Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body

Riane Tennenhaus Eisler, Author
Riane Tennenhaus Eisler, Author HarperOne $25 (495p) ISBN 978-0-06-250293-3
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Paperback - 495 pages - 978-0-06-250283-4
Hardcover - 508 pages - 978-1-84333-240-4
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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. (June)
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