SEX AND POWER IN HISTORY by Amaury de Riencourt


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Like most such projects, de Riencourt's ""all-inclusive interpretation of history from beginning to end"" can be shot full of holes. Women's lib seems to have thrown him into complete panic md this 400-page tract on history as ""the interplay of primary biosocial forces"" -- yin and yang, Female and male -- is the result. De Riencourt begins with the Great Mother of Neolithic culture md traces her gradual eclipse by patriarchal, masculine values. By the time of Rome the men were firmly in charge. It was Rome which spawned the first feminist revolt and, de Riencourt argues with more ardor than sense, as the women grew dissatisfied with childbearing and were no longer content to be ""the proud, dignified and influential mothers"" of the republican period, it was they who spearheaded the flight from tradition and authority, from religion and domesticity -- leaving Rome easy prey for the barbarian hordes. Christianity was better; the Church paid due homage to motherhood -- and didn't the popular ground swell of Mariolatry place the Virgin on a higher plane than the (masculine) Trinity? But with the coming of the Renaissance and the Reformation the masculine mode triumphed. De Riencourt agrees with the feminists that women since the advent of industrialism have been devalued, displaced and treated as ornaments. But heaven forfend that they try to redress their grievances by competing with men ""on their own reserved ground"" -- this will lead to nothing less than the destruction of civilization. In a nutshell this is one more pathetic call for women to reassert their ""eternal feminine"" values -- their intuition, spirituality, their passive, nurturing instincts. Apocalyptic and unconvincing.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1974
Publisher: McKay