THE WOMEN'S HISTORY OF THE WORLD by Rosalind Miles

THE WOMEN'S HISTORY OF THE WORLD

By

KIRKUS REVIEW

Miles (Women and Power, 1986) doesn't really attempt to cover the whole world here, or to catalog the record of women's achievements and daily lives throughout history--but rather concentrates on the question of how men succeeded in enforcing the subordination of women. Much of the material will be overly familiar to readers versed in feminist history, but the broad range of sources guarantees that most readers will learn something new. In Miles' version of evolutionary history, women's biology (and not male hunting and aggression) forms the basis of human culture: observations of menstrual cycles (and comparisons with lunar cycles) led to abstract thinking ability; child care led to speech; etc. She recounts the historical passage from goddess worship to patriarchal religion (with more discussion of the islamic world than is customary), and historic events that set back the cause of equality--including the Industrial Revolution (which broke up the economic partnership of husband and wife, and led to the exploitation of women and children and the devaluation of women's labor); the French Revolution (women leaders went to the guillotine during the Terror; the Napoleonic Code that later expanded the basic rights of men--and was copied by many nations--took away legal rights that women had enjoyed for years); scientific "advances" (including Freudian psychology) that trumpeted women's biological "flaws," reinforcing insecurity and subjection. A useful and well-written introduction to women's history, and an engaging, though selective and polemic, overview.

ISBN: 88162-348-2
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