Myths of Male Dominance
Collected Articles on Women Cross-Culturally
This classic anthropological study debunks the many myths behind the idea of “natural” male superiority. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research across cultures, Leacock demonstrates that claims of inherent male dominance and female subordination are based on carefully constructed falsehoods with no historical, factual basis.
Instead, Leacock argues for the material roots of women’s oppression as part of a historic process within the development of human societies. She documents numerous historical examples of egalitarian gender relations, and shows that, far from simply accepting their lot, women across cultures challenged attempts to denigrate and isolate their labor and roles in society. Finally, Leacock’s analysis proves that just as women’s subjugation has not always existed as a facet of human relations, it can also be overcome.
“Highly recommended, both as a critically presented state-of-the-art discussion and as an account of how one’s personal/political history informs the process of scientific inquiry.”
“Eleanor Burke Leacock’s collection Myths of Male Dominance is a feminist classic…. She alerted us to the impact of colonialism on gender roles, showing how missionaries, traders, and an imposed socioeconomic system eroded women’s position at the same time. Europeans misread indigenous relationships, assuming that men were dominant—when evidence suggests that women had a great deal of autonomy and agency. Leacock pioneered our thinking about gender and women, and her research remains immensely relevant today.”
—Louise Lamphere, University of New Mexico, editor of Women, Culture, and Society