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Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body--New Paths to Power and Love Paperback – May 10, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (May 10, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062502832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062502834
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From Sumer to ancient Athens and Rome, medieval Europe, the Islamic world and traditional China, rigidly male-dominated societies, argues feminist historian Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade), relied on pain or the fear of it to maintain hierarchical relations of dominance and submission. Patriarchy, she believes, represses sexuality, distorts the natural bonds of erotic pleasure and love between men and women and diminishes women's status. Drawing on archaeological evidence and Paleolithic and Neolithic art, Eisler argues that prehistoric societies were relatively free of the domination, exploitation and misogyny that have marked Western societies up to the present. She emphasizes that Christianity's hostility toward sex and, particularly, women's sexuality has conditioned men and women to accept coercion and repression. Discussing abusive child-rearing practices, genital mutilation, natural childbirth, abortion, sex education, the men's movement, AIDS and much else, Eisler outlines a new sexual ethic that aligns pleasure with our capacity to feel and act empathically. Her visionary, passionate scholarship is a revealing psychosexual exploration of love and power relations. $75,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade, LJ 6/15/87) calls for a new sexual revolution, centered on a move toward partnership sexuality and its integration with spirituality and society in order to develop a place where everyone can realize a more satisfying and pleasurable life. She traces the course of sexual relations from prehistory through the present, along the way deflating sexual myths and misconceptions. She also examines the prevalence of sexual violence today and projects a future in which men and women will thrive together in harmony. Principally, however, Eisler examines the history of humanity's deep and powerful yearning for connections within intimate relationships. Recommended for libraries with history and women's studies collections.?Marty D. Evensvold, Magnolia P.L., Tex.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

An engaging and very worthwhile read.
Geoffrey Holland
It's really about getting to know yourself again and loving yourself and others.
Barbara Alexander
Not only does it lay out the problems, but the solutions to them as well.
Shani's Son

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Anastasia Prentiss on September 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Raine Eisler once again breaks new ground as her research and hypotheses continue to boldly challenge the dominant paradigm under which the human family still lives. In this millennia sweeping text from the Paleolithic & Neolithic to the current media frenzy and possibilities for social transformation Eisler's exploration of and frank discussion concerning the myths and politics of "western civilization" is provocative and long overdue. Referencing prolific researchers like, Marija Gimbutas and Ashley Montagu the author paints a stunningly vivid picture of the other histories. The histories that have for to long gone unspoken, been buried, and deliberately hidden in order to maintain status quo. The author's scrupulously accurate examination of the politics of pain and how western culture has come to erotize violence will make any mindful reader rethink their own relationship to and responsibility for private and public tolerance of this dominate mythology and politics. Referencing events through out history Eisler traces the paths western culture has chosen, carefully marking each crossroads with examples, accurate evidence and a reverence for the triumphs of the human spirit even in the most dire of circumstances. The issue and impact of class structure within patriarchal society could have been explored with more depth although Eisler does address material poverty and politics of greed as one of the ploys of current social domination. As in her previous work, Chalice and the Blade and Partnership Way, the writing is accessible and a pleasure to read. Eisler is careful not to place blame, instead highlighting how this social structure has created deep wounds of the spirit to both women and men.Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on December 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
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:

"...
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84 of 107 people found the following review helpful By WitchGrrl on November 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
I looked forward to reading this book for a long time. I am deeply interested in connections between sex and spirituality, and I am also in agreement with Eisler about the problems that patriarchal society has created in both of these areas and especially the place where we try to integrate them.
I was deeply, deeply disappointed by this book. I believe that many of Eisler's theories are correct, but she simply doesn't cite evidence that supports them. The structure of the book seems to work like this:
1) Present theory. (Example - children are frequently abused in patriarchal society.)
2) Give a piece of evidence that might be related. (For the theory given above, Eisler writes that several Victorian doctors wrote in their journals that many children of parents with venereal disease also have venereal disease.)
3) Re-state theory. (Patriarchy is terrible for children!)
The trouble is, frequently the evidence does not say what she claims it says, and even when it does, it's only a tiny piece of a very large puzzle that we can't see. In the example above, for instance - venereal disease is often passed from mother to child during the birth process. Also, lower hygiene standards in the Victorian era means that it was very easy to pass all sorts of diseases. Touch your genitals while passing urine, touch your child's hand, your child touches their genitals and voila! We now have disease transmission. And, even if this piece of evidence had said what Eisler claimed it said, that's two doctors talking about the patients that they saw in their lifetimes - that doesn't allow for the specific demographic of patients they saw, geographical differences, differences over time, or pretty much anything else.
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More About the Author

Riane Eisler is internationally known for her bestseller The Chalice and The Blade, now in 25 foreign editions, as well as Sacred Pleasure, The Power of Partnership, and Tomorrow's Children. Her newest book, The Real Wealth of Nations -- hailed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as "a template for the better world we have been so urgently seeking" and by Gloria Steinem as "revolutionary" - proposes a new approach to economics that gives visibility and value to the most essential human work: the work of caring for people and for our natural environment.

She is president of the Center for Partnership Studies, and keynotes conferences worldwide, with venues including the United Nations General Assembly and invitations by Rita Suessmuth, President of the German Parliament, and by Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic. She has taught at UCLA and now teaches in the online graduate program at CIIS.

Dr. Eisler is a leader for peace, environmental sustainability, economic equity, and human rights - pioneering the extension of human rights protection to "women's rights" and "children's rights." With Nobel Peace laureate Betty Williams, she co-founded the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV. She has received many honors, including honorary Ph.D. degrees, the Alice Paul ERA Education Award, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's 2009 Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, and is featured in the award-winning book Great Peacemakers as one of 20 leaders for world peace, along with Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King.

She can be contacted at center@partnershipway.org.
Her websites are http://www.partnershipway.org, http://caringeconomy.org,
and http://www.rianeeisler.com


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