The Power of Partnership: Riane Eisler’s Gifts to the World Are Needed Now More Than Ever

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Recently I had the great good fortune to interview my long-time friend and colleague Dr. Riane Eisler. We covered a wide range of topics about the power of partnership both in our personal and professional lives and the work that her Center for Partnership Systems has been doing over the years. 

Today I want to tell you about the new Power of Partnership (POP) podcast series that just launched on June 27, 2023 where Dr. Eisler described her partnership-domination scale and four cornerstones to transform how we think of our past, present, and the possibilities for our future.

The POP Podcast highlights ways people are helping build a world that values caring, nature, and shared prosperity by applying the Partnership ethos, Dr. Riane Eisler’s ground-breaking alternative to the Domination Systems which are at the root of our  most pressing challenges. 

My colleagues Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly-Hunt will be featured on the podcast on July 11, 2023 sharing their work on “Safe Conversations: From Conflict to  Connection.” I am scheduled to be on the podcast on August 8, 2023. My topic is “Healing Men and Leaving Behind Male Violence.”

The Center for Partnership Systems was started in 1987 by Riane Eisler and David Loye as a response to her groundbreaking book, The Chalice and the Blade, which had just been published. In The Chalice and the Blade, Dr. Eisler describes her research of re-examining human history from a gender-holistic perspective and the Cultural Transformation theory she developed that is based on her findings. 

In the Chalice, Dr. Eisler writes that this theory proposes that underlying the great diversity of human culture are two basic models of society.

“The first, which I call the dominator model, is what is popularly termed either patriarchy or matriarchy–the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The second, in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of linking rather than ranking, may best be described as the partnership model. In this model-beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female–diversity is not equated with either inferiority or superiority.” 

The mission of the Center is to catalyze movement towards Partnership in all aspects of our lives and at all levels of society through research, education, grassroots empowerment, policy initiatives, and resources. 

I met Riane shortly after the publication of The Chalice & the Blade in 1987. My first book, Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man, was published in 1983 and we met in San Francisco to talk about her work and mine. At a time when many women, including a number of feminist scholars, were viewing men and patriarchy as the cause of our problems, Riane’s scholarship and experience offered a much different narrative; one that recognized the importance of men’s and women’s issues as being core aspects of the partnership-domination dynamic. 

Riane’s support of men was courageous and transformative. Her words, which I still quote often, are even more important now:

“For millennia men have fought wars and the Blade has been a male symbol. But this does not mean men are inevitably violent and warlike…The underlying problem is not men as a sex. The root of the problem lies in a social system in which the power of the Blade is idealized–in which both men and women are taught to equate true masculinity with violence and dominance and to see men who do not conform to this ideal as ‘too soft’ or ‘effeminate.’” (Chalice and the Blade, p. xviii.)

Riane has continued to expand and refine these basic tenets through her subsequent research and writing culminating with her book with Douglas P. Fry, Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future. I have also deepened these ideas through my own research and sixteen books since Inside Out, culminating with my most recent book to be released later this year, Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity.

No one must remind us that we are living in challenging times. In Nurturing Our Humanity, Riane and Douglas describe humanities dream for a better world and the realities we are facing today:

“For millennia, humans have imagined a peaceful and just world. Sometimes we only imagined this world in an afterlife. But over the last centuries, many of us have imagined it right here on Earth. Not a utopia, not a perfect world. But a world where peace is more than just an interval between wars, where dire poverty, brutal oppression, insensitivity, cruelty, and despair are no longer ‘just the way things are.’

“Now there is a new urgency to our wish for a more human world. Every day we are bombarded by news of barbaric human rights abuses, terrorist attacks, proliferation of nuclear weapons, and a drift back to strongman rule. The destruction of our natural environment continues at an accelerating pace, endangering our global life-support systems. New technologies, from artificial intelligence to biological engineering, could have catastrophic results if guided by cultural values of greed, megalomania, and disregard for human rights.”

These may be the truest words I’ve ever spoken. “Riane Eisler’s gifts to the world are needed now more than ever.”

You can listen to POP podcast episodes wherever you get your podcasts, or to see a full library of episodes and links, go to the Center for Partnership Systems at https://centerforpartnership.org/the-power-of-partnership-podcast/

To learn about the POP podcasts and speakers go to Center for Partnership System at https://centerforpartnership.org/the-power-of-partnership-podcast/

Visit the Center for Partnership Systems at https://centerforpartnership.org/.

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