Descent Into The Mother | By Valerie Andrews | Issue 176 | The Sun Magazine

Descent Into The Mother

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Correspondence

Valerie Andrews, in her “Descent into the Mother” [Issue 176], is obviously well-versed (brainwashed) in patriarchal Freudian theory, and its preoccupation with sexual pathology and “mother complexes.” Everything that’s “wrong” with our earth, from addiction to incest, is placed at the feet of what she calls the “negative mother,” with little about the “. . . dangerous concentration of male energy.”

She cites tribal cultural rituals in which the males “drive out” the influence of the mother so that the son can grow “normally.” Certainly parent and child should grow apart, but to blame everything that’s wrong in the world on the “failure” of this separation to occur is bullshit.

Andrews says we need rituals of our own to move away from the mother; I say the patriarchal, Judeo-Christian dominance has stripped us of our abilities to heal ourselves and others. It’s the same old song, Valerie, and it looks like you’ve swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

Dorthy Oury Galveston, Texas
Valerie Andrews responds:

My book, A Passion for This Earth, deals with both the mother and father — those parental figures who have the power to give us a true initiation or to hold us back from life. I describe the many ways our culture has dishonored the feminine and lost its contact with the earth. When I talk about the demanding mother, I am referring to the ways we remain overly dependent on our “mother” institutions — the government, the corporation, and the family — and fail to develop our own relationship with life. I am not blaming “mothers” per se, but warning of our hidden rage and resentment at this dependency. We end by projecting this rage on our mates and on the earth itself.

Of course, we need to break with the devouring father as well. Patriarchy dishonors the realm of feeling and relationship and keeps young women from using their own creativity. The tyrannical father wounds us all — daughters and sons alike — because he wants to control the flow of life. In his obsession for control, he teaches us to fear and hate the natural world.

I don’t blame the men, however, any more than I blame “all mothers” for our current ills. For too long we have been making one sex or the other out to be the villain. We should strive instead for a state in which men and women honor one another and serve as loving stewards of the earth. To attain this kind of partnership, we have to transform our regressive longing for parents. We need a new allegiance to the living world, one in which our relationships assume a different meaning. They no longer exist merely for our own gratification but for the preservation of life.

This is not Freudian theory. It is deep ecology.

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