Contested Gender Status and Imagining Ancient Matriarchy

Rosemary Radford Ruether

in Goddesses and the Divine Feminine

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780520231467
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940413 | DOI:
Contested Gender Status and Imagining Ancient Matriarchy

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This chapter focuses on nineteenth-century western Europe and America, where contested gender identities take a more strident form with the emergence of feminism. Waves of male historians and archaeologists who studied the ancient Mediterranean world sought to reread the roots of European society as a story of the rise of patriarchy from an earlier matriarchy. This theme was taken up by socialism and early feminism and reinterpreted to affirm liberative hopes for an emerging socialist and/or feminist society. This chapter also looks at three nineteenth-century thinkers who employed both the idealization and the denigration of women's nature to enforce the reigning views of women's necessarily limited sphere: August Comte, Horace Bushnell, and Arthur Schopenhauer.

Keywords: Europe; America; feminism; patriarchy; matriarchy; August Comte; Horace Bushnell; Arthur Schopenhauer; socialism

Chapter.  10726 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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