The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future

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Beacon Press, 2000 - Social Science - 276 pages
2 Reviews
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.
 

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User Review  - jen.e.moore - LibraryThing

This is an utterly fantastic book about feminist mythology, gender roles, and how we know things about prehistory. Eller is demolishing the idea that there was once a universal, feminist, matriarchal ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gwernin - LibraryThing

In the early 1970s I read a lot of feminist books. Working for a while in macho Puerto Rico in my first job out of college, and subsequently doing graduate work in a traditionally masculine field ... Read full review

Contents

Meeting Matriarchy
1
Popularizing the Past
10
The Story They Tell
30
The Eternal Feminine
56
Finding Gender in Prehistory
81
The Case Against Prehistoric Matriarchies I Other Societies Early Societies
93
The Case Against Prehistoric Matriarchies II Prehistoric Art and Architecture
116
Was There a Patriarchal Revolution?
157
On the Usefulness of Origin Myths
180
NOTES
189
REFERENCES
233
ILLUSTRATION CREDITS
259
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
261
INDEX
265
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About the author (2000)

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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