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5.11.02

More thoughts on the Goddess myth: it's interesting what Goddess writers tend to do with the idea of parenthood. They generally start from the assumption -- borrowed from early cultural evolutionary theory -- that the earliest societies (as well as the primitive people of today) were matrilineal because they didn't understand the father's role in reproduction. Women were the center of social organization -- and thus held both political and religious power -- because of this. Any power that men exercised was at the whim of their priestess-consort (interestingly similar to the position of mideval queens). The emergence of patrilieneal systems was then a plot by men to seize power for themselves. The concept of marital fidelity, enforced by strict laws governing women's promiscuity, was designed to ensure knowledge of paternity and thus make a patrilineal system possible.

I can understand these writers' critique of patriarchy, in particular regarding the double standard for fidelity. But the implicit praise of matrilineal systems seems odd. Though these writers always claim that matriarchy is a benevolent, gender-equitable system, the treatment of parenthood has the marks of patriarchy-in-reverse. The underlying theme seems to be a distrust of men, as if given any knowledge of their heirs men would seize power. The women of these Goddess cultures seem to guard their special privileges jealously, engaging in ritual promiscuity in order to make sure that paternity would never become an issue, thus enforcing a parthenogenic myth, a myth reflected in the praise of female Creator deities and the ridicule of male deities who presume to try to create. It also trivializes the possibility that a father could have some bond with his children. Women's greater biological bond with their children is polarized and extended to the social sphere, so that women have relationships with their children while men have none. These writers' purpose is to criticize inequitable gender relations justified by religion, so why is there not a word spoken against these Goddess cultures? Why is Goddess-worshipping women's rule presumed to be benevolent, in the same way that conservative Christians will defend traditional gender roles?

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