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Gender Dichotomies and Visibility

By Literata

I want to recommend the book The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory as a good example of critical thinking applied to an interesting area of academic study which also has implications for our lives today. Its feminist perspective is a refreshing counter to the still pervasive assumptions about sex and gender which mostly rendered women invisible. Its conclusions – and it offers more questions than conclusions – will not make Goddess worshippers stand up and cheer. But they might give us a better awareness of what we do and don’t know about our own past and, what’s more, better tools for addressing some issues we’re struggling with today.

The work itself seems to be a competent and wide-ranging summation and discussion in nontechnical terms about many widely varied trends in anthropology and other areas of research into prehistory. The title is meant, of course, to refer to the way women have been made invisible in most readings of the past. As the authors point out, archaeology was until fairly recently practiced largely by men communicating with other men in mind. Thus it is unsurprising, if disappointing, that the stories they told, and still tell, are largely stories about men.

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