2- Deconstructing Necrophilia

Chapter 2 – Deconstructing Necrophilia in the Dominant Western Paradigm

Understanding how the dominant Western paradigm valorizes death and dominance is critical to the work of reconstructing a life-affirming paradigm based of natality.  This chapter deconstructs eight necrophilic aspects of Western culture that pervert power over women, nature and colonized others.

Necrophilia is a word with many layers of meaning.  Necrophilia (n. from Greek nekro meaning corpse; -philia meaning love) means morbid and erotic attraction to death or corpses (Barber). Necrophilia implies sexual assault on an inert female body, illustrated by the classical narrative of the battle of Troy in which Achilles kills Penthesilea, queen of the Amazon warriors, and then violently rapes her corpse.  Mary Daly defines necrophilia, “not in theight_swordse sense of love for actual corpses, but of love for those victimized into a state of living death” (Daly, Websters, p.59).  Following Grace M. Jantzen, I interpret necrophilia as obsession with death, where obsession means a state of disordered thinking in which death is confused as love – the perversion of eros and thanatos – a perversion that robs death of dignity (Jantzen, p.135).

The use of the date-rape drug is necrophilic in that it not only silences the victim and robs sexuality of dignity by erasing the opportunity for consent and participation; it also erases memory and thus interferes with justice that calls for resistance and outrage.

We deconstruct necrophilia in Western culture by exposing how it valorizes death and perverts the dignity of life.  The following pages provide an overview of eight ways in which death is valorized and perverted in the dominant Western paradigm.

  1. Death of nature
  2. Matricide
  3. Domination
  4. Death of God and the loss of cosmology
  5. Silencing the Other
  6. Monoculture
  7. Capitalism is Choking democracy
  8. Passive Citizenry

The necrophilic Western paradigm is experiencing massive systems failure as it faces self-inflicted death by anthropogenic climate change.  The urgent need to deconstruct the dominant necrophilic paradigm is not driven by reformist ideology, but by revolutionary change that seeks radically different ways to think and be in eco-social communities committed to the vitality and regeneration of the ecosphere – our planetary home.

By deconstructing necrophilia, we begin to clear a space to imagine a different paradigm of natality and to move forward to the space in-between the two paradigms.

The full article on Deconstructing Necrophilia is published in Canadian Woman Studies Journal (CWS/cf) Vol.31, #1 & 2 – a special issue on Women and Environmental Justice.

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