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Women & Power: A Manifesto

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Women & Power: A Manifesto
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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER"A modern feminist classic."—The GuardianFrom the internationally acclaimed classicist and New York Times best-selling author comes this timely manifesto on women and power.
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 back as Homer’s Odyssey, Beard shows, women have been prohibited from leadership roles in civic life, public speech being defined as inherently male. From Medusa to Philomela (whose tongue was cut out), from Hillary Clinton to Elizabeth Warren (who was told to sit down), Beard draws illuminating parallels between our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship to power—and how powerful women provide a necessary example for all women who must resist being vacuumed into a male template. With personal reflections on her own online experiences with sexism, Beard asks: If women aren’t perceived to be within the structure of power, isn’t it power itself we need to redefine? And how many more centuries should we be expected to wait?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER"A modern feminist classic."—The GuardianFrom the internationally acclaimed classicist and New York Times best-selling author comes this timely manifesto on women and power.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 back as Homer’s Odyssey, Beard shows, women have been prohibited from leadership roles in civic life, public speech being defined as inherently male. From Medusa to Philomela (whose tongue was cut out), from Hillary Clinton to Elizabeth Warren (who was told to sit down), Beard draws illuminating parallels between our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship to power—and how powerful women provide a necessary example for all women who must resist being vacuumed into a male template. With personal reflections on her own online experiences with sexism, Beard asks: If women aren’t perceived to be within the structure of power, isn’t it power itself we need to redefine? And how many more centuries should we be expected to wait?
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Product Details
Sales Rank:
52,007
Pages:
128
Publication Date:
12/12/2017
ISBN13:
9781631494758
Product Dimensions:
4.40(w) x 7.20(h) x0.80(d)
Publisher:
Liveright Publishing Corporation
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About the Author

A professor of classics at Cambridge University,
Mary Beardis the author of the best-selling
SPQR and Women & Power and the National Book
Critics Circle Award–nominated Confronting the
Classics. A popular blogger and television personality,
Beard is a regular contributor to the New York
Review of Books.

