dominator system that empathic impulse, that helpful impulse, is
constantly being suppressed or distorted.
RMN: You have made use of
Ralph Abraham's systems theory
which explains the motions of cultural trends in terms of a response to
chaotic or periodic attractors. What historical examples have you
discovered which fit into this model of cultural evolution?
RIANE: Ralph speaks a great deal about attractors, and
I have looked at the partnership and the dominator models as attractors.
Using Ralph's terminology, if we look at prehistory as a basin, then the
stable attractor there was the partnership model. I'm talking about the
mainstream now, because obviously the attractor on the fringes was the
Once we get into recorded history it becomes more complex. There are
still elements of the partnership model, but they are co-opted and
exploited by the dominator system, like women's nurturing work in the
family, which is given no monetary reward and little status.
Still, what you also see is what Ralph calls periodicity, periods when
the partnership model becomes a stronger attractor. But it never quite
makes it. You never see the change, the system's transformation, where it
becomes the primary attractor, and in The Chalice and the Blade,
I describe some of these periods. Such as early Christianity. But then the
Church allies itself (under the leadership of the so-called church
fathers) with the Roman emperor,
Constantine. And what happens is that you begin to see again a very
hierarchic, completely male dominant structure--no women allowed in the
priesthood--and a very violent structure, as manifested in the
Inquisition. In other words you've got the dominator model again.
Let's now jump to modern times, to the sixties, when women and men were
beginning to definitely reject the sexual stereotypes. Women were
rejecting their exclusion from leadership and from the so-called public
sphere. And men and women were rejecting the equation of masculinity with
warfare. Is it really heroic to be a warrior? Wait a minute, they said, no
it isn't. But again you had a regression, the "new conservatism," the
And today what we are continuing to see in the world is a mounting
partnership resurgence. But it is against tremendous dominator resistance,
as we can see all around us in what's happening, from the U.S. Supreme
Court to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. In fact, the stronger the
partnership thrust, the greater resistance. Until there is a systems
shift--which is where the new consciousness has a major role to play.
DAVID L: This is another reason for the force of
Riane's book, because it puts the challenge of social change within the
most forceful context I know of. Those of us who have worked at various
stages for civil rights and other causes have certainly had the experience
of this massive wall of resistance, the inertia within the system. Much of
the evil force of the dominator system is just this inertia. In any kind
of system the resistance against change is phenomenal.
So we've had this idea--and Darwinian theory helped lock it in - that
all change has to come slowly. We've had the idea that it's going to take
many generations. But ever since 1945 when the bombs went off, people have
begun to realize we don't have time for slow social change. So to the
activist, the great excitement about chaos theory is that it shows you can
have a system going along, and a little blip appears within it that
doesn't seem to amount to a hill of beans. It may appear and then
disappear--but it may also spread with astounding rapidity, and become
more and more prevalent until the whole system has changed. This is why
the strange attractor phenomena is fascinating, not only to mathematicians
such as Ralph Abraham, but to social theorists. Because they see here a
model for hope that we may survive, that there may be enough of us
creating what, in Prigoginian terms, is called a nucleation, which in
dynamic terms is a strange attractor. And chaos theory shows that if there
are enough of us, and if luck is with us, we can, in a relatively short
amount of time, which is all the time we've got, transform the whole
Ilya Prigogine can show this happening in chemical solutions. Ralph
Abraham can show it happening with computer projections. What is exciting
about Riane's book is that she shows this happening on a global scale in
prehistory. For these were the dynamics of the Kurgan invasions. The
Kurgan invaders acted in effect as a strange attractor. You see the
strange attractor at work, coming, going, until within a relatively short
period of time the whole system has been taken over by the dominator
culture acting as a "peripheral invader," to use Eldridge and Gould's
Because we now at last have the pre-historical data that shows us how
this shift happened in a negative and anti-human direction back there, we
can now understand how the same kind of rapid shift can happen today--but
this time in a pro-human direction. Another implication of chaos theory is
extremely important. Just going by the mathematics, or chemistry of chaos
theory, one might think that when we move over from natural to social
science this remains a random process, and we have to just sit by and hope
that we're part of a strange attractor. But other systems theorists--Ervin
Laszlo, for example, who heads the General Evolution Research Group,
which Riane and I helped form--are showing the effect of human change
agents. We don't have to just sit back and wait for this mystic scientific
process to maybe work in our advantage. We can show that human
intervention, through change agents, can definitely make a difference.
DJB: Do you think that there is a relationship between
the two types of human civilization that you define, and the
over-specialization of specific hemispheres in the brain?
RIANE: I think that that's a very complex question,
and David probably could answer it better. But I think that it's a fallacy
that people seem to think that this earlier archaic prehistoric period was
all right brain.
