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 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 l

  • Title: The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future
  • Author: Cynthia Eller
  • ISBN: 9780807067932
  • Page: 272
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 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 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.

    One thought on “The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future”

    1. **Edit 7/6/2017: I'm getting people starting to comment on this review who clearly have not read the book nor understood my review. If you use ad hominem attacks you will be reported and blocked. Please do us all a favor and keep discourse civil. This is for Pete's sake. It's a website about books. Why would you troll a book review site and start arguments with strangers over a book you've never read?Also, this is a *really old* review, and lots has changed since then. I'm leaving the review as [...]

    2. Despite its length (188 pages in my edition), Cynthia Eller manages to thoroughly destroy the idea that a "matriarchy" ever governed the affairs of men and women. And she argues this based on three obstacles:1. There's no evidence that woman ever held the dominant position. There's evidence that woman could hold relatively high status in some cultures but in even the "poster child" of matriarchalism, Minoan Crete, the evidence turns out to be far more ambiguous and open to interpretation.2. Ther [...]

    3. I am not as impressed by the research as I expected to be, as this book was recommended so enthusiastically by a group of (mainly male) historians, and I'm surprised they weren't more critical of the methodology.I don't think the discussion was as thorough on many aspects as it should have been. A lot of counter arguments have been left out; though I make no claims to be an expert, that was obvious even to an interested amateur. For instance, no attempt seems to be made to do justice to the dept [...]

    4. It's a shame the author's only comparative motif is social commentary instead of archeological evidence. I do not believe she makes her premise solid enough in order to stack her burdensome scholarship on top of it. I hope it get better.

    5. Why on earth, on which kind of strict scientific premises is the so called "matriarchalist´s" research about contemporary or prehistoric matriarchy, delineated by Eller as "essentialist" just because of claiming the nurturing and caretaking role of the mother being the leading principle of such societies, but not the patriarchalists claiming male domination, violence and warmaking as that universal principle being "essentialist" too?As there are so many young students and scholars today, as for [...]

    6. Cynthia Eller's THE MYTH OF MATRIARCHAL PREHISTORY is a careful deconstruction of the ever more common urban myth that thousands of years ago women were held equal or even superior in all human societies. This misconception has worked its way from a small group of extreme feminists and passe archaeologists into even some high school and university courses, and Eller's work is most welcome.Her archaeological critique is right on target. While some feminist matriarchalists assert that it was the I [...]

    7. I found this an absorbing examination of feminism's spiritual roots and its use of myth, and a very interesting discussion of the implications of belief in this particular myth (or theory, if you prefer). As one of those "feminist archaeologists", I thought Eller handled the archaeological evidence (and the often abstruse archaeological literature) very well (see here for more on gender & archaeology.

    8. Vivid, clear, and reasonably well paced. While emphatically feminist in outlook, this book does a fairly thorough job of knocking the props out from underneath feminist myths of past matriarchal harmony and goddess-worship. The author quotes freely from other writers, but never loses control of the narrative. Very well done social science.

    9. Anthropology isn't of particular interest to me, but I've come across the (discredited) idea of a matriarchal prehistory repeatedly and was curious as to what were the arguments. This was concise, informative and pretty witty.

    10. The idea that long ago human societies were matriarchal, ecologically sound, peaceful, is actually a pretty common one that many of us carry unquestioned (along with the image of the Venus of Willendorf as its go-to visual aid); this book aims to debunk that idea, but clearly Cynthia Eller is no anti-feminist. In fact it's pretty clear that Dr. Eller is a committed feminist researcher who has spent a lot of time thinking logically about a clear and simple argument, and she is committed enough to [...]

    11. Based on other reviews I've written I think I either got something different out of this book than others, or some readers take the book as saying no matriarchal societies do exist/have ever existed. The point I got from this book is that the idea of a universal European matriarchy involving the monotheistic worship of a Great Goddess and was characterized by a lack of warfare, a veneration of women (including women having the important voices with regard to tribal decisions) and, to some extent [...]

    12. Anyone who rubs shoulders in the worlds of feminism or neopaganism/new age spirituality has probably already confronted and formed some opinion on the subject matter of this book. However, I would also recommend it to anyone interested in human prehistory, historical linguistics, anthropology, or social science who may only be peripherally aware of it. If you are involved in any of these fields, you will likely have heard, at least in passing as I had, about the concept of matriarchal prehistory [...]

    13. For those coming to this book without strong opinions one way or another, it is a reasoned, logical and flatly devastating dissection of recent efforts at historical revisionism by religiously and politically motivated feminists. It is also markedly free from malice.I sought out this book after becoming aware that congregants at UUA churches were involved in various activities rooted in beliefs about matriarchal prehistory. That struck me as odd, because I regarded contemporary Unitarians as rat [...]

    14. Very interesting as an introduction to the feminist spirituality movement and its rather problematic foundations in 'retrofitted' research and gender essentialism. I've never been able to 'get' modern goddess worship, and Eller's argument has reinforced my doubts. recommended to anyone flirting with pagan feminism as a critical analysis of that belief system.

    15. Interesting case study in how ideological driven agendas can shape the archaeological record to say whatever they want it to say, although I thought at times that the author was oversold the "little or no differences" branch of feminism.

    16. Excellent discussion of the problems inherent in invented histories and modern origin myths. Eller has an axe to grind, but I find myself in much greater agreement with her stances, observations, and assessments than with even the best stated theses of proponents of goddess spirituality.

    17. Explores the myth of a Matriarcal past and why it isn't a helpful belief. Written by a feminist author, so this isn't about woman bashing. Rather is is about how this myth isn't particularly useful in carving out an egalitarian future.

    18. Thorough dissection of The Myth--lacking a bit on application of her point. I felt like she never quite got exactly where she wanted to goRegardless, was thought provoking and gave a refreshing voice to the feminist discussion.

    19. States the case well of rejecting an assertion based in dogma and ideological purity rather than the historical method or evidence.That being said the book is pretty boring.

    20. Well written, poignant very well researched and all in all one on the bravest books I have read over the last few years.

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