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Editorial Reviews
…[Beard's] sparkling and forceful manifesto…is a straight shot of adrenaline, animated less by lament than impatience and quick wit…It's a tonic to encounter a book that doesn't just describe the scale of a problem but suggests remedies—and exciting ones at that.12/04/2017
Based on a lecture from the London Review of Books lecture series, this essay from Beard (SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome) uses examples from literature to show deep roots of misogyny in Western culture. Beard uses clear and elegant prose to explore the ways in which men have silenced women and excluded them from the public sphere throughout history. She traces the phenomenon from Homer’s Odyssey, which Beard cites as the “first recorded example of a man telling a woman to ‘shut up,’” to the hostile treatment of women politicians today, which Beard sees as exemplified by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stopping Sen. Elizabeth Warren from speaking on the Senate floor in early 2017. Beard argues that there is still no clear concept of what a powerful woman looks like, except “that she looks rather like a man,” this being why numerous Western political leaders wear “regulation trouser suits.” Beard ends on an open note that questions the nature of power itself: “If women are not perceived to be fully within the structures of power, surely it is power that we need to redefine rather than women?” This slim and timely volume leaves readers to contemplate how women can reconfigure society’s current perceptions of power. (Dec.)“[A] sparkling and forceful manifesto…The book is a straight shot of adrenaline.”“Mary Beard is a fearless writer with the gift of writing the right book at the right moment, and I’ve been emboldened by her brilliant analysis of women’s voice and role in society since antiquity, Women & Power.”
“At just a little over 100 pages, Women & Power: A Manifesto may seem slight, but don't let its size fool you. This book speaks volumes and will not be silenced by Telemachus or anyone else.”
“A clear, rich, subversive and witty argument about what power has meant to Western civilization from ancient times, and how its meaning could be changed in the future.”“Beard always fights back, with humor and the confidence of intellectual authority…It’s fun to read Women & Power. Beard’s slim, elegant, well-illustrated book would fit nicely into a Christmas stocking.”
“Beard's thrilling manifesto turns to ancient times to find the seeds of misogyny, beginning with Homer's Odyssey (the first instance of a woman told to shut up) and continuing through Elizabeth Warren's 2017 silencing in the Senate. An irresistible call for women to speak up, act and redefine their power.”
“Beard is our most famous classicist, with a gift for bringing ancient Greece and Rome alive on the page like no one else. She is a writer of exceptional erudition and biting wit, and reading her is always a pleasure. This latest manifesto...is no exception…Beard has written an indictment, perhaps her most uncompromising to date, of an ancient past that she is hardly asking us – has never unequivocally asked us – to celebrate. As far as women are concerned, in relation to this ancestral legacy, there is very little to be proud about…The question I finally take from this brilliant book is: what would such power – no rape, no guns, no shutting up of women – look like?”“There’s something about Women & Power that ensures it stands out from the rest though. Beard’s is a manifesto firmly grounded in rigorous academic study made legible for the masses, and her proposal for change as radical as it is reasonable and – we can but hope – realistic.”
“Troll slayer.”“Battling back her antagonists [Beard has become] something of a folk hero.”“What she says is always powerful and interesting.”“A Cambridge professor and a television lecturer of irresistible salty charm.”“A pithy exploration of misogyny’s tangled cultural roots. Based on a series of lectures, this slim volume draws on Beard’s deep knowledge of the classical world and her personal experience as a target of online sexist abuse. She reflects on the gendered structures of power, from voiceless women in Ovid’s Metamorphoses to feminists “reclaiming” Medusa. With clearsightedness and wry humour, this self-described “gobby woman” proves public speech is no longer the preserve of maleness. More power to her.”“An irrepressible enthusiast with a refreshing disregard for convention.”★ 2017-11-14
Noted classicist and essayist Beard (S.P.Q.R.: A History of Ancient Rome, 2015, etc.) looks deep into the past and hard at the present to examine the power of women—and more often, their powerlessness—in a world of impatient men.Sen. Elizabeth Warren was far from the first woman to be silenced, publicly, by a man who did not want to hear what she had to say. As the author chronicles in the first of two lectures in this slim but potent volume, Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, hushed his mother, Penelope, saying, "speech will be the business of men, all men, and of me most of all." Penelope retreats to her quarters, although in fact she does have something important to say. Women who managed to make themselves heard in the ancient world usually did so with asterisks attached, as when Maesia, who defended herself in a Roman court, was successful because, a contemporary recorded, "she really had a man's nature behind the appearance of a woman." The classical inheritance has provided a template that holds to this day—and when not silenced, women are threatened and trolled, as Beard is every time she writes an essay for nonacademic readers. Silence links to power or the lack thereof; in this regard, argues the author, women do not recognize their achievements and the possibilities of self-governance—or, perhaps more to the point, "have no template for what a powerful woman looks like, except that she looks rather like a man." In closing her provocative, thoughtful, and elegantly but lightly worn literary argument, Beard observes that were she writing her lectures afresh, she would "find more space to defend women's right to be wrong," since they have to be unimpeachably correct in order to be taken seriously—if then.An urgent feminist cri de coeur, spot-on in its utterly reasonable plea that a woman "who dares to open her mouth in public" actually be given a hearing.
★ 02/15/2018
Originally delivered for the London Review of Books winter lectures series, in 2014 and 2017 respectively, the two essays that make up this slim volume are timely and trenchant additions to our public conversations about women and political authority. Beard (classics, Cambridge Univ.; SPQR) ranges across 3,000 years of Western history and literature to reflect on how and why women are so persistently excluded, as a class, from the public halls of power. "The Public Voice of Women" asks readers to consider the many ways we have of not listening to women; "Women in Power" suggests that leadership remains a fundamentally masculine space. An afterword briefly discusses the context in which these pieces were written and the work still ahead. References provide avenues for further reading, and illustrations from both classical and contemporary culture provide visual evidence for the enduring sexism Beard describes. VERDICT Although many readers might have already encountered earlier editions of these pieces, this volume remains a fresh presentation of thoughtful political commentary from a historical and feminist perspective.—Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Massachusetts Historical Soc.
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Customer Reviews (2)
Fabulous book. Perspectives I had not considered backed by a power ...
Fabulous book. Perspectives I had not considered backed by a powerful mastery of history and observation. My daughter gave this to me for Mother's Day; what a great gift it was. Any woman interested in how our place in society developed and/or who wants to grow as a person as as a group would benefit from reading this.
- Anonymous
June 5, 2018
This is a very short book which is really transcripts of lectures ...
This is a very short book which is really transcripts of lectures on the history of Women and their lack of political power. She begins in ancient history and continues to contemporary times. The power in question is mostly political. The author is a scholar but these lectures are for a mass audience. She does not offer any solutions. Overall this is a quick thought provoking read.
- bookwomen37
March 10, 2018
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Women & Power: A Manifesto
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Women & Power: A Manifesto
Pub. Date: 12/12/2017
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
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