Women Hurrying History: Gerda Lerner

Gerda LernerGerda Lerner was an Austrian-American author, professor and historian who pioneered and propelled the creation of women’s studies and women’s history in universities in the 1960’s. In the early 1980’s Gerda was the president of the American Organization of Historians and helped establish Women’s History Month, which is celebrated around the world each year during the month of March.

As a student at the New School for Social Research, Gerda noticed the lack of women and their historical contributions in her academic courses, both at the undergrad and graduate studies level. She was often told by her professors that women’s history was not an important enough subject to pursue and advised her to stick with “real” history. Being ahead of the time, Gerda furiously dedicated her career and her life pursuing women’s history and culture.

Her ground-breaking book, The Creation of Patriarchy, first published in 1986, is a culmination of Gerda’s 25 year research on women’s history and takes a radical intellectual approach at centering gender and women in the creation of Western culture and history. Through this approach, Gerda analyzed the historically damaging social, and psychological impacts of the erasure of women from history, and how patriarchy shapes the socialization and destinies of men and women.

One of the most powerful statements Gerda wrote in The Creation of Patriarchy is for women to “be woman-centred [and], as far as possible, leave patriarchal thought behind.”[1] In doing so, women can begin to learn to trust their collective female experiences as legitimate human experiences. In this way, women can—and must—pursue women’s cultural and intellectual work in order to build woman-centered narratives and theory so as to shape “a world that is truly human.”[2]

Gerda Hedwig Kronstein Lerner was born on April 30, 1920 in Vienna, Austria, and passed away on January 2, 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin at the age of 92.

[1] Lerner, Gerda. The Creation of Patriarchy. New York: Oxford University Press. 1986. pp. 228

[2] Lerner, Gerda. The Creation of Patriarchy. New York: Oxford University Press. 1986. pp. 229

“Retro Soul” by Ben Sound Music www.bensound.com/

Audio excerpt from the two-part, 60-minute DVD, www.thinkingallowed.com/2glerner.html

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s