THE POLITICS OF WOMEN'S SPIRITUALITY: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement by Charlene--Ed. Spretnak

THE POLITICS OF WOMEN'S SPIRITUALITY: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sloppy thinking, shoddy scholarship, and not a little bias make this massive anthology hard to swallow--except for open-mouthed devotees of the Goddess. Spretnak assembles some 50 essays on feminist spirituality, without a single word from a woman priest, rabbi, or minister, much less a nun or lay feminist still working within the infected realm of patriarchal religion. With a few blessed exceptions, the members of Spretnak's chorus are humorless and uncritically partisan, content to bemoan the horrors committed by ""the patriarchy"" without bothering to distinguish or analyze the immense variety of cultures covered by that handy label. Again and again contributors hymn the glories of the matriarchal era, that prehistoric, prelapsarian will-o'-the-wisp (expertly demystified in this volume by anthropologist Sally Binford, but few of her sisters seem to be listening). Writer after writer cries out in anger at the execution of 9,000,000 women for witchcraft during the Middle Ages--a preposterous figure with no real evidence behind it. Unsubstantiated fantasies pile up: the wound in Christ's side is an example of ""male imitative 'menstrual' magic""; lesbianism was ""the normal sexual union in prepatriarchal eras""; Pallas Athena means ""vulva-vulva"" (Judy Chicago please copy), etc. Some of the essays, especially those by Binford, Dorothy Riddle, and the three by Starhawk (who proves once again that witches can be splendidly rational and highly moral), save the collection from total failure. But serious feminism can't be satisfied with raging against ""masculism"" (a much-used term here), nor with yearning for an Eden run by women, nor even with pointing up the structural parallels between sexism and other forms of oppression: it has to understand the past and make realistic plans for changing the present. That kind of seriousness is in unfortunately short supply among Spretnak & Co.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1981
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday