The Creation of Patriarchy


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Winner of the Joan Kelly Prize for the best work on women's history

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Origins 2. A Working Hypothesis 3. The Stand-in Wife and the Pawn 4. The Woman Slave 5. The Wife and the Concubine 6. Veiling the Woman 7. The Goddesses 8. THe Patriarchs 9. Teh Covenant 10. Symbols 11. The Creation of Patriarchy Appendix: Definitions Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Gerda Lerner, Robinson-Edwards Professor of History and Senior Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is the author of eight books, including Black Women in White America and The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History. She is the recipient of the AAUW Achievement Award for 1986 and was past president of the Organization of American Historians.


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 is a historical (i.e., changeable) phenomenon, not a natural one. Lerner posits that division of labor by sex occurred early but that the oppression of women began with the emergence of agriculture; the domination of women, she argues, preceded and served as the foundation for the origin of private property and the state and the institutionalization of slavery. More narrowly focused and more successful than Marilyn French's Beyond Power ( LJ 6/1/85), Lerner's book will appeal to a sophisticated general reader. For large public libraries. Cynthia Harrison, American Historical Assn., Washington, D.C.

"Excellent and worthwhile for a course on status and gender."--Prof. Hedrich, UC Santa Cruz "Lerner places the patriarchal issues in a larger historical context--which is absolutely necessary for understanding how patriarchy functioned in ancient Israel, and how it finds expression in the Hebrew Scriptures."--Alice L. Laffey, College of the Holy Cross "A provocative and challenging interpretation of the historical subordination of women."--The History Teacher "Lerner's work represents a significant step forward in the development of the feminist critique of the patriarchal edifice of knowledge and the writing of women's history....A very serious, provocative and important book."--America "An important book, worthy of careful study."--A.D. Kilmer, University of California, Berkeley "May well be the most important work in feminist theory to appear in our generation."--New Directions for Women "History in the grand mode....[It] should be on everyone's reading list."--The Women's Review of Books "This book dramatically reopens a chapter of women's history that historians had thought was forever closed to them--the origins of the collective dominance of women by men."--Kathryn Kish Sklar, State University of New York, Binghamton "Written by one of the most brilliant historians of our era, this book dramatically reopens a chapter of women's history that historians had thought was forever closed to them--the origins of the collective dominance of women by men. Its evidence is fascinating, its arguments compelling, and its conclusions full of significance for our time as well as the distant past."--Kathryn Kish Sklar, University of California, Los Angeles "A magnificent achievement."--William Chafe, Duke University "The Creation of Patriarchy gives us a grand historical framework that was impossible even to imagine before the enlightenment about women's place in the world provided by her earlier work and that of other feminist scholars."--Ms. Magazine "The Creation of Patriarchy has the boldness, authority, and richness of The Second Sex."--Catharine R. Stimpson, Rutgers University "A vastly ambitious and admirable, even heroic study...a truly major work....Of marvelous intellectual quality."--History: Reviews of New Books "The Creation of Patriarchy sets out in the best tradition of sophisticated, disinterested scholarship to explore the origins of patriarchy."--Judaica "[Lerner] has brought together a valuable body of information bearing on the condition of women in ancient Near Eastern societies."--Religious Studies Review "Ought to be read by all Jews and Christians attempting to be more faithful to what they have already found in the biblical record--namely, the equality of all humans in the eyes of God."--The Christian Century "Lerner has insights into the history of women, the family, slavery, prostitution, religion and class....[She has] written a book that cannot be ignored."--Ann L. Barstow, CGWHP Newsletter "[A] beautifully written book...Her aim is not only to raise provocative ideas but also to point out that in order to have an accurate history of humankind, it will be necessary for women to reclaim their own history and contributions to culture."--CHOICE "An excellent, focused study of the origins, causes and effects of Patriarchy. I use much of her information in my class 'Women and Religion' because it is so well documented, researched and explained. I have already ordered the book for our library."--Marianne Ferguson, Buffalo State College

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