The Creation of Patriarchy, Volume 1

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Oxford University Press, 1986 - Civilization, Western - 318 pages
A major new work by a leading historian and pioneer in Women's Studies, The Creation of Patriarchy is a radical reconceptualization of the history of Western civilization that makes gender central to its analysis. The author argues that male dominance over women is the product of historicaldevelopment and is not "natural" or biological and hence unchangeable. Therefore patriarchy as a system of organizing society can be ended by historical process. Lerner focuses on the contradiction between women's central role in creating society and their marginality in the meaning-giving process of interpretation and explanation. This fascinating paradox leads her to an exploration of nearly 2,600 years of human history and into the cultures of theancient Near East, notably the Mesopotamian and ancient Hebrew societies, from whence the major gender metaphors of Western civilization are largely derived. Using historical, literary, archeological, and artistic evidence, Lerner traces the development of the leading ideas, symbols and metaphorsby which partiarchal gender relations were incorporated into Western civilization. The book abounds with brilliant--and controversial--insights. Lerner propounds a startling new theory of class, showing the different ways in which class is structured for and experienced by men and women. She locates the origins of slavery in the earlier practice of "exchanging women" inmarriage among tribes and shows that women of conquered tribes were the first slaves. In addition, the book contends that the exclusion of women from the role of mediator with the Divine--the dethroning of the fertility goddess and priestesses and the conceptualizing of men and women as essentiallydifferent creatures in Greek philosophy--represented the decisive turning points in the way gender is symbolized in Western civilization. About the Author: Gerda Lerner is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and author of such books as Black Women in White America, The Female Experience: An American Documentary, and The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History. Features: A pioneer in women's studies radically restructures the history of Western civilization in terms of gender * Traces the development of the ideas and symbols by which the patriarchal system emerged * Certain to stir controversy in a wide range of intellectual circles

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Using admittedly sparse prehistorical evidence, Lerner offers a plausible multicausal theory to explain the development of the patriarchical system. She seeks to show that the subordination of women ... Read full review

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About the author (1986)

Gerda Lerner, Robinson-Edwards Professor of History and Senior Distinguished Research Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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