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Jones, E. (1925). Mother-Right and the Sexual Ignorance of Savages. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 6:109-130.

(1925). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 6:109-130

Mother-Right and the Sexual Ignorance of Savages

Ernest Jones

I. Introduction

Ever since the appearance, in 1861, of Bachofen's famous work Das Mutterrecht, which was based largely on the study of classical literature, steadily increasing attention has been paid to the views of early man there revealed, until at the present day they constitute one of the central themes of anthropological interest. It may be said that subsequent research, although it has had to modify extensively some of his conclusions, has nevertheless amply confirmed many of them, and has shown that they hold good over a far larger field than he was able to investigate.

For reasons that will presently be indicated, however, the subject is apt to arouse intense emotional reactions, so that bias in the conclusions reached, and probably also in the observations made, is only too common. There are certainly fanciful elements in some of the pictures drawn of what is alleged to have been the primordial 'matriarchal' state. A highly-coloured description of it will, for instance, be found in Vaerting's The Dominant Sex, where we are introduced to an extreme inversion of the relation between the sexes. According to the account given there, not only do the children belong solely to the mother, the father being quite unrelated to them either in blood or in kinship, but property belongs only to the women and is inherited only through them.

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