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Patriarchy, Abortion and Earth in the Balance

  1. 1. Patriarchy, Abortion and Earth in the Balance
  2. 2. Are there too many of us? Have we exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth?
  3. 3. The answer is: YES the Earth is overpopulated now and it is only going to get worse.
  4. 4. •For all the reasons of privacy and a woman’s control over her own body, the ability to choose abortion should be an essential right. •There is another moral dimension: in the face of an overpopulated world, forcing an unwanted pregnancy harms the planet as well as the woman.
  5. 5. ?
  6. 6. 4 weeks 6 weeks 8 weeks (1.6 cm) 12 weeks •90% of abortions in the U.S. take place in the first trimester •60% of abortions in the U.S. take place within the first 8 weeks when the embryo is 1.6 cm or less in size •30% of abortions take place at 6 weeks or earlier when the embryo is only a few millimeters in size “Medication abortion, which provides women with an additional options early in pregnancy, clearly reinforces this very positive trend.” - Rachel Jones, lead researcher, from: www.guttmacher.org
  7. 7. FOUR WEEK OLD EMBRYO approx. 3 mm
  8. 8. “When women decide to abort, they do so for the sake of principles that are not that different from the ones invoked by the makers of war: freedom, self-determination, issues of dignity as important as one’s own survival… What’s really shocking is that a woman has the power to make a moral judgment that involves a choice of life or death. That power has been reserved for men.” - Ginette Paris
  9. 9. The ancient social system of the hunter-gatherers Woman’s menstrual blood was seen as the source of all life. This sacred energy flowed from the woman to the man. It gave him luck and power in the hunt. Women were trusted to keep the balance between production and reproduction.
  10. 10. “Infanticide during the Paleolithic period could very well have been as high as 50 percent…. An important factor in the short life span of Paleolithic women may very well have been the attempt to induce abortions in order to lengthen the interval between births. Contemporary hunter-collectors in general lack effective chemical or mechanical means of preventing pregnancy…. They do, however, possess a large repertory of… means for inducing abortion.” - Marvin Harris
  11. 11. Keeping the balance between the tribe’s needs and what the earth could provide was woman’s ancient role. How did woman lose the power to keep the balance between births and death? How did she lose the power to control her own body? What happened?
  12. 12. Did ancient global warming trigger the creation of patriarchal societies? The first evidence for widespread human warfare – specialized arrow points thought to be weapons of war – occurs in Europe during the period of rapid ice melt and sea level rise between 15,000 and 7,000 BC. Evidence presented in Plato Prehistorian by archeologist Mary Settegast.
  13. 13. First depictions of war in rock painting art. Previous painting subjects were primarily animals and vulvas.
  14. 14. The migration of displaced populations may have set the stage for the classic conflicts between the Greeks and the Amazons. The Amazons were matrilineal clans. Women held the right to the land, or “sovereignty.”
  15. 15. The Middle Assyrian Law Code, 15th to 11th Century BC “If a woman causes her own abortion and charge and proof have been brought against her, she shall be impaled and shall not be buried.” “It seems inconsistent to permit the exposure of unwanted infants and to visit abortion with the severest penalties… it is the father who has the right to expose, while the mother has no right to deprive him by her own act of his choice of keeping alive or exposing the child.” - Driver and Miles, The Babylonian Laws
  16. 16. Male Choice
  17. 17. Balancing Life and Death: • Women choose contraception and abortion. • Men of the patriarchy choose infanticide and war.
  18. 18. The Ancient Way worshipping the Vulva as the source of all life, including animal life
  19. 19. From worship to property
  20. 20. The Vulva as a potent symbol of power. The Goddess is watching you!
  21. 21. The Vulva remains a powerful symbol.
  22. 22. I saw the Virgin Mary…
  23. 23. The split Goddess: virgin/mother - whore/witch
  24. 24. Goddess of fertility or Goddess of death – both are part of life and the power lies in keeping the balance.
  25. 25. The Dark Side of the Goddess The Celtic Cailleach The Indian Kali
  26. 26. The Thesmophoria – a women’s ritual from classical Greece. Menstruating women gather for a three day festival where they sacrifice piglets to the Snake Goddess.
  27. 27. “The little pigs, they say, were food for the great underground primal deities, the snakes… The women bow before great Snake in wonder. They are inexorably bound to Snake… for Snake is the power in the earth, in the field, and the power in the bodies of women… The women are fond of the pigs with their creamy pink skin soft as a baby’s… - From Uncursing the Dark, by Betty DeShong Meador
  28. 28. “Snake does not need to be reminded of her power. But the women! Ah! They tend to forget. When life is going well in the village and the storehouse is full, the women might say, “How clever we are! How well we provide for our people!’ They might forget that the power of life belongs to Snake.” - From Uncursing the Dark, by Betty DeShong Meador
  29. 29. The frog goddess reminded women that life is a balance between birth and death.
