Summary and book reviews of Women & Power by Mary Beard

Women & Power

A Manifesto

by Mary Beard

Women & Power by Mary Beard X
Women & Power by Mary Beard
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  • Published:
    Dec 2017, 128 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Book Summary

"A modern feminist classic." - The Guardian

From 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?

Read the opening pages at Google Books





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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

I know that by definition a manifesto is brief, but perhaps in this case it is a bit too brief. I longed to hear more of the author's opinions and suggestions on how to achieve her goal of redefining power. The timing of the publication of Women & Power couldn't be better since a new women's movement – politically and culturally – seems to be on the rise. Beard's manifesto definitely prompts thought and awareness and will make an excellent book group choice.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Media Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
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.

The Washington Post
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.

New York Times
[A] sparkling and forceful manifesto…The book is a straight shot of adrenaline.

People
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.

Forbes
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.

The National (UK)
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.

The Guardian (UK)
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?

Financial Times (UK)
With clearsightedness and wry humour, this self-described 'gobby woman' proves public speech is no longer the preserve of maleness. More power to her.

Publishers Weekly
This slim and timely volume leaves readers to contemplate how women can reconfigure society’s current perceptions of power.

Kirkus Reviews
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.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

What Is a Manifesto?

The book Women & Power is labeled a manifesto, which comes from the Latin word manifestus, meaning "to manifest, to clearly reveal, or to make real." It is a broad term for a public statement of intent, belief, or a call to action issued by an organization or an individual.

Most nonprofit and political groups have a manifesto of some sort which states their purpose – why they exist and what they hope to accomplish. This allows them to frame the organization's goals succinctly, be able to communicate those aims, and recruit others to the cause. These declarations are also meant to inspire, to share a vision and excite others. For this reason, some corporations are ditching their mission statements – which have a dry static ...

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