Riane Eisler

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Riane Eisler
Riane Eisler.png
Vienna, Austria
Other namesRiane Tennenhaus Eisler
Alma materUniversity of California
Known forThe Chalice and the Blade, The Real Wealth of Nations (2008)
Spouse(s)David Elliot Loye

Riane Tennenhaus Eisler (born 22 July 1931) is an Austrian-born American systems scientist and author who writes about the effect of gender politics historically on society. She is most known for her 1987 book The Chalice and the Blade, in which she coined the terms "partnership" and "dominator."[1][2]


Eisler was born in Vienna in 1931 before her family fled from the Nazis in 1939 to Cuba. She and her parents lived in a slum in Havana for seven years, after which they emigrated to the United States, to Miami, New York, and Chicago before finally settling in Los Angeles.[3] Eisler has degrees in sociology and law from the University of California. She is an attorney, legal scholar and author. She has published thirteen books, including one memoir, The Gate, published in 2000. Her first book, published in 1977, was Dissolution: No-Fault Divorce, Marriage, and the Future of Women. Her second book, published in 1979, was on the Equal Rights Amendment.[4]

In her third book The Chalice and the Blade, published in 1987, she coined the terms "partnership" and "dominator" to describe the two underlying forms of society. Partnership societies are characterized by gender equality, peace, sustainability, caring, while dominator societies are characterized by sexism, chronic war, ecological destruction, and unsustainability. According to her research, which references the work of archaeologists Marija Gimbutas and James Mellaart, among others, for millennia human societies were built on partnership, in which human capacity to give, nurture and sustain life was held in the highest regard, and shared responsibility was the gold standard. The fall into domination occurred around 6,500 years ago.[5][6]

The Chalice and the Blade has sold over 500,000 copies and been translated into around 25 languages.[7]

Eisler has argued that the switch from partnership to dominator has led to gender biased monogamy, prostitution and illegitimacy, women's dependence and the acceptance of chronic war.[8]

She is editor-in-chief of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies at the University of Minnesota.

The Center for Partnership Studies[edit]

In 1987, in partnership with her husband David Elliot Loye, Eisler founded The Center for Partnership Studies, which was later renamed The Center for Partnership Systems. The organization is "dedicated to research, education, and building tools to construct economic and social systems that support human beings and the planet that sustains us."[9]


Philosopher Terence McKenna referenced Eisler's work throughout his writings and talks, including in The Archaic Revival.[10] Eisler's term dominator culture has been used by writers ranging from bell hooks to Tao Lin.

Ashley Montagu called her book The Chalice and the Blade “The most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species." Isabel Allende said of the book: "Some books are like revelations, they open the spirit to unimaginable possibilities."

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • 1977 — Dissolution: No-Fault Divorce, Marriage, and the Future of Women. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 1583480293
  • 1979 — The Equal Rights Handbook: What ERA Means to Your Life, Your Rights, and the Future. Avon. ISBN 1583480250
  • 1987 – The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0062502891
  • 1990 — The Partnership Way: New Tools for Living and Learning, Healing Our Families, and Our World. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 0062502905
  • 1995 – Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 0062502832
  • 2000 — Tomorrow's Children: A Blueprint for Partnership Education in the 21st Century. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBC 0813390400
  • 2000 — The Gate. iUniverse. ISBN 0595001858
  • 2002 — The Power of Partnership: Seven Relationships that Will Change Your Life. New World Library. ISBN 1577311787
  • 2007 — The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economy. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. ISBN 1576753883
  • 2019 — Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Future. with Douglas P. Fry. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0190935723

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Chalice and the Blade". HarperCollins. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  2. ^ "'The Chalice and the Blade'". 1 November 1987 – via NYTimes.com.
  3. ^ Lin, Tao (18 November 2021). "Partnership Before Sexism and War". Tank Magazine. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Authored". rianeeisler.com. Archived from the original on 13 April 2021.
  5. ^ Eisler, Riane (21 September 1988). The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future. ISBN 0062502891.
  6. ^ "You've Met the Fathers of Capitalism and Socialism—Now Meet the Mother of Partnerism". Forbes.
  7. ^ Lin, Tao (18 November 2021). "Partnership Before Sexism and War". Tank Magazine. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  8. ^ Mercati, Stefano (June 2015). "Glossary for Cultural Transformation: The Language of Partnership and Domination". Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies. 1.
  9. ^ "CPS Team". The Center for Partnership Systems. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  10. ^ ""Dominator" vs. "Partnership" Cultures: A Profound Re-Telling of Human History". 14 January 2015.

External links[edit]