Women & Power: A Manifesto

Women & Power: A Manifesto

At long last, Mary Beard addresses in one brave book the misogynists and trolls who mercilessly attack and demean women the world over, including, very often, Mary herself. In Women & Power, she traces the origins of this misogyny to its ancient roots, examining the pitfalls of gender and the ways that history has mistreated strong women since time immemorial. As far b...

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Title:Women & Power: A Manifesto
Author:Mary Beard
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Edition Language:English

Women & Power: A Manifesto Reviews

  • Nicola

    I pretty much wanted to underline the whole thing. Review coming in The Big Issue soon.

  • Ina Cawl

    It is a shame for women to be loud

    I don’t know who told me this this stupid wisdom and I don’t remember

    Maybe in my school or maybe in my house but nevertheless I feel guilty for believing it.

    Why some men or most of traditional men are scared of women talking loudly, what about women doest those feel irritated by it ?

    Lack of public speaking to group of people was curse that befell on women for most of time and still now that right to speak in public place ( usually men’s areas ) .

    For many centur

    It is a shame for women to be loud

    I don’t know who told me this this stupid wisdom and I don’t remember

    Maybe in my school or maybe in my house but nevertheless I feel guilty for believing it.

    Why some men or most of traditional men are scared of women talking loudly, what about women doest those feel irritated by it ?

    Lack of public speaking to group of people was curse that befell on women for most of time and still now that right to speak in public place ( usually men’s areas ) .

    For many centuries and centuries women in many countries and continents were usually forbidden or discouraged from speaking in public area to group of people.

    Mary Beard which is very important historian and Author of many historical book

    Has tried to understand why misogyny and men’s fear of women being in power came to being,and why this irrationally still haunts to this day.

    Since the author is a lot of experience in greek roman history and usually that is the historic origin for most of European traditions and norms.

    The book starts with Homer and if you read you remember this scene when

    «Telemachus intervenes: ‘Mother,’ he says, ‘go back up

    into your quarters, and take up your own work, the loom and the distaff … speech will be the business

    of men, all men, and of me most of all; for mine is the power in this household»

    There is some tragicomedy in this scene on how a young boy can order his mom like that and how can his mom allows him to order her like that

    This scene teaches us a lot about what is to be a man in that era

    Mostly being capable of speaking in public and simultaneously disempowerment and subjecting household women to men’s order.

    Miss trigg’s example

    What happens when women in a group of men tries to voice her opinion on the subject

    ( that’s excellent suggestion, miss triggs , perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.)

    Even after voicing her opinions what usually occurs after a few awkward silence is either dismiss it and the men continue from where they were talking or outright ignore her.

    The lucky women who survived the abomination of public speech were either the victims or martyrs .

    Even if women were allowed to speak in classical era they were usually allowed to speak for her own gender and nothing else

    Public speech and the choices women have

    Even if women were allowed to talk in front of many people there were not many subjects to talk about excepts women’s issues or family issues,I know this is important subjects to talk about but even so to minimise women role of defending only to this issues and relegating all other subject as men profession is hidden sexism that contaminates every society then and still now

    Modern internet troll and women speech

    Watching youtube and sometimes reading the comments down below the amount of hate speech directed toward is quite mind boggling and disturbing at least

    I don’t want to generalise but the amount of troll rape threat men send toward far exceed many times the amount of trolls threats women send toward men

    Eventually with coming of 2018 and with so many women speaking against sexual harassment in workforce in media in hollywood and in politics also

    The leeway men got with their outrageous behaviour are coming to end and society for now listens and takes women opinions and thought seriously

  • Lisa

    We've come a long way.

    If we compare our lives today with any earlier time and our place here in Northern Europe with any other place, we should celebrate. And there is nothing wrong with celebrating either, for example by reading an entertaining volume on the voice and power of women - written by one of the many women who have used the luck of time and place well - to become a professor with a clear and loud, and female voice.

    So, let's celebrate.

    But... there is still so much to do.

    How often is

    We've come a long way.

    If we compare our lives today with any earlier time and our place here in Northern Europe with any other place, we should celebrate. And there is nothing wrong with celebrating either, for example by reading an entertaining volume on the voice and power of women - written by one of the many women who have used the luck of time and place well - to become a professor with a clear and loud, and female voice.

    So, let's celebrate.

    But... there is still so much to do.

    How often is a wish for more equality in the contemporary power distribution met with a condescending comment referring to "how grateful we should be to have achieved so much already", thus silently telling us to shut up and stop fighting for more, to be pleased with having almost reached equality? Almost.

    As long as power and masculinity are paired, there is no natural place for women within power. And Mary Beard argues beautifully that the target must be to change the structure and definition of power rather than woman.

