Women’s eNews Commentary
July 30, 2006
By Leslie Botha
Based on the tone of the male-centric rhetoric concerning the movie “The Da Vinci Code”, one must wonder why its success is perceived as a grave threat. KaraAlaimo’s Women’s eNews article, Da Vinci Code Lifts Lid on Goddess Scholarship, reveals why the movie has caused so much controversy.
“Miles and other authors argue that these female figures suggest that ancient societies–which did not understand the reproductive process and were often matrilineal because of the uncertainty of fatherhood–worshiped a goddess because they were in awe of the life-giving power of women. Popular devotion to a single, male god, they say, is relatively recent.”
As Rosalind Miles, states in her book, The Women’s History of the World,
“For woman, with her inexplicable moon rhythms and power of creating new life, was the most sacred mystery of the tribe.So miraculous, so powerful, she had to be more than man, more than human.As primitive man began to think symbolically, there was only one explanation.Woman was the primary symbol, the greatest entity of all, a Goddess.
Where Has All Our Power Gone?
Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English in their book Witches, Midwives and Nurses” assert that, “The witch hunts left a lasting effect:An aspect of the female has ever since been associated with the witch, and an aura of contamination has remained – especially around midwives and other women healers.This early and devastating exclusion of women from independent healing roles was a violent precedent and a warning:It was to become a theme of our history.The women’s health movement of today has ancient roots in the medieval covens, and its opponents have as their ancestors those who ruthlessly forced the elimination of witches.”
Margaret, author of The DNA of Healing, states, “Our ancestral stories, hidden deep in the memory of our DNA, influence us in ways we are not even aware.”What DNA imprint was encoded by the witch burnings?Surviving culturally authorized genocide meant denying the power of the feminine — the knowledge, wisdom and status that comes from living with natural cycles.
Living with Cycles Is the Holy Grail
According to Miles, women noted the relationship between their hormone cycles and the lunar cycles.As early as 25,000 to 20,000 B.C.E they used antler bones to mark the different days of the lunar cycle. These women were the first mathematicians and agriculturalists. They understood the ebb and flow of life energy; women became the venerated healers, the midwives and prophets.
What happened to these ancient women?Why are contemporary women not taught about their contributions? Honoring the menstrual cycle was an integral part of “Goddess worship.” Matriarchy was founded on the life-giving power of blood and the wisdom manifested in honoring natural cycles.Patriarchal power lies in control, manipulation and destruction.
Not only do women have the “burning times” embedded in their cellular memory, their fear is re-enforced by the patriarchies’ negative message about “the Curse.” Is it any wonder women have become disconnected from their menstrual cycle?
The Medicalization of Women’s Bodies
In our soon to be released book, Holy Hormones Honey, The Greatest Story Never Told!, co-author Sandi Batik wrote, “Since the burning times, the Patriarchy has demanded and received dominion over women’s’ bodies. Though the centuries, women who survived, adapted to become the idealized Metamorph — a custom creation to appease the alpha males of her environment. We became the submissive daughter, the deferential wife, and the self-sacrificed mother. From inception, to this very day, male-dominated, western medicine has treated the feminine body as the last legal chattel — an object of emanate domain.”
Dr.SusanRako, author of No More Periods? The Blessings of the Curse, was the first to raise the alarm when she stated: “Manipulating women’s hormonal chemistry for the purpose of menstrual suppression threatens to be the largest uncontrolled experiment in the history of medical science.”
The Canadian Women’s Health Network maintains that “women’s hormone cycles are natural and they are not to be perceived or viewed as an “ailment” or a “disease”.They assert that women’s bodies have become “medicalized.”
GermaineGreer makes a poignant statement in her book titled, The Whole Woman,”A woman’s body is the battlefield where she fights for liberation. It is through her body that oppression works, reifying her, sexualizing her, victimizing her, disabling her.”
To Suppress or Not To Suppress
That is the Billion-dollar question and great debate of our times.Forty years ago I lauded the introduction of the birth control pill. Today, I stand with a growing number of academicians, researchers, educators, and activists who are concerned about extending oral contraceptive use to do away with normal menstruation.
Leslie Miller, an associate professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Washington stated, “100 years ago, the average woman had fewer than 150 periods during her life. Now, the modern woman could have 450 lifetime periods and can spend half of her life with monthly periods.”
What Dr.Miller neglects to acknowledge is that women died at a much earlier age, exhausted by bearing and raising so many children. Today, young girls are starting menstruation at an earlier age, have a longer life expectancy, and would certainly experience more menstrual cycles.Miller’s is a weak argument for the suppression of the menstrual cycle.
Menstrual Suppression May be Appropriate for Some Women
The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research has expressed concerned about the artificial elimination of the menstrual cycle and issued a press release after their15th Biennial Conference in Pittsburgh in June, 2003, emphasizing: “While we recognize that menstrual suppression may be a useful option for women with severe menstrual cycle problems such as endometriosis, we do not believe that continuous oral contraceptive use should be prescribed to all menstruating women out of a rejection of a normal, healthy menstrual cycle.”
If women were given accurate information about their hormonal changes and the tools to understand those changes, many of the problems women experience would be less severe, or could be prevented.
Hormone Cycles are the Foundation of our Being
The menstrual cycle is the foundation of women’s being.To suppress this cycle, is to suppress our fundamental nature.DanBrown’s depiction of the Magdalene as the Holy Grail may be fiction; but the archetype of the Goddess Magdalene represents is the “Greatest Story Never Told”. To the religious and political hierarchy, awakening the feminine is an uncomfortable prospect. Women are weary of suppression in all its forms.It is time to reclaim our power – if not for ourselves, for the sake of our daughters and for humankind.