If you look at Crete, if you look at the technology, they obviously did
some very logical, linear so-called left brain thinking. If you look at
these massive ritual centers, they had to have had some left brain
capacity to do this. And look at all the inventions that we owe to these
Clearly prehistory wasn't all right brain. I think it was more
balanced, and I think in that sense you're right about an
over-specialization of the left brain in dominator societies. But of
course you know it's not that clear that they're that localized either,
these faculties. And David can tell you more about that. I think that when
we're talking about a partnership society, we are talking about an
integration of what we now think of as right and left brain, about more of
a system view, a holographic view.
DAVID L: Certainly, the earlier culture was more right
brain oriented than our culture tends to be, but there is all this
evidence indicating that it was a much more balanced holistic functioning,
where you're able to draw upon both halves of the brain with some
facility. As Riane pointed out in the example of Stonehenge, there are
indications of a high mathematical capacity in early partnership-oriented
cultures. But at the same time there is a correlation between left brain
dominance and the dominator system. We speak of right brain dominance,
left brain dominance, and the reason we do is that brain research shows
that one or the other can dominate and suppress the other modes.
The prototypical situation for somebody today, particularly a male in
the male dominant culture that has prevailed for five thousand years now,
intensified by the so-called Age of Reason --is that you sop up a little
bit of insight from the right brain half, but then you immediately
suppress that original source of information. You shift wholly into the
mathematics, or an elaborate left-brained rationality process. You develop
the logic but suppress and shove under the whole feeling side of life, the
whole realm of affectivity, which tends to be handled more by the right
brain half. So there is a correspondence there, but it's not this
simplistic notion the earlier culture was just blindly right brained.
Julian Jaynes popularized the idea the earlier culture was right brained,
and the later dominator culture was left brained, and this later culture
not only represented true civilization but also the first appearance in
human evolution of consciousness!
DJB: Could you make use of Rupert Sheldrake's recently
refined theory of morphogenetic fields-- that is, non-material regions of
organic influence---to shed any more light on the evolution of dominator
and partnership societies?
DAVID L: I recently finished writing an introduction
to a new book by Ervin Laszlo in which he provides substantiation for
Sheldrake and other morphogenetic field theorists from many different
scientific fields. I think the easiest way to see the possible relation
between Sheldrake's theory and the shift to a dominator or a partnership
system is what people have picked up on in the one hundredth monkey story.
In other words, Sheldrake's theory suggests that if you go back into
the early partnership culture, there was a certain point at which the
numbers of dominator-system-oriented nomads along the periphery, all
carrying the same killer ethos, reached a critical point in imprinting
this ethos on the morphogenetic field, or the "cosmic schmaz," or whatever
you want to call it, and it began to crowd out the other. I think in our
time the same process is going on, only in reverse. And so it's extremely
important for those of us who have regained this partnership ethos to both
increase in numbers and feel intensively about this to re-imprint this
ethos with greater effect, greater force on the "cosmic schmaz." I think
there's something there, and I think it relates to the dynamics, but of
course we're still a long way off from fully understanding it.
RMN: The gylanic principle flourished during the
sixteenth century Renaissance with a partial marriage of art and science.
What other historical examples have you observed where the symbiotic union
of the subjective and objective realms are indicative of a gylanic
society, and do you see the current interest in fractals, brain machines,
and the poetic musings of quantum physics as being examples of a reunion
between these two areas of human experience?
RIANE: I think that these may be manifestations of
emerging gylanic consciousness. But I also think that a lot of the
so-called leading edge thinking today continues to be the male
Now certainly one of the very interesting things that's happening with
fractals, for example, is that it's an image that's very much like a
mandala. If you
look at some of the art of the Neolithic, the meanders, the serpentine
lines, you see a lot of mandala-like images. These were epiphanies of the
divine, of the Goddess. So I see a relationship, but I also see that
without the partnership mythos, we are always back to the same thing.
Without the integrative story, and without the understanding that a truly
new science requires not only integrating the "feminine," but real live
people called women, we are just going to keep dancing around the problem
and neither science nor art nor society is going to fundamentally change.
DAVID L: Yes. This is something about which I feel
intensely as a male who has actively worked within male-dominated
scientific contexts to try to inject the feminist perspective, to get more
women involved. Take fractals, take chaos theory, this whole fascinating
computer generated mathematical excitement without what Riane is talking
about, without this larger balanced masculine/ feminine or
feminine/masculine ethos, and all this "new science" will become merely
another male head trip. That is, it will be reduced to merely another
entertainment for primarily male academics who gather in symposia, which
in one way or another are in the end sponsored by the military industrial
complex, which all too often still pays the bulk of their salaries.
This is the horrible alternative we face with every one of these great
discoveries reconnecting with the past. There is this danger they will be
co-opted, degraded and defused by the present system, unless the people
who are leading the revolution in "new science" understand this larger
picture and ethos. The man who wrote the enormously popular book
Gleick, for example, has no understanding of this larger context that
I can see. He's done a beautiful job of providing information, but
typically this can all go to simply serve the purposes of entertainment
and the military industrial complex.
