Lerner documents the twelve-hundred year struggle of women to free their minds from patriarchal thought, to create Women's History, and to achieve a feminist conciousness. Lerner argues that the millenia-old educational disadvantaging of women and their marginalization in the intellectual life of Western civilization retarded women's ability to comprehend their condition and to define their needs as a group. She shows the devastating impact on women's psychology of notions of their innate mental inferiority, reinforced by generations of the teachings of family, church, and state. In examining feminist biblical criticism, Lerner illustrates her most important insight - the discontinuity of Women's History. The book also embraces the life and works of individual women who resisted patriarchal indoctrination, from Hildegard de Bingen to Emily Dickinson.
Gerda Lerner has lectured and taught widely across the States on the subject of women's history and feminist consciouness. She has written six other books in women's history, including Women and History: Volume I - The Creation of Patriarchy (OUP, 1986). She is the winner of the Joan Kelly Prize in Women's History from the American Historical Association.