  30. 30. Myth is constructed of layers. The birthing or aborting woman squats like a frog. Her embryo looks like a tadpole. The two aspects are merged into one Frog Goddess. Hequat, the Egyptian Frog Goddess tadpole 19th century German frog charm with human face
  31. 31. In Many Cultures Angels and Spirits Represent Fetuses or Embryos •A survey of 400 ancient cultures found evidence that nearly every one practiced abortion. •Without effective contraceptives, women who did not have the food and other resources to give to an additional child often had no other choice but abortion. •Aborted fetuses were seen as messengers to the gods and many cultures have venerated the still born, the miscarriage and the abortion as angel, fairy or water spirit. •Cherubs, Polynesian Tiki gods and the Jizo dolls of Buddhist Japan are examples.
  32. 32. Olmec Corn Fetus sculptures Diagram illustrating changing proportions of the body during the fetal period. After Keith Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human, 1998, Figure 6-3. “Most Olmec stone figurines represent humans in a state of physical or spiritual transformation… the fetus parallels the life cycle of maize, the quintessential Mesoamerican symbol of the miracle of life. Both undergo dramatic transformation, the fetus apparently from "lower“ to "higher" animal and the maize from seed to gloriously upright fruiting plant to seed again.” - Carolyn Tate, Ph.D. and Gordon Bendersky, M.D. “Olmec Sculptures of the Human Fetus”
  33. 33. Maori Heitiki – represents the power of the clan lineage. Worn by clan mothers.
  34. 34. Tiki God Nanaue – Hawaiian shark god Hawaiian legend tells of a woman who went into the surf and was impregnated by a shark god. She gave birth to Nanaue, a shark boy who began to devour her people. Subsequently, when a woman needed to abort, she said it was to give a shark baby back to its father. Many Polynesian fishing gods had fetal aspects
  35. 35. Mizuko Jizo “Children of the water” at a Buddhist shrine in Japan
  36. 36. Water Babies from early 20th cent. children’s literature
  37. 37. Europe’s Angel-makers Wet nurses and foundling hospitals killed millions of infants from the middle ages until the 19th century. For example, in 1640, 22% of all children baptized in Florence were abandoned children. Most did not survive the foundling hospitals.
  38. 38. Original sin. Eve is tempted by the Serpent. The witch persecutions - How many thousands of midwives and healers were killed? Note the toads….
  39. 39. We need to stop sacrificing women! Can’t we re-create a culture that trusts women again to keep the balance between production and reproduction – between life and death?
  40. 40. www.earthislandangels.com
  41. 41. Choice or Chance card game
  42. 42. The Lysistrata Strategy – “The Lysistratan strategy of withholding sex could have worked to stop the long term cause of war in Greece, if only the women had held out long enough to cut off the flow of new infants and reduce population pressure on the crowded and ecologically depleted peninsula.”
  43. 43. Baubo – goddess of the belly laugh!
  44. 44. Amaterasu Omikami, the Sun Goddess along with her two brothers, Susanowa (Storm God) and Tsuki-yomi (Moon God), governed the universe. One fateful day, Susanowa, who was jealous of Amaterasu's power as the deity illuminating the world, went on a rampage, wreaking havoc in her sacred domain. Amaterasu fell into a deep depression and in her grief exiled herself to a rock cave. The other gods and goddesses, no matter how much they tried, could not draw her from the dark recesses of her dwelling. The earth was covered in darkness and crops began to wither and die without her sunlight.
  45. 45. In desperation, they called upon Ame-noUzume, in hope that her healing powers of laughter would entice Amaterasu from the darkness. Uzume entered the cave dressed in long robes which she promptly tied up above her waist. She turned over a large tub, stood upon it and began a bawdy dance. Making light-hearted fun of shamanistic rituals, she bared her breasts, exposed her genitals and danced wildly while drumming the tub with her feet. (According to legend, this is the origin of Taiko drumming.) The other gods and goddesses laughed loudly at her antics and joined in with her boisterous singing and ecstatic dancing. Amaterasu, curious about all the noise, came peering out of her hiding place. Seeing the others laughing, she abandoned her grief and emerged from the cave to once again bestow light on the world.
  46. 46. The suppressed Vulva… This ad was rejected by a Seattle newspaper as “inappropriate for a family audience.”
  47. 47. This ad was published in TIME Magazine. Would TIME have published the other one?
  48. 48. The solution: Give women the choice and they will find the balance.

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