Gentlemen and Amazons traces the nineteenth-century genesis and development of an important contemporary myth about human origins: that of a matriarchal prehistory. Cynthia Eller explores the intellectual history of the myth, which arose not from male scholars who wanted to limit the aspirations of the nascent women's movement and vindicate the patriarchal family model as a higher stage of human development. Eller tells the stories these men told, analyzes the gendered assumptions they made, and describes the moral lessons they drew from the presumed existence of prehistoric matriarchies. She reveals the astonishing variety of advocates who have supported the mythfeminists and misogynists, fascists and communists, sexual puritans and libertariansand provides the necessary context for understanding how feminists of the 1970s and 1980s embraced as historical "fact" a discredited nineteenth-century idea.
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