Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Mermaid and the Minotaur

Reading Dorothy Dinnerstein's now almost 40 year old book The Mermaid and the Minotaur.  It is not an easy book to read because it make you so uncomfortable.  It opens up old wounds.  Dinnerstein was a tough minded woman.  You could say that this is a feminist book, but it isn't really; it is a humanist book, a book that goes to the root questions of how we, the human species, might be able to shape a way of living on this earth that is sound; that will last; that will not destroy the sources of life and health; that is not fatally flawed.  And gender issues are at the core of those questions, at the core of how we organize our way of being as humans. Dinnerstein's argument goes something like this: exclusively female early childcare perpetuates a cultural pathology that has driven men to construct history and to build a machine civilization so as to accumulate money and status (with which men seek to please the women/mothers who they worship/hate as the source of life) and forces women into the bitch/goddess/sexual object role that leads into another round of exclusively female childcare by frustrated women leading to another round of hungry, angry men.  As crappy a deal as it is, women have enabled and consented to it; we've allowed it to happen. By allowing ourselves to be the sole provider of early childcare, by agreeing to it, we maintain the imbalance in human psychology that perpetuates the destructive elements in our civilization.   Has there been some change in gender roles in the last 40 years?  Perhaps. But that progress has been, if anything, linear, whereas the engine of civilization is burning exponentially hotter.  As the pathologies of our global civilization become ever harder to ignore, Dinnerstein's book is ever more relevant.

No comments: