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The Creation of Patriarchy (Women and History; V. 1)

This is what makes Christianity so different from the rest of human history. This is what sets both men and women free.


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I find it ironic we spend so much time today fighting to make Christianity look like the things of this world instead of fighting to make it like the world Jesus showed us was possible. Part one is available here. A version of this article first appeared in The Anxious Bench blog. It is used with permission. Box Nashville, TN Email: info ethicsdaily. Skip to site content. Search Search. By Beth Allison Barr. Share Tweet LinkedIn Pinterest. Beth Allison Barr. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.

Hi, I’m Elena. I love and work on books.

Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content March 6, radicalfeministbookclub. Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading By the time of the Middle Assyrian laws he is restrained mostly by the power of the state. Fathers, empowered to treat the virginity of their daughters as a family property asset, represent an authority as absolute as that of the king.

Children reared and socialized within such authority will grow into the kinds of citizens needed in an absolute kingship. The king's power was secured by men as absolutely dependent on and subservient to him as their families were dependent on and subservient to them.

The archaic state was shaped and developed in the form of patriarchy. These are overwhelmingly the product of priestly scribes associated with various temples or palaces. Even if we disregard ideological distortions and alterations in basic texts in the interests of a particular divinity or royal personage, we must understand that what we are analyzing here are those myths and texts transmitted and approved by a societal elite. The recorded versions of the myths and theogonies may have enjoyed widespread popular support, but we cannot be sure of that.

The shift from the Mother-Goddess to the thunder-god may be more prescriptive than descriptive. It may tell us more about what the upper class or royal servants, bureaucrats, and warriors wanted the population to believe than what the population actually did believe. For in the very centuries in which we have been tracing changes in the direction of patriarchal god-figures, the cult of certain goddesses flourished and diffused ever more widely. The Great Goddess may have been demoted in the pantheon of the gods, but she continued to be worshipped in her manifestations.

All Assyriologists testify to her enormous popularity and the persistence of her cult, in various guises, in all the major cities of the Near East for nearly two thousand years. The ancient Mother-Goddesses absorbed the features and characteristics of similar goddesses in other regions, as their cults diffused in the wake of conquests and territorial occupations. There is as yet no hard evidence to prove this speculation, but it is difficult to explain the persistence of these female cults in any other way. In the second millennium B.

Gender distinctions were not yet used to explain the causes of evil and the problem of death.

The Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner | Patriarchy | Gender

The cause of pain and human suffering was the sinfulness of men and women and their neglect of their duty toward the gods. And the kingdom of death, in Mesopotamian belief, was as likely to be governed by a female supernatural as not. The great philosophical questions: who creates human life?

No matter how degraded and commoditied the reproductive and sexual power of woman was in real life, their essential equality could not be banished from through and feeling as long as the goddesses lived and were believed to rule human life. Women must have found their likeness in the goddess, as men found theirs in the male gods. The power and mystery of the priestess was as great as that of the priest. As long as women still mediated between humans and the supernatural, they might perform different functions and roles in society than those of men, but their essential equality as human beings remained unassailed" pages Return to Table of Contents Eight: The Patriarchs refers to the Jewish Patriarchs 1 Recitation of Abraham's journey from Haran, Joseph in Egypt, Deborah's prophecy, Saul and David uniting the tribes, and stories of Leah and Rachel 2 "In general, the married Jewish woman occupied an inferior position to that of her counterpart in Mesopotamian society.

Specifically, Men could do anything to their wives, daughters, concubines, or slave women including send them out to be gang raped and murdered. But their cohesion and purity must be guaranteed by male circumcision and strict female virginity before marriage.

The Creation of Patriarchy (Women and History)

Sexual control which ensures the dominance of the father is here elevated not merely to a human social arrangement incorporated into man-made law, as, for example, in the Mesopotamian law codes- it is presented as the will of God expressed in His covenant with the men of Israel. To the question "Who creates life?

Men who aspire to divine knowledge are blamed for bringing evil into the world. We might also note that the means by which humans acquire divine knowledge is by eating and drinking certain substances and by sexual intercourse. God puts enmity between woman and the snake - God forbids the free and open sexuality of the fertility goddess. Eve's punishment both are essential for the establishment of patriarchy : a Eve is to be severed from the snake, the fertility goddess, a requirement for the creation of a monotheistic religion headed by a male god.

Eve becomes the mother of all living things. The source of creativity, then, was the invisible, ineffable God. He created male and female in a significantly differently way, out of different substance, though each enlivened by his divine breath. He covenanted and contracted only with males. Circumcision as the symbol of the covenant expresses that reality.

