In her review of Hannah Rosin's latest book, Mary Beard deconstructs the idea of a ruling matriarchy and exclaims "if only!"
The myth of matriarchy is one of patriarchy’s oldest inventions. Those stories of primitive warrior queens, buxom mother goddesses and tribes of Amazons are no evidence at all that women did once rule the world. As most anthropologists have recognised for decades, these are cautionary tales invented by men to justify their own dominance. The important point about matriarchy in most of these myths is that the women rulers made a terrible mess of things or they imposed regimes of such terror (who would like to be ruled by the Amazons, after all?) that there was no choice but to overthrow them. And that, according to the logic of the stories, is why we now have patriarchy.
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