    With funny but disturbingly accurate examples from classical times to our present political atmosphere, she shows the reality women face when they try to empower themselves. Either they turn into hybrids like Antigone, Clytamnestra or Medea, powerful by the male attributes they acquire at a high cost, or they face the ridicule and abuse of those who identify power as a male concept per se, and try to push women back into the private or sexual sphere in order to control their voices.

    A thought experiment made it vividly clear to me, myself a privileged, well-educated woman in a liberal democracy: closing my eyes and imagining a professor or a successful politician - I saw a man. An old man. A baby boomer man. A white baby boomer man. How can I blame anyone else for the lopsidedness of perceptions of power if that is what I see?

    Naturally, that is not what I WANT to see, necessarily, so I force myself to imagine a staff picture at a Cambridge university department or in a government of any random country, and I try hard to imagine it in all possible colours and shapes and age groups.

    And I know why I see what I see before my inner eye when I imagine intellectual or political power. We are not there yet. And we are not done until we are there.

    We have a voice. And we will use it. And we have had time since Antiquity to get used to the abuse following a woman's voice speaking up for humanity!

    Mary Beard has a voice that deserves to be heard and respected for her intellectual power and emotional courage.

    Let it be heard!

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This is a very thought-provoking read, as long as you understand what it is - the texts of two speeches Mary Beard has given in the 21st century. Honestly, I do wish she'd used them as a starting point and written a much longer book about the topic, because I think she is drawing some connections I have not seen before - between classical imagery and modern politics, the cultural precedents for the oppression of women in the oldest literature, etc. She completely blew my mind about incorrect inf

    This is a very thought-provoking read, as long as you understand what it is - the texts of two speeches Mary Beard has given in the 21st century. Honestly, I do wish she'd used them as a starting point and written a much longer book about the topic, because I think she is drawing some connections I have not seen before - between classical imagery and modern politics, the cultural precedents for the oppression of women in the oldest literature, etc. She completely blew my mind about incorrect information I had internalized as part of my education, about Elizabeth I and Sojourner Truth, and it just makes me wonder what else she knows that I don't.

    I was glad to see that she included a long list of additional readings and resources, but I

    think there is work for Mary Beard herself to do in this arena.

    The focus of this book is politics and history in the UK but of course there is a healthy dose of the USA in there, as well of some mentions of other world leaders.

    It is making me want to go back and read her well-loved book,

    , because if anyone can bring it to life, surely it is Mary Beard.

  • Bookdragon Sean

    I question the intelligence and moral integrity of any man who does not consider himself a feminist, and I also question the fact that I am the only male in my friend’s list to read this book. Books like this are so vitally important, important for both men and women. So go read it! I’m not trying to shame my male friends, but merely point out the imbalance in the readers of this book, at least, here on goodreads.

    Why is this I wonder?

    Mary argues that ever since the ancient Greeks women have be

    I question the intelligence and moral integrity of any man who does not consider himself a feminist, and I also question the fact that I am the only male in my friend’s list to read this book. Books like this are so vitally important, important for both men and women. So go read it! I’m not trying to shame my male friends, but merely point out the imbalance in the readers of this book, at least, here on goodreads.

    Why is this I wonder?

    Mary argues that ever since the ancient Greeks women have been held back and their voices subsequently silenced. Are we not as men, in effect, silencing her by not reading her words? Food for thought.

    Mary Beard often picks up on the small things, tiny details, but together they represent a cultural mind-set that is inherent and almost imbedded into the human psyche. Often objects of power are associated with ideas of masculinity, which is something women take on when they acquire power. She draws on modern examples, political leaders, who dress like men and take on other traits in order to be more persuasive. Her arguments are often generalised, though what she touches upon is something that cannot by its nature be accurately recorded.

    So this is a rather compelling little book, but I can’t help but feel that it is a wasted opportunity. She really could have expanded upon the ideas here and strengthened them by exploring them further. Although her arguments are intuitive, she only scratches the surface: she could have said so much more.

  • Monika

    There's really nothing new here, but Mary Beard does a wonderful job bringing classical history/misogyny into the 21st century. My biggest complaint is that it just didn't go far enough. I would have loved a full length book on the subject, and she did raise some really interesting comparisons. It just wasn't fleshed out enough for me, and I think it's a better pick for readers just getting started with feminist texts.

  • Thomas

    A splendid start to the discussion about the silencing of women and how patriarchy precludes them from gaining power. Mary Beard traces the roots of this hatred against women back to Greek and Roman mythology, and she connects these historical examples to the modern-day mistreatment of women like Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton. My favorite part of this book: how Beard argues that instead of trying to make women powerful like men, we should change the structure of power to value more tradit

    A splendid start to the discussion about the silencing of women and how patriarchy precludes them from gaining power. Mary Beard traces the roots of this hatred against women back to Greek and Roman mythology, and she connects these historical examples to the modern-day mistreatment of women like Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton. My favorite part of this book: how Beard argues that instead of trying to make women powerful like men, we should change the structure of power to value more traditionally feminine traits. A passage that exemplifies this:

    I only wish that this book had been longer and geared more toward creating solutions. Essentially, how do we change a society that glorifies traditionally masculine ideals of competition, dominance, and achievement instead of traditionally feminine ideals of connection, caring, and nurturance? Other books explore this idea more in-depth, such as

    by Caroline Knapp,

    by bell hooks, and

    by Rebecca Solnit. I also wish Beard has discussed how some women oppress other women, like how white women and White Feminism

    . Still, a good start and quick read for those interested in gender studies and history.

