Friday, September 2, 2022

First Word: Mary Judith Ress: Quiver


Was it just a legend? The mighty Amazon women of yore? It was said that they rode their horses bare-breasted—with one breast cut off so their quiver of arrows could be snapped tight across their chest and all the better to aim their arrows at their prey.  Poison arrows, some say, made from secret herbs.  The Amazon women lived apart on the wind-swept steppes of Asia where they were feared for their hatred of men.  They did mate, of course, but if they bore a male child, they either killed him or gave him away.  

Feminists have long debunked the existence of the Amazon women as a patriarchal rag to frighten little boys—and big ones too. Why would women want to live apart from the rest of the world in an all-female, self-sufficient—albeit austere—community where men were not only not allowed, but the male seed banished? The question I ponder is this: what happened to these women that made them take such a drastic decision? Is this a deep yearning in the heart of the female psyche to escape male bondage and live apart as a tribe of sisters? This urge is present in some segments of the radical feminist movement.  Lesbian communes pop up—then die out because we do long for brothers, husbands, lovers, sons. 

But as the planet takes a deep dive into what is being described as the Sixth Great Extinction, how will we, as a species, shift? What kind of survival communities will emerge? Exclusive communes with strict rules and leadership akin to the Colonia Dignidad? Eco-villages where folks have their own space, but live and work in common? Women’s collectives like the Beguines in Hildegard´s time? Buddhist or monastic communities like Thich Nhat Hanh´s Plum Village? Perhaps here in Chile we can learn from the Mapuche, recognizing that we are che-people—of mapu—Earth, and like them, become her keepers.

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