Alice Walker Says Matriarchy Would End War

Marisa Demarco
3 min read
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I found myself in an audience of a couple hundred last night at the Kiva to listen to Alice Walker read us her children’s books ( There is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me , and Why War is Never a Good Idea ) and talk war. She said a lot of the things she said in the interview I did with her last week. She also spoke about patriarchy as the cause of war. Many theories suggest that much of the world was matriarchal about 6,000 years ago.

She said when men in starving villages are given aid moneys, they spend it on booze and smokes. When women are given the same money, they spend it on housing and clothes and food. I’m not sure I’m buying any of it, but I guess I’m down to do more research and find out what evidence suggests any of those things.

I’m not so convinced that matriarchy would end war, or that women naturally shoulder any kind of nurturing, healing instincts. Power is power no matter who’s hands it’s in. And I’ve known some crazy, destructive women.

Of course, we’re all operating inside a pretty solid patriarchy, so it all seems like pleasant conjecture at this point. Who can tell?

I like Alice Walker, her calm speaking voice, her strength and her humor. I love her books. Some of her ideas struck me as a little kooky and not very well supported. There I was, surrounded by the city’s liberals and activists at the Convention Center. I can only imagine how she strikes your average Jane.

That’s the nature of political conversations, political theorists, political bloggers and political columnists, right? You say whatever you want, briefly and beautifully, you cite nothing specific to back it up, and people applaud—or write angry letters. As long as it’s interesting, high-drama stuff, your audience is on board.

Alice Walker also says the Earth might have to kick humans off itself eventually in self-defense.

And she’s supporting Obama for president.

She told a charming story about when she attended Sarah Lawrence College and Langston Hughes took an interest in her work. Can you imagine? In your 20s and Hughes thinks you’re pretty good? She said it would have been amazing–if she had known who he was. Hughes invited Walker to his house and asked her which of his books she liked best. She had to admit she hadn’t ready any. So he gave her all of them. That’s a good story.

She said something about putting a man on the moon when we could have used all that brainpower here on Earth, calling it “patriarchal excess.” I guess. But I kind of liked that a man went to the moon. It would probably be nice if we could get the whole electric car/no more starving children thing out of the way, too. Maybe instead of worrying about that space pen.

What do I know? I’m just a girl in a patriarchy. Hell, that sounds like good song fodder if anyone’s interested.

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