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Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body- New Paths to Power and Love

Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body- New Paths to Power and Love

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by Riane Tennenhaus Eisler

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Riane Eisler shows us how history has consistently promoted the link between sex and violence--and how we can sever this link and move to a politics of partnership rather than domination in all our relations.


Riane Eisler shows us how history has consistently promoted the link between sex and violence--and how we can sever this link and move to a politics of partnership rather than domination in all our relations.

Editorial Reviews

Donna Seaman
isler's "Chalice and the Blade" (1987) has sold hundreds of thousands of copies, proving her own assertion that people are hungry for fresh perspectives on the human condition. In her new book, the bold paradigm-challenger continues her quest for a more comprehensive understanding of the cultural, spiritual, and political forces that drive us by exploring the complex realm of intimate relationships and posing some startling questions about our attitudes toward pain and pleasure, sex and spirituality. Why, Eisler asks, did sex, once the "sacred gift of the Goddess," become synonymous with evil? Why did veneration for women and their capacity for sustaining life change into such contempt and loathing? As Eisler traces the path of this destructive and pervasive bias, she reveals just how adverse its effect has been on every aspect of human life. Eisler makes some stunning points in this strongly argued, well-supported, and mind-stretching narrative, then urges us to imagine viable alternatives to the "sacralization of pain" and the "eroticism of violence" that stand in such stark and baffling contrast to our inherent "yearning for connection" and our aptitude for love. This is a gutsy and very important book.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.62(d)

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Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body--New Paths to Power and Love 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Historical facts of World history provide the basis for this book. Sexuality is a part of life regardless of how we use, do not use, or abuse this gift. Knowledge helps us to make better choices. Forgotten knowledge and wisdom for both men and women are found within the pages.
BrianGriffith More than 1 year ago
In this book Riane Eisler focuses on the issues surrounding joy. Why, she asks, are love and evil, cruelty and pleasure, so confounded in our private and public lives? Her answers involve a journey through the heart of civilization as we know it: "...it may well be that at least in some instances the Christian condemnation of sexual "licentiousness" was due to the ... all too common association of sex with violence and domination. ... But the Church did not then - any more than it does now - condemn the association of sex with violence... Instead, it condemned sexual pleasure." Eisler sets out to reconstruct the history of sex and love, starting with the bonobos chimpanzees. She traces the biological evolution of pleasure and the "chemistry of love". Endorphins become a powerful pleasure-reward for social bonding. Sex takes an importance far beyond reproduction. A different Darwinism emerges, stressing the survival of those with the greatest capacity for joy, love and mutual care. In Eisler's critical path, the future belongs not to those with the greatest means of coercion, or even with the best means of production, but to those able to inspire partnership between former competitors. It may seem odd, but the view that love and joy are central in human development is a dubious and unproven theory. Before it can be taken seriously, it must be backed with "hard" scientific and historical evidence. Eisler therefore supports her observations with a respectable 54 pages of reference notes. Most of the book comes under the heading, "Where Do We Go From Here?", in which Eisler spins her distinctive moral vision. To her mind, the modern media link of sex with violence: "...is not (as is often claimed) a product of modern sexual "laxness", but imbedded in ancient dominator traditions - this is not "the sexual revolution". It is the dominator sexual counter-revolution." She turns to praising real people who are building families of mutuality, politics of compassion, or to use Hazel Henderson's term, "the love economy". Through her Partnership Studies Center, Eisler works with like-minded people around the world. She introduces some of them: the Ecopolis Culture and Health Center in Moscow, a network called Women Living Under Muslim Laws, the Oakland Men's Project, the Mothers of El Salvador, Business for Social Responsibility, the Defense of Children International, the Prague-based East-West Gender Studies Center, or the Partnership Research Group at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing (which has produced a book called The Chalice and the Blade in Chinese Culture). As she writes, Eisler's sentences grow longer, with the cadence of someone excited. The sympathetic reader may feel walls crumbling. If the sentences are run on, who cares? In her last section, Eisler looks to myths and stories for a reconstruction of love. Among the stories she shares is a poem by her partner David Loye, transforming the tale of Adam and Eve into a tender touch after a bad dream. --author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some books change your outlook or inform your entire world view for the rest of your life. This is one of those books. Eisler's passion shines through in the detailed and complete reasearch conducted and linked together to form an understandable narative of a vast subject matter. The book is long and intellectual but well worth the effort. I strongly recommend reading Chalice and the Blade first. I read it for a class in college and have since read all of her books. I give Sacred Pleasure and it's companion the Chalice and the Blade as gifts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago