„You can´t easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure.“
So says the blurb, and with that it was clear to me, this is a book I must read.
Author Mary Beard has combined two of her essays into one entertaining book. In "Women & Power: A Manifesto," the Cambridge professor shows what cultural patterns supposedly led to women's words often being heard less than those of men.
The ancient historian finds early testimonies and evidence for the silencing of women: Her theses and examples - Penelope or Medusa, - are based on Greek and Roman literature. Women, we learn, were systematically silenced. Beard's manifesto forms an outline of history from Homer's Odyssey to Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus to the hate mail of today and the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements. And she concludes, "Speech is for men."
What makes a good speech, a good voice, what makes good rhetoric, according to Mary Beard, is based on ancient concepts that we still follow and have internalized today. And these concepts are masculine in nature. They are prejudices, attitudes, and assumptions that are hard-wired into us, not consciously, yet as part of our culture, language, and thousands of years of history.
The book not only encourages us to question these antiquated thought patterns, but also to reread the occidental literary classics, and this time perhaps with a different, a more alert eye. To become aware that equality, emancipation and tolerance cannot succeed overnight if systematic "not being heard" was and is part of our lived structure. So what matters is changing that structure.
Mary Beard: Women & Power: A Manifesto