In her introduction to her 1986 book The Creation of Patriarchy, Lerner states that she wants to fill a gap in feminism by writing a history of the rise of patriarchy from a woman's perspective. Women's history, she asserts, has been undervalued and overlooked because history has been written by men. There is, therefore, a significant gap between what women have contributed to society in reality and how that has been recorded in history.
Lerner argues that, at its core, women's subordination to men is not "natural" but constructed, so she believes it is important to trace out how patriarchy began, looking to ancient Mesopotamia. She says that her book raises questions she hopes to answer by a study of the ancient world, such as locating which "definitions and concepts" have led to women being segregated and subordinated in the historical process, and why women have for so long been complicit with men by becoming "unconscious" transmitters of a patriarchy that subordinates them.
Lerner states she is looking at the historical record to trace out what "ideas, symbols, and metaphors" led to patriarchy become entrenched. She notes that adding women and women's view or "eye" to history is transformative, but comments, too, that just having equal "parts" in the stage play of life will not give women equality as long as men have the "script, the props, the stage setting, and the direction" in their own hands. Her believe is, that having been socially constructed and not innate, patriarchy can be socially deconstructed as people come to understand more about it.