“I also want to give you a typological gift. I believe that solving problems is a kind of gift-giving. The typological problem I want to solve is the one having to do with gender inclusiveness that is addressed in English at present by adding a slash to the gender pronouns he and she, as in s/he. I believe this is a disturbing slash, perhaps phallic and even violent. Including it in the feminine pronoun seems to include these masculine characteristics in the female. Instead, I propose using ‘: ‘ as a sign of nipples which both women and men have, but which directly recall the mother, as in s:he. With this I hope to show that both women and men can follow the maternal model, the model of the gift economy.” (p. 40)
Genevieve Vaughan has published her third book regarding the reality and transformative potential of the gift economy, a logic and matrix of practices that imply the liberation of all genders. The new theory provides solutions to the most urgent need in neoliberal capitalist societies: to overturn the civilizational crises that capitalism and patriarchy have caused with the distortion and appropriation of the Gift. The Gift in the Heart of Language provides sobering and mind-altering perspectives on the gift economy in all of its manifestations. The Gift has mostly been discussed in sociology and anthropology, and in relation to Indigenous people. Vaughan’s contribution is to have made its presence visible in many other fields, where it is taken for granted but where it, in fact, represents the pillar holding societies together. Where French feminism has invented bisexual or feminine writing, Vaughan shows that language, itself, is maternal at its root, not part of the Symbolic, or a symptom of the Law of the Father (Lacan). She shows that the Gift is a more typical matrix of values and worldview among women, but not exclusively so. References to societies still engaged in ecosocially sustainable gift practices serve to explode the taken-for-granted views claiming that patriarchy and exchange have been universal and without alternative.
The subject matter of this book – at the intersection between feminism and linguistics, economics, semiotics, and sociology – is a fundamental part of our humanity that we have not seen before, or named as such. Not that people have not studied what they call ‘gift exchange’, but they have not given it that fundamental interdisciplinary place that should occupy. Indeed many have believed that unilateral gift giving does not exist. I consider it both fundamental and commonplace.
The gift has been obscured for many reasons, which we will be discussing. It is strange that anything this important could have been invisible, but perhaps this also gives a measure of the importance of revealing it, not only for academic investigation but for politics. Why are we motivated to harm and egocentrism and why is our compassion dwindling? The answer may be found in the struggle between the parasite and the host, the exchange paradigm and the gift paradigm.
Another way of saying this is that gift giving has been deprived of its meta level. That is why we do not name this important aspect of life. Unilateral gift giving is not the same as unconditional love or gift giving. There are conditions – such as the identification of a need. The other person should not be hostile – in fact the hostility may mean that there is a need – for independence perhaps? – that is greater, and is not being seen by the prospective giver.
The identification of needs and agency for their satisfaction creates meaning, in language and life.
Drawing on Maternal Gift Economy theory, the suppressed wisdom of women, and the traditions and ethics of Indigenous societies, this integrated programme of presentations sponsored by the International Feminists for a Gift Economy Network will offer new insights, perspectives, and challenges to the underlying market-based mentality of the dominant world order.
In this time of crisis and systemic upheaval, the model of the Maternal Gift Economy on which our survival depends at the beginning of life, is being revealed and celebrated. The interdependence of all living beings can now be made visible and honored.
Mother Earth provides the model of an economy based on gifting that we receive as young children from our nurturers—before we are alienated into market exchange. We must make the transition from the exploitive Euro-American patriarchal/dominating and capitalistic ideology to a gift-based economy and culture grounded in the values of nurturing and care rather than competition and greed.
We invite you to join us in exploring the possibilities in this series of presentations and dialogues that bring together those who have been laboring to articulate the principles of the Maternal Gift Economy, protect Indigenous values, and practice peaceful and just community building. The time is now for all humans to cooperate rather than compete. Please join us!
International best-selling author, speaker, and engaged citizen, David Korten, is a living embodiment of curiosity, compassion and courage, whose wisdom comes from many years of exploration and experience. In early adulthood David devoted his career to ending poverty. Later after holding a faculty position at Harvard he made a permanent break with academia which he… Read More
Reproduced from: http://www.gift-economy.com/articlesAndEssays/maternalgifteconomy.html Statement on the Gift Economy 2010 Published by International Museum of Women COMMUNITY VOICE: The Maternal Gift Economy An Alternative Economic Model Genevieve Vaughan Our current economic system is based on exchange, most frequently the exchange of money for goods or services. Author and researcher Genevieve Vaughan says that this model is… Read More