The Patriarchs: How Men Came To Rule
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For fans of Sapiens and The Dawn of Everything, a groundbreaking exploration of gendered oppression—its origins, its histories, our attempts to understand it, and our efforts to combat it
For centuries, societies have treated male domination as natural to the human species. But how would our understanding of gender inequality—our imagined past and contested present— look if we didn’t assume that men have always ruled over women? If we saw inequality as something more fragile that has had to be constantly remade and reasserted?
In this bold and radical book, award-winning science journalist Angela Saini explores the roots of what we call patriarchy, uncovering a complex history of how it first became embedded in societies and spread across the globe from prehistory into the present. She travels to the world’s earliest known human settlements, analyzes the latest research findings in science and archaeology, and traces cultural and political histories from the Americas to Asia.
In the 19th century and 20th centuries, philosophers, historians, anthropologists, and feminists began to actively question what patriarchy meant as part of the attempt to understand the origins of inequality. In our own time, despite the pushback against sexism, abuse, and discrimination, even revolutionary efforts to bring about equality have often ended in failure and backlash. But The Patriarchs is a profoundly hopeful book—one that reveals a multiplicity to human arrangements that undercuts the old grand narratives and exposes male supremacy as no more (and no less) than an ever-shifting element in systems of control.