The women at this month's
discussion were disappointed with Delores LaChapelle's essay
examining the relationship between human sexuality and
nature. We basically found her work male-identified and
Nonetheless, women responded enthusiastically
to her rejection of a world view which reduces sex to
physicality and/or procreation. We shared her belief that
sexuality is a supreme spiritual force based on an undivided
harmony with nature. One woman suggested that having sex on
the earthon beaches, in forests, in fieldsdirectly
contributes to deep planetary healing.
LaChapelle asserts (as do
many ecofeminists) that prior to the rise of patriarchy
5,000-10,000 years ago, sexuality grounded humanity's belief
systems, was sacred, non-monogamous, and served "as the
major bonding mechanism for human tribes of
Given that homo sapiens have existed
for 300,000 years, a broader conception of human sexuality
must be acknowledged. Several women pointed out that monogamy
is not innate to our species. As LaChapelle observes, 10,000
years is only 400 human generations.
In harking back to
pre-patriarchal eras for insights into a contemporary
woman-empowering ethic, one woman wanted to know how
ecofeminism would reconstruct sexuality today? Are we to
abandon monogamy? Another woman responded that patriarchy
devised monogamy for private property purposes. As a result,
sexuality lost its original role as a oneness with nature and
instead became a weapon against women.
We all agreed that
whenever men rule, women can never be in true control of our
own sexuality and of our reproductive powers. Clearly, sexual
self-determination is a key component of an ecofeminist
vision of sexuality.
This prompted a discussion
of Madonna, her persona providing an opportunity to analyze
the mass collective sexual psyche. Does she embody female
sexual empowerment? Is she really a rebel against the
patriarchy? The women presentbi, straight, and
Lesbianvoiced a unanimous no, calling Madonna's high-tech
sex nothing more than a sophisticated product of postmodern
One woman mentioned that Madonna purportedly
calls her own shots and controls her own sexuality. Other
women were quick to respond that her power is false. It is
problematic, they said, to believe that any and all sexual
power is positive without analyzing the underpinnings or
content of that power. Another woman remarked that within the
context of an advanced Helmsian age, Madonna appears to
challenge Western society's puritanical mores.
countered, however, that in the context of 300,000 years of
female sexuality, Madonna's limitations are unmasked. Her
sexual imagery lacks intimacy, love, sensuousness, spiritual
erotica, sorority, or sharing. One woman said that her stage
act is the culmination of 5,000 years of male-identified
sexuality: project the bimbo look, doll up, be young,
beautiful, cosmeticized, and thin, flaunt cleavage
opportunistically, and commodify sex just like the big boys.
Women felt that these qualities are all disempowering
corruptions of our original earth-based sexuality. Madonna's
iconography situates her comfortably within patriarchy. How
liberating is that?
Several women resented the
fact that Madonna's theatrics replicate 42nd Street
pornography, especially her glamorization of sado-masochism.
One woman claimed pornography is the semiotic language of
patriarchy and that S & M is
dominant/subordinate ideology incarnate.
concurred, stating that dominant/subordinate relations arose
out of patriarchy, and it is precisely this dualistic,
hierarchical world view that begat racism, capitalism,
sexism, and other oppressions. Women concluded that were
Madonna to wholly embrace ecofeminist principles, the powers
that be would severely curtail her forum.
At this point women voiced
their pain about the brutality of phallocentric sexuality.
With its inherently unequal, dominant-subordinate world view,
patriarchy strains the bond between sexuality and intimacy,
be it intimacy with one partner, many partners, or even with
Another woman recalled her teenage years when
she viscerally felt that sex should be open, free, and
communal. Long before reading Wilhelm Reich, she had also intuited the
biophysical necessity of releasing sexual energy. She spoke
of coming of age during the 60's, a time when "sexual
liberation" was tapping into our cellular memory, i.e.,
our primordial sexual connection with nature.
however, that acting upon her beliefs in a male supremacist
society (that can't seem to accept when no means no) resulted
in a painful succession of date rapes. Although sexually
scarred, discovering ecofeminism has reaffirmed her original
vision: sexuality is the spiritual life force of our species.