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Unformatted text preview: WOMEN IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION overview of womens social, legal and political status in the West womens assigned roles in religion, the family, the workplace, and political life changing nature of womans place in each period of history conflicting expectations for women of different class and race identities Prehistoric Images of Women Eisler ; Chapters 1 & 2 Chapter 1: Journey into a Lost World: The Beginnings of Civilization The Paleolithic old stone age ; the period between about 2.5 million and 20,000 years ago ; up to 10,000 BCE. awe at both the mystery of life and the mystery of death widely held belief that the dead can return to life through rebirth association of the powers that govern life and death with woman association of the feminine with the power to give life (in Paleolithic burials) cowrie shells-on and around the corpses, shaped in the form of a portal through which a child enters the world, associated with early worship of a female deity, life-giving agent red ocher-representative of the menstrual blood of woman, symbolize the vitalizing power of blood rites seemingly designed to encourage the fecundity of the wild animals and plants that provided our forbearers with life support same source from which human life springs is also the source of all vegetable and animal life-the great Mother Goddess or Giver of All; all nature treated with respect conventional stereotype of earlier scholars>saw Paleolithic art in terms of: primitive man: bloodthirsty, warlike hunters, male centered theories. One of their assumptions is that only prehistoric man was responsible for Paleolithic art. This was not based on any factual evidence. Women, not men do rock painting (pp. 3) Arrows, barbs, spears, harpoons can just as easily be plants, trees, branches, reeds, and leaves [Paleolithic cages, engravings, rock paintings] [t]he traditional view of Paleolithic art as primarily primitive hunting magic can be seen as projection of stereotypes rather than logical interpretation of what is seen. And so also can the explanation of Paleolithic female figurines as either obscene male sex objects or expressions of a primitive fertility cult. [pp. 5] Paleolithic art expressed some form of early religion in which feminine representations and symbols played a central part. female figures and symbols were located in a central position in excavated chambers; masculine symbols occupied peripheral positions or arranged around female figures and symbols. like the seasons and the moon, womans body also goes through cycles...
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