In an engaging interdisciplinary study geared to a general readership, Robert S. He cautions that by employing the traditional approach "we historians have put ourselves in the same situation as. The loss of value in their traditional roles left men adrift, seeking new meaningful roles, and increasingly resentful of women. This thesis is provocative but sometimes oversimplified. McElvaine, chair of history at Millsaps College, traces it to the invention of agriculture.
Journal of the History of Sexuality But these flaws don't detract significantly from the daring of McElvaine's challenging overview. After surveying the five million years of human evolution preceding the dawn of agriculture, McElvaine concludes that "the most significant historical events" took place about ten thousand years ago, when the invention of agriculture started to disrupt long-established ways of life, creating a social environment for which the "human biogram" was not well adapted. Equally important has been the concomitant suppression in men of all values, ideas, and characteristics associated with women and so defined as inferior. McElvaine cites male fears of biological inferiority as the basis of women's subordination, finding that "male assertions of superiority" stem from insecurities based on their inability to bear and nourish children. You are not currently authenticated. A "real man" has been seen in most cultures as "notawoman. The rest, he says, is history—pretty much all of it—and, the gains of women in recent decades notwithstanding, these legacies from mistaken ideas in the Neolithic Age continue to have enormous effects on us today. Written with passion, wit and insight, this accessible book throws down the gauntlet to academics and nonspecialists alike, daring a radical rethinking of the basic ""truths"" on which cultures have been constructed. McElvaine argues that from this essential error arose hierarchies, dualistic thinking, competition, war, slavery, racism, individualism, consumerism and, of course, sexism. McElvaine terms the advent of agriculture a "megarevolution" that reshaped human society, fundamentally altering the relationship between resources and population This Seed Metaphor, which McElvaine calls "the Conception Misconception," has remained with us throughout history and it continues to mislead us in profound ways down to the present. Now what had been an essentially horizontal division became a clearly vertical one: If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click 'Authenticate'. McElvaine, chair of history at Millsaps College, traces it to the invention of agriculture. The woman-made world of agriculture had, paradoxically, become a man's world to a degree unprecedented in human existence. McElvaine begins the book by saying that if he had to sum up human history in a single sentence, it would be: The author traces the role of sex in history in chronological fashion, beginning his inquiry in the prehistoric past and concluding with the late twentieth century. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Hunting was no longer needed and defense against other species declined in importance as groups of humans settled in growing numbers in farming areas into which predators ventured less frequently than their paths had crossed those of human hunter-gatherers. Thus, McElvaine reasons, because of their biological incapacities, men throughout history and across cultures have suppressed women, excluding them from various domains, creating separate definitions of "manliness" based upon a false opposition to "womanliness" 4. It necessarily followed that the Ultimate Creative Power, God, must also be male. The toxic fruit that grew from the Seed Metaphor, McElvaine says, was male monotheism. The cultivation of crops, he says, devalued males' social role as hunters and, at the same time, gave rise to the ""conception misconception,"" which held that males alone possessed reproductive power while females were merely empty ground in which men sowed their seed. Wilson both see Eve's Seed as a ground-breaking work that will change the way we see the human condition. As the author acknowledges, conclusions resting upon the prehistoric period must, by their nature, be tentative and even speculative. McElvaine explores the human story from its hominid roots to the present in search of an explanation for the historical subordination of women and the role of sex in shaping history.
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