  • Ariel

    “But my basic premise is that our mental, cultural template for a powerful person remains resolutely male."

    I read this text because I thought it might be useful to my investigation of our treatment of instapoets. Adapted from two speeches that Beard made in 2014 and 2017, she tracks what women's relationship with power has been, from ancient myths to current twitter discourse. I personally think a third essay was missing - it would have been great to have an essay of conclusions and solutions. I

    “But my basic premise is that our mental, cultural template for a powerful person remains resolutely male."

    I read this text because I thought it might be useful to my investigation of our treatment of instapoets. Adapted from two speeches that Beard made in 2014 and 2017, she tracks what women's relationship with power has been, from ancient myths to current twitter discourse. I personally think a third essay was missing - it would have been great to have an essay of conclusions and solutions. I'm also not sure if it should be called a manifesto, it felt more like A Few Interesting Thoughts.

    But overall I really enjoyed it, I underlined so many passages from it, and I really liked thinking more about our understanding of power!

  • Jan-Maat

    So short, I haven't quite intended to read it, this moment, but having in idleness picked it up and read a few pages nonchalantly I found I was near enough half way through. Two lectures padded out with illustrations (perhaps Beard had slides for her lectures) I felt these talks her in conversation with Virginia Woolf's

    . Both naturally very revealing about their authors. Woolf the novelist deals in pictures: Woman excluded from public places, woman inherits money and removes

    So short, I haven't quite intended to read it, this moment, but having in idleness picked it up and read a few pages nonchalantly I found I was near enough half way through. Two lectures padded out with illustrations (perhaps Beard had slides for her lectures) I felt these talks her in conversation with Virginia Woolf's

    . Both naturally very revealing about their authors. Woolf the novelist deals in pictures: Woman excluded from public places, woman inherits money and removes herself from public - with inherited money she can afford not to worry and to have a private space to retreat into where she can lock the door and write. Who she will write for or who to is unclear, maybe just for her own satisfaction, since her husband was a publisher getting into print wasn't to be an issue.

    Beard, scholar that she is takes a different approach, less interested in the particular pictures of women excluded from the library or chased off the lawn she looks at the structures and tradition of power and the silencing of women.

    On structure she points out that our notions of power itself are a problem. It is not collaborative, it is a thing to be possessed by a person on their own, by definition most are excluded from it, it is not something we conceive of arising from people working together. Therefore there will be exclusion and participation policed.

    She discusses the shutting up in public of women from Penelope by her son Telemachus onwards, I don't disagree with anything she says but I do notice that not all the world's cultures have adopted Greece and Rome as their cultural ancestors yet one finds that this doesn't limit the public belittling of women even though as she points out the specific forms of silencing in 'European' cultures have a long heritage.

    It might be dispiriting, the pace of change is very slow, but Beard amused me by teaching me that the famous speech of Queen Elizabeth I in which she declaims that she had the heart and stomach of a man etc etc may well be a pure invention,in any case was first recorded forty years afterwards (once she was dead) by a man and more that the well known speech 'ain't I a woman' by Sojourner Truth, certainly was not what she said but a translation into a Southern drawl - she herself a Northerner who had grown up speaking Dutch as her first language, mind you it serves to illustrate Beard's point that for women who are allowed to speak in certain permitted contexts there is no guarantee that her words will stand and not be 'translated' into something considered more appropriate.

    Post script some more hours after reading. One thing that Beard does is illustrate Keynes belief that we are often surprisingly under the influence of long dead thinkers - in this case Beard shows that typical terms of abuse to silence women, describing women's voices as whining, whinging, animal noises, threats of rape and ripping out of tongues, are already there in ancient Greek and Roman writings which are quite explicit that public speech is the domain of the adult man. Ok, so Beard demonstrates that apparently emotional outbursts from the free will of some aggrieved man or other are in fact programmed and automatic responses, but what do we do with this information? And in a book which is called 'a manifesto' were does it lead us towards? Is awareness alone transformative? If I were to be critical I might say that Beard's book draws back the curtain, or points out the Emperor's nakedness but isn't a manifesto in that it doesn't suggest a path leading from the present state to something different other than her suggestion that we rethink ideas of power (admitted that though a very big suggestion).

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