WW archiveIssue 910
19 April 2012
World-historic defeat of women
Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group examines myths about a supposed "primitive matriarchy"
Take pretty much any hunter-gatherer society in which men monopolise ritual power. You will find a myth explaining how men once violently seized that power from women, the previous rulers of the world. Often, the myths are quite explicit about this - they do not need much decoding. But I would also include more cryptic, far-from-obvious fairy tales such as ‘Jack and the beanstalk’, ‘The sleeping beauty’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. The great French social anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, carefully studied 1,000 similar tales from North and South America. The final chapter of his monumental work The naked man - which he entitled ‘One myth only’ - concluded that humanity’s interconnected myths amount ultimately to just one. Like the shifting patterns seen through a kaleidoscope, all are clearly variations on a theme.
Better in; Disdainful; 'Idolisation'; Secular limits
With a long way to go in a short time, Robbie Rix asks for your help.
Eddie Ford dissects the moral hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie regarding Burma
We must mobilse against the threat of war with Iran says Yassamine Mather
Toby Abse reports on the scandal that has engulfed the main Italian far-right regionalist party
George Osborne's tax changes have been criticised for threatening charity in this country - if only, laments Paul Demarty
What is class-consciousness? Paul B Smith discusses the possibility of a political revival
Maciej Zurowski looks at a literary scandal and the bourgeoisie's attempt to cope with its past