Review: In Search of Pure Lust, author Lise Weil by Sara Wright


In this remarkable memoir one woman’s life is set in the collective context of the women’s movement as a whole, and through Lise Weil’s eyes we get to see the “both and” quality of her struggle to understand the wound caused by what went wrong not only in her personal relationships with women, but between the powerful women who inspired the women’s movement in the first place. We can only heal this wound personally and collectively if we are willing to self-reflect, ask difficult and painful questions, and take responsibility for our actions, something that the author is willing to do. By addressing our own mother-daughter and woman to woman betrayals, choosing to respect one another’s differences regardless of sexual orientation, color, race, religion etc. we can finally unite with one purpose – to save ourselves and the planet.

What Lise proposes – namely, that Lesbian Visionary Thinking opened the door to women re–imagining women as powerful agents in their own lives even as they became women who acted upon these visions – is, I believe, truth. Lesbian visionaries envisaged a woman centered culture and created one. Many of us realize today that without a feminist standpoint, the ravages of patriarchy are going to destroy us all.  We have much to learn from reading this story.

I should probably mention that I am not a lesbian. I am, however, a woman who loves other women – a woman who has struggled with the same questions about relationship and betrayal throughout her life and one who believes that every woman needs to read this book because if we are going to shift this deadly patriarchal paradigm into a “egalitarian matriarchal” one (as Carol Christ defines it) women must lead the way. And to do that we have to begin to heal what is broken in ourselves.

The publication of this book is also uncannily timely because we are at such a critical crossroad. Women from all walks of life are waking up to the fact that during the last election 52 percent of American women voted for a power–driven, mentally ill, misogynist.

We must interrupt this cycle of women choosing crazy, abusive men over compassionate, politically astute women who could be in the position to change the world.

Lise’s personal story is a compelling one. Ruthlessly honest, she struggles with a complex web of personal relationships set in the context of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. This book helps others like me who came to feminism late – as a middle aged woman – experience what it must have been like to have women’s reading circles, bookstores, places where women gathered with joyful abandon to share ideas and re –imagine the world. The depth and breadth of Lise’s honesty leaves the reader without doubts about this woman’s personal integrity. The book is also a page – turner. I finished this deeply moving memoir that ended on a positive note feeling bereft – I didn’t want it to end.

In closing, I think every woman can find parts of herself In Search of Pure Lust because Lise’s story is some ways Everywoman’s Story.

 

Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Northern New Mexico.

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Categories: Feminism, Women's Voices

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14 replies

  1. Sarah those were indeed exciting times, I was part of it, and like you I was attracted to lesbian feminist spiritual visions. I know the word limit on FAR is tight, but I would love to hear more about the book, what were the struggles she details and how does she view the future? Maybe a follow up review?

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    • Hmm, I was just thinking about the comment made at the beginning of a documentary on the Mosuo that the Mosuo women understood that a man following his dick is not a good way to organize a family. Perhaps the same could be said about a woman following her desire. The erotic is power-full, but maybe it should not be placed at the center of everything. This is why the Mosuo place mothers not lovers at the center. I wish I knew the answer to that question.

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    • Carol, perhaps I can arrange to do that when I go back and re -read the book.

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  2. I heard Mary Daly speak and read PURE LUST when I was in graduate school. That, along with Susan Griffin’s WOMAN AND NATURE released enormous energies within me and changed my life–for the better! Thanks for bringing this new book to our attention.

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    • Those two books changed my life too. WOMAN AND NATURE also validated that my visceral attachment to Nature and the connection I had made between what was happening to women was also happening in Nature was REAL.

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  3. We’ve had so many visionaries and there have been so many books. Daly’s books, Griffin’s, and how about Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics? And all the brand-new women’s studies in the universities during the 60s and 70s? How do we pull all that activity forward today when we need it, perhaps, more than we did then? How else will we survive the Abuser-in-Chief who occupies the Oval Office?

    Sara, thanks for the excellent review. Yes, please write more about this book!

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  4. Thanks for the introduction to this must read book!

    I believe the 52% statistic refers to white women specifically. 54% women as a whole voted for Clinton. Here’s an article that breaks it down: https://qz.com/833003/election-2016-all-women-voted-overwhelmingly-for-clinton-except-the-white-ones/

    Still appalling that any woman voted for him. Let’s change these statistics in 2020!

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  5. The thing I love about this book is that it helps us to locate ourselves in the lesbian visionary process through one woman’s eyes. We need that visioning more today than ever before.

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  6. Thanks for the introduction to this must-read book!

    (note: I just posted this comment with a link to the below statistics, because of the link it did not post yet. Below is the gist without the link)

    I believe the 52% statistic refers to white women specifically. 54% women as a whole voted for Clinton.Still appalling that any woman voted for him. Let’s change these statistics in 2020!

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  7. Please do a follow-up post, Sara. And thank you for this introduction.
    I also think the Mosuo women have a lot of wisdom! Thanks Carol. I find so often that things I intuit or visualize find the words I’m looking for here, at FAR.

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