The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why An Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future

The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why An Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future

by Cynthia Eller
     
 

ISBN-10: 0807067938

ISBN-13: 9780807067932

Pub. Date: 04/28/2001

Publisher: Beacon

"Fascinating. . . . Eller carefully clips every thread from which this matriarchal myth is woven."
-Natalie Angier, The New York Times Book Review

According to the myth of matriarchal prehistory, men and women lived together peacefully before recorded history. Society was centered around women, with their mysterious life-giving powers, and they were honored as

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Overview

"Fascinating. . . . Eller carefully clips every thread from which this matriarchal myth is woven."
-Natalie Angier, The New York Times Book Review

According to the myth of matriarchal prehistory, men and women lived together peacefully before recorded history. Society was centered around women, with their mysterious life-giving powers, and they were honored as incarnations and priestesses of the Great Goddess. Then a transformation occurred, and men thereafter dominated society.

Given the universality of patriarchy in recorded history, this vision is understandably appealing for many women. But does it have any basis in fact? And as a myth, does it work for the good of women? Cynthia Eller traces the emergence of the feminist matriarchal myth, explicates its functions, and examines the evidence for and against a matriarchal prehistory. Finally, she explains why this vision of peaceful, woman-centered prehistory is something feminists should be wary of.

"Passionately argued, engagingly written, this vital book is certain to inspire wide-and much-needed-debate." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[An] engaging critique of a popular but perhaps self-defeating belief."
-Mark Odegard, Utne Reader

"In unraveling the pretensions of matriarchalists, Eller seeks to show that wider matters are at stake. . . . Matriarchal myth, [she] argues, is actively harmful at worst and at best unnecessary."
-Lawrence Osborne, Salon.com

Cynthia Eller is the author of Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America, a Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1994, and of Conscientious Objectors and the Second World War. She is assistant professor of women and religion at Montclair State University.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807067932
Publisher:
Beacon
Publication date:
04/28/2001
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1Meeting Matriarchy1
Ch. 2Popularizing the Past10
Ch. 3The Story They Tell30
Ch. 4The Eternal Feminine56
Ch. 5Finding Gender in Prehistory81
Ch. 6The Case Against Prehistoric Matriarchies I: Other Societies, Early Societies93
Ch. 7The Case Against Prehistoric Matriarchies II: Prehistoric Art and Architecture116
Ch. 8Was There a Patriarchal Revolution?157
Ch. 9On the Usefulness of Origin Myths180
Notes189
References233
Illustrations Credits259
Acknowledgments261
Index265

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