Articles and Essays

by Genevieve Vaughan

Introduction to the Gift Economy

This web site is offered to you in an attempt to give a new perspective, to shift the paradigm according to which we now interpret the world towards a paradigm which will make social change easier. If you are willing to shift your perspective, read on!

Many people especially in the so-called ‘First World’ live in denial or ignorance of the devastating effects our countries’ and corporations’ policies have on the so-called ‘Third World’. Even when we are conscious of these effects we feel we have no power to change them or to change similar situations within our own countries. We usually feel we do not know why these things are happening, or we attribute them to ‘human nature’, greed, and ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. There is a way to understand what is happening which allows us to address it both on the individual and group level and on the level of national and corporate policy.

Introduction to the Gift Economy

The Maternal Gender

by Genevieve Vaughan (2017)

Hypotheses for a system-changing view

One hypothesis I explore in this paper is that both phylogenetically and ontogenetically, although there have always been at least two sexes, there was/is first one gender that then divides into two (or more). The first is the gender identity of the mother. Then in heterosexual patriarchy when the child is old enough to understand binary categorization, this common identity divides into females (who can potentially become biological mothers) and males (who cannot). In fact, the first identity of all children is formed in nurturing interaction with their motherers but that identity is usually heteronormatively denied for boys by about age three. Then, like their mothers before them, girls are often encouraged to adapt by over valuing and over nurturing those of the ‘non maternal’ gender.

The second hypothesis is that the so called ‘domestic sphere’ is actually based on an alternative economic mode, a gift economy, which provides the free satisfaction of needs, comparable to indigenous gift economies. The domestic gift economy presently co exists with the market economy based on quid pro quo exchange, which plunders gifts.

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Meaning is a Feminist Issue

by Erella Shadmi

Throughout years of activism and scholarship feminism has criticized and deconstructed almost every institution, concept, theory, politics, identity one can think of.

A student of mine asked me the other day: “Feminist theory deconstructs my identity and dismantles my world. What alternative does it offer me?” “Liberation and autonomy,” I replied. “And then what?” she questioned. And she was right: on the whole, feminism has left women with no spiritual attachment, with no alternative, with no meaning.

No wonder that so many women, facing the growing hardships of modern life, turn to religion which offers them community, respect and self-esteem. Others adopt New Age beliefs and rituals. Many make mothering constructed by patriarchal capitalism the center of their lives. Still others view career or shopping as sources of pleasure and sense of worth. These structures and constructs are oppressive and deceiving; yet, women have been tempted to believe in them and they give women hope and some comfort. Women, already informed by feminism, search for new meaning to inspire their lot and guide them towards a different reality, yet are unable to find it within today’s feminism.

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1. Explain what you mean by the ‘Gift Economy’.

A Gift Economy is the material interaction of a community based on the direct provisioning of needs without the mediation of exchange.

I believe that in every life there is an original economic mode that is based on unilateral giving and receiving and that is prior to the interaction of exchange, which is giving in order to receive an equivalent return.

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