Now, I’m a modern woman. I work, I want my equality, my independence, my freedom, and I’m certainly no domestic goddess. I’m even a feminist, of a sort, though I generally shudder and shy away from the world because of the militant feminists who give the rest of us a bad name. I seek equality and an egalitarian society – not dominance and supremacy. I digress… my point is that I understand the appeal of the myth. In a time where women are still often treated as second-class citizens, and when many of us where raised in Christianity where women are definitely not depicted in the friendliest of lights (to put it nicely), it’s nice to have a myth where Goddess was supreme and women were respected at least as equals. And I’m not going to say that there weren’t goddesses – but not the one, overarching Goddess that many modern pantheistic neo-Pagans worship. And I’m even certain that there were cultures were women were considered equals in many ways – but the overarching, female dominance creating this blissful utopian ideal just did not exist.
My biggest gripes with the proponents of this theory are in their dishonesty. They will point to “Goddess figures” at various archeological sites and say that this ‘proves’ the Pre-Historic Matriarchy. They ignore the male and animals figures also present at the sites, because this would detract from their pet theories. Ignoring evidence does not a truth make. They also have no real evidence to suggest that these cultures were the utopian ideals that they portray them as – though they blame the evil patriarchy for destroying all the evidence to get around that one… which leads me to another complaint regarding their techniques.
When people disagree with their theories and statements of fact, even providing evidence for where their “facts” fall flat, they often reply with ad hominum attacks – which means they attack the person, instead of refuting the statements of facts. They often dismiss the person as a tool of the patriarchy, trying to keep ‘Herstory’ a secret. When feminists such as myself attack the theory, they cry ‘betrayal’. They can’t stand any honest critique of their theories, so desperate are they for them be true, despite the evidence or lack thereof. But this is not scholarly work, and it doesn’t serve their cause to attack the opponents of the myth with slander.
But even despite the historical aspects of the debate – why not just accept it as a myth. A story that some women like to use to claim a sort of empowerment. After all, I don’t believe that the other myths I cherish in my beliefs are historical accurate, and I certainly believe that there are other methods of knowing and understanding the gods besides through what was written – so why does it matter that this myth isn’t necessarily true? Quite simply, I don’t believe that the myth is beneficial to women, and could actually do more harm than good.
In examining the myth, women are seen as gentle, nurturing life-givers. They are linked with the Goddess in their ability to give birth and be fertile. However, this depiction is both limiting and untrue.
It’s limiting because it defines a women in a role of sexuality and fertility and nurturing, because of their biological make-up. Isn’t this what we’re fighting against? Being sexualized because of our T&A? True, in the feminist spin these attributes are a thing of pride and power and not weakness and submission – but it still confines us to the same narrow box that we have always been placed in. As a woman who never plans on having children, I wonder where my role is in this myth… where do I fit in as an intelligent, artistic, combative woman who’s not quite the ideal that is portrayed?
And it’s not true precisely because of people like me who don’t fit the mold. But, more than that, it’s untrue because women can be catty, petty, back-stabbing, jealous little bitches – and everyone knows it. We can be downright vicious – often more so than our male counterparts. To suspect that a society where women in charge would somehow be this utopian ideal because we’re all peaceful and gentle and loving and nurturing ‘like the Goddess’ is naïve, at best. After all, this same Goddess who gives and nurtures life also takes it without a second thought. This same Goddess is as vicious as she is gentle – so they limit their great Goddess in the same breath that the exalt her.
And this is a myth for empowered women to live by?
I think I’ll pass…
“The Myth of the Matriarchal Prehistory”
An article presenting the first chapter of a book by Cynthia Eller, a feminist.
Pros and Cons of the Myth
"Nevertheless, I do believe that matriarchal myth does a disservice to the feminist movement