Let’s start with a nice quote from an interview I read with Gloria Steinem in TIME magazine a few months ago.
“…what I believe, which is that things are a circle, not a hierarchy: the women’s movement and the antiracist movement and the gay movement and the environmental movement are all linked.” –10 Questions, August 15, 2011.
I agree completely with Ms. Steinem. I actually just finished reading an excellent book on pretty much this same topic, Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade. If you have any interest in women’s rights, anthropology, comparative religious studies, environmental philosophy, social sciences, or just history in general, I’d highly advise checking it out. While parts of it are a little dated (it was first published in 1988) and a bit repetitive at times, give it a try if you’re into any of those sorts of things. I’ll try to sum it up and not to bore you with too much anthro-talk.
Basically, way back in the day, a big chunk of Europe and the Near East was following an amazing way of life. While agricultural in livelihood (normally a red flag to me), these various cultures of ‘Old Europe’ were Earth-worshippers, which is to say that their religion was based around reverence for the life-giving and nurturing powers of what I call ‘the Feminine Divine’ (manifested in Mother Earth, Gaia, or the ‘Triple Goddess’ Wiccans are always going on about’, etc), apparently on equal footing with a sacred king. Unfortunately for them (and us), about six thousand years ago who shows up on the scene but the Indo-Europeans. These Caucasian guys come riding their horses into Europe and bring with them their dominating, warlike, male sky-gods (as in the case of Zeus/Jupiter, Babylonian Marduk, and the Abrahamic god), and commence to pretty much wipe out the tree-hugging Old Europeans (I say pretty much because it seems this female-empowering ‘partnership’ model managed to survive until about 1500 BCE on Crete, when that pesky megavolcano on Thera blew up and washed them away, or at least shook them up enough so that the Mycenaean proto-Greeks could come in and finally take over.)
And ever since then, the power has been held by the He-Man Woman-Haters Club. (You could probably get really Freudian with this, and say that the Dominator model of society stems from a bad case of Uterus Envy, or something).
See, when your god is a vengeful, armed-with-thunderbolts, fond-of-smiting, bearded-guy-in-the-sky, your society is going to be all about those sort of things—namely, exerting control and making war on those who are different. I’m not just talking about beating up on your brown neighbors and effeminate men, although that’s always been a popular pastime among Taker peoples; this also encompasses Nature, because if you believe your male god created the world, and your enemies believe their female goddess IS the world, and you’re okay with killing them, well then, you’re probably going to have no qualms about subjugating and controlling the earth either.