Gender Essentialism in Matriarchalist Utopian Fantasies: Are popular novels vehicles of sacred stories, or purely propaganda?


  • Christine Hoff Kraemer independent scholar



contemporary Paganism, Goddess movement, popular novels, matriarchal prehistory, spiritual feminism


In The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future (2000), Cynthia Eller attacks feminist narratives of a peaceful, egalitarian, Goddess-worshipping Neolithic Europe. She argues that they are too gender essentialist to be socially liberating to women. Popular novelists, who play a powerful role in spreading these narratives, however, resist the essentialism of more expository accounts of prehistoric matriarchy. Instead, their fictional accounts present more nuanced views of women’s roles in imagined Goddess societies, and suggest ways in which the myth might be successfully used as a liberating sacred story.

Author Biography

Christine Hoff Kraemer, independent scholar

In 2007, Christine Hoff Kraemer completed a PhD in Religion and Literature at Boston University with a project entitled "The Erotic Fringe: Sexual Minorities and Religion in Contemporary American Literature and Film." She is now an independent scholar living in Austin, Texas.


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How to Cite

Kraemer, C. H. (2010). Gender Essentialism in Matriarchalist Utopian Fantasies: Are popular novels vehicles of sacred stories, or purely propaganda?. Pomegranate, 11(2), 240–259.