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January 25-31, 2006

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The Byrne Report

Killer Regeneratrix

By Peter Byrne

At the risk of offending some readers, it won't bother me when Congress confirms Samuel Alito as a top judge. Furthermore, I hope that the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Then, maybe, millions of slumbering feminists will wake up and overthrow the whole damn patriarchy instead of wasting time sending money to NARAL.

Whatever happened to real feminism? That all women should receive free abortion on demand is axiomatic. But in the United States, the liberation of women has been grotesquely reduced to whether or not Roe v. Wade is the "law of the land." The idiotically named "pro-life" and "pro-choice" propaganda machines are spewing out trillions of bits of hysterical nonsense that distract the populace from examining a much more fundamental gender issue: Why are untold millions of women and children sweating buckets in maquiladoras and economy-raping "free trade zones" from Mexico to Sri Lanka to Shanghai? The answer? So that Nordstrom shoppers can have a choice of styles.

Western-style feminism started in the 19th century with the Suffragette movement, the leaders of which infamously put the voting rights of white women ahead of the civil rights and reproductive rights of nonwhite Americans. In the 1960s and 1970s, masses of radical women took to the streets demanding equal rights and equal pay. Leading feminists such as Germaine Greer, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Andrea Dworkin and Rosa Parks realized that no woman can be truly free until all women are free from patriarchal and class oppression.

The revivified feminist movement, unfortunately, was quickly co-opted by the likes of Calvin Klein, Betty Freidan and Hillary Clinton. Today, gender liberation is equated by trend setters to anorexia and sexual submission or to hooking up with the military.

But it is not just the gender liberation struggle that has been appropriated by the corporate patriarchy. Our gender archetypes are being tinkered with, too. For example, you won't find very many (if any) high school or college courses based on the archeological research of Marija Gimbutas, a recognized expert in Neolithic cultures. Gimbutas skewered what was held as a truism in her field--that humans have always been greedy and warlike. She proved that from about 7,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C., humans in Europe and elsewhere established agrarian, goddess-acknowledging societies in which intrahuman violence was practically unknown. After horse-riding armies of pastoral nomads invaded Europe from Asia, the matricentric, nature-venerating, peace-loving world was obliterated by a ruthlessly acquisitive patriarchy.

Gimbutas, who died in 1994, taught archeology at UCLA. In her seminal work, The Language of the Goddess, she painstakingly reconstructs the ancient, pre-Greco-Roman world by correlating tens of thousands of pottery fragments, and thereby revealing the existence of communal societies in which males and females were social equals. Another world is not only possible, it already was!

Two years ago, Donna Read, Olympia Dukakis and Starhawk made a gorgeous film about Gimbutas' life and work called Signs Out of Time. In it, the filmmakers describe how the archeologist was ostracized by her academic peers for showing that Neolithic figurines--long thought to be simple fertility symbols--represented a complex goddess: giver of all life, wielder of all death, source of modern archetypes. Neolithic people focused on the moisture of the earth and the cycles of the moon for religio-scientific inspiration. Their pacific cultures were guided by images of creation and regeneration--not by our commercialized symbols, which venerate profit, rape and violence.

Gimbutas wrote, "[The] sacred images and symbols were never totally uprooted; these most persistent features in human history were too deeply implanted in the psyche. They could have disappeared only with the total extermination of the female population. The Goddess' religion went underground."

Patriarchal Christianity transformed the ancient images. Gimbutas wrote about the symbolic evolution of "the White Lady, 'Death,' who is also a bird of prey and . . . a tall slim woman dressed in white. [She is] the Killer-Regeneratrix, the overseer of cyclic life energy, the personification of winter and Mother of the Dead, [who] was turned into a witch of night and magic . . . a disciple of Satan."

Gimbutas' Regeneratrix appears in The Chronicles of Narnia as a tall, slim, white queen of winter, the personification of sex and evil power. In this upside-down allegory, the matriarchal White Witch is attacked and eaten by patriarchy, symbolized by the wrathful lion, Azlan.

One day, hopefully, the Regeneratrix will, in reality, arise from within our collective unconsciousness and free us from the rule of all men--not just Judge Alito.

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