When precisely did the ideas, symbols and metaphors of patriarchy take hold of Western civilization? When were women, so central to the creation of society, moved on to the sidelines? Where is the evidence to support the notion that male dominance over women is a natural state of things? Gerda Lerner's radical review of Western civilization shows that male dominance over women has nothing to do with biology, and everything to do with cultural and historical habits.
Dr Lerner draws her evidence from a host of archaeological, literary, and artistic sources, using them to pinpoint the critical turning points in the allocation of women's roles in society. She draws especially on archaeological evidence of the cultures of ancient Hebrew and Mesopotamian societies,
cultures from which modern Western civilization has largely derived. This approach enables her to trace the ways in which men and women have been classified as essentially separate creatures - from ancient Greek philosophy onwards - and also to examine ways in which their experience of society differs, through the structures and symbols of class and religion. Most of all, by showing patriarchy as the result of an historical process, Lerner produces an irresistable argument that it can be
altered, and ended, by similar means.