DJB: How do you envision civilization and human
consciousness to be one hundred years from now?
RIANE: That depends on whether we take the dominator
or the partnership route. But I'm convinced that if we take the dominator
route, there won't be much in the way of any kind of human consciousness
in a hundred years, because chances are that we won't be here.
If we do take the partnership route, I see a tremendous growth of
empathy in both women and men. Even in women in the dominator model it's
very selective. We've been permitted empathy for those around us, but
we're not permitted any action to follow that empathy. So what good does
I see a society where doing good will not be an insult, as it is now,
as in the pejorative "do gooder" or "bleeding-heart." I see a world where
the most highly valued work will have the consciousness of caring.
Marx spoke of the alienation of labor. I speak of the alienation of
caring labor, which is the work that's traditionally been relegated to
women and to volunteers, and has not been paid or has been paid very
poorly. So I think we'll become much more conscious of what's really
I think that our consciousness will not make the artificial distinction
between spirituality and nature, with the male being associated with the
spirit and woman being associated with nature. We will also have gotten
over our ridiculous love affair with technologies of destruction, which is
inherent in the dominator system, because here the technological emphasis
has to be on technologies that make it possible to more efficiently
dominate--be it the new technologies of mind control, be it weaponry, or
be it exploitative technologies.
I think we'll become conscious that women's issues are not secondary or
peripheral, but rather the most critical issues. Take population, for
example. That's a women's issue, an issue of reproductive freedom, of
access to birth control technologies. Even more important, it's an issue
of life choices for women other than breeders of sons for men.
If you look at the most overpopulated, poorest, and most violent
regions in the world today, the Middle East, Latin America, or parts of
Africa and Asia, you see there the dominator configuration.
So with a new partnership consciousness we will be able to see reality
far more clearly. I think that we'll be much saner.
RMN: Do you see man/woman teams presiding in future
governments? Can you give us a historical perspective on this? What
effects do you think this would have on areas such as ecology,
nationalism, and the distribution of wealth, for example?
RIANE: I love your question, and I could spend a day
on it. I think that one thing that we're beginning to see is that we've
been taught to think of leadership as power over. And now we're beginning
to understand, even in the corporate sector, that a really good leader is
a person who inspires people, who can get from them their highest
productivity, their highest creativity.
Women have been used to doing this, because that's part of the training
we get for child rearing. So I think that the role of women in leadership
is indispensable. And I think that it will affect everything!
Take for example ecology. Men are socialized in the dominator system
not to clean up after themselves. So that's exactly what they've done with
nuclear waste, they've just put it out there with no notion of what in the
world to do with it. Women would never do this because, you see, a man is
brought up in the dominator system to think there's always going to be
someone to clean up after him--namely a woman.
DJB: How have your personal relationships,
particularly your marriage, inspired your theories of global evolution?
RIANE: I really want to honor David here. Without his
partnership, I couldn't have done it. It's just that simple. He has been
my friend, my mentor, my sounding board. He has sometimes critiqued me,
made me worry about what I was doing, and he always gave me tremendous
amounts of information. Above all, he gave me tremendous amounts of
DAVID L: From my point of view, it's been extremely
important to me to interact with a woman who is able to love me as I'm
able to love her on some basis of equality. Rather than have the old
superior-inferior relationship, which many men and women have. It takes up
so much of a lifetime, so many marriages, and so many affairs these days
to work through all these difficulties of the dominator-dominated
patterning that's built into us. It's just wonderful to me to reach a
stage in life where all that, at least, is in the past. But of most
importance to me is the intellectual advantage. I often think I was
tremendously fortunate to happen to link up with a woman so important in
making this breakthrough we've been talking about. Women are making this
breakthrough and they've begun to see out beyond this cage that every male
is still encased in, almost without exception.
I feel fortunate in that I happened to link up with a woman at the
forefront in her time in getting outside that cage and seeing it for what
it was and is.
You see, Riane took these insights, added to them, and built them into
this forceful new theoretical framework. It hangs together as a theory of
cultural evolution, of historical development, and as a weltanschauung or
world-view; once you've grasped it, you can actually re-evaluate the whole
of your intellectual experience. You can turn your head clear around and
for the first time see life and it's possibilities in a balanced
In my own intellectual development, five systems of thought have been
important to my mental growth. The first was the Christian mythos. The
second was the Freudian. The third was the Marxian. The fourth was the
field theoretical perspective of
Kurt Lewin and the fifth
has been systems science. Each reoriented my whole intellectual universe.
But the sixth was Riane's perspective, and I now find it by far the most
useful because it embraces more than any other, more questions, and
corrects the imbalances of these perspectives. I feel it's very much a
weltanschauung for the twenty-first century.