Only males could mediate between God and humans. This was symbolically expressed in the all-male priesthood, the various ways of excluding women from the most essential and meaningful religious ritual: i. Women were denied equal access to religious learning and the priesthood, and thereby they were denied the capacity of interpreting and altering the religious belief system. We have seen how procreativity and creativity were severed in the creation process of monotheism. God's blessing of man's seed which would be planted in the passive receptacle of woman's womb symbolically defined gender relations under patriarchy.

And in the story of the Fall, woman, and more specifically, female sexuality became the symbol of human weakness and the source of evil. It is in this form that it had its determining and shaping influence on Western science and philosophy. He is quite consistent in reasoning that the biological inferiority of woman must make her inferior also in her capacities, her ability to reason and therefore her ability to make decisions. From this follows Aristotle's definition of gender and its integration into his political thought.

Thus, Aristotle's political science institutionalizes and rationalizes the exclusion of women from political citizenship as the very foundation of the democratic polity. It is this heritage, not the utopian thought of Plato, which Western civilization would use for centuries in its science, its philosophy, and its gender doctrine.

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This metaphoric construct, the "inferior and not quite completed female," became embedded in every major explanatory system in such a way as to take on the life and force of actuality. On the unexamined assumption that this stereotype represented reality, institutions denied women equal rights and access to privileges, educational deprivation for women became justified and given the sanctity of tradition and patriarchal dominance for millennia, appeared justified and natural.

For patriarchally organized society, this symbolic construct represented an essential ingredient in the order and structure of civilization. Such reforms need to be integrated within a vast cultural revolution in order to transform patriarchy and thus abolish it. The system of patriarchy can function only with the cooperation of women. This cooperation is secured by a variety of means: gender indoctrination; educational deprivation; the denial to women of knowledge of their history; the dividing of women, one from the other, by defining "respectability" and "deviance" according to women's sexual activities; by restraints and outright coercion; by discrimination in access to economic resources and political power; and by awarding class privileges to conforming women.

Yet the relationship frequently continues in fact and in law, even when the male partner has defaulted on his obligation.

The Creation of Patriarchy

It was a rational choice for women, under conditions of public powerlessness and economic dependency, to choose strong protectors for themselves and their children. The unawareness of their own history of struggle and achievement has been one of the major means of keeping women subordinate. The connectedness of women to familial structures made any development of female solidarity and group cohesiveness extremely problematic. In fact, protection by slave parents of their own family against the master was one of the most important causes of slave resistance.

In traditional and peasant societies there are many recorded instances of female family members tolerating and even participating in the chastisement, torture, even death of a girl who had transgressed against the family "honor.

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There had never been any woman or group of women who had lived without male protection, as far as most women knew. There had never been any group of persons like them who had done anything significant for themselves. Women had no history- so they were told; so they believed. Thus, ultimately, it was men's hegemony over the symbol system which most decisively disadvantaged women. Male hegemony over the symbol system took two forms: educational deprivation of women and male monopoly on definition.

We have seen how men constructed theologies based on the counterfactual metaphor of male procreativity and redefined female existence in a narrow and sexually dependent way. We have seen, finally, how the very metaphors for gender have expressed the male as norm and the female as deviant; the male as whole and powerful, the female as unfinished, mutilated, and lacking in autonomy.

On the basis of such symbolic constructs, embedded in Greek philosophy, the Judeo-Christian theologies, and the legal tradition on which Western civilization is built, men have explained the world in their own terms and defined the important questions so as to make themselves the center of discourse. It has given men a skewed and essentially erroneous view of their place in human society and in the universe.

Now we also know that we have participated, although unwittingly, in the rape of our minds. It means ignoring all evidence of women's marginality, because, even where women appear to be marginal, this is the result of patriarchal intervention; frequently also it is inconceivable for anything ever to have taken place in the world in which women were not involved, except if they were prevented from participation through coercion and repression. Remember it is not enough to write literature, history, and theology, we must pass these works on to future generations. Help us to preserve these works for a new generation by putting them on library bookshelves.

Copyrighted, created and maintained by Sunshine, , , You have Sunshine's permission to copy and disseminate this document as long as it is attributed to Sunshine and Sunshine's URL appears on the document. Read Free For 30 Days. The Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner. Description: patriarchy. Flag for inappropriate content. Related titles. Carousel Previous Carousel Next. Creation of the Patriarchy- Gerda Lerner Chapters The Path of Knowledge--in the light of Bhagavad Gita.

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