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Women & Power
Cover of Women & Power
Women & Power
A Manifesto
Borrow Borrow
New York Times Bestseller
One of the Guardian's "100 Best Books of the 21st Century" — "A modern feminist classic."

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?

New York Times Bestseller
One of the Guardian's "100 Best Books of the 21st Century" — "A modern feminist classic."

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?

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About the Author-
  • A professor of classics at Cambridge University, MARY BEARD is 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.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine The author--who also narrates this audiobook--is a highly respected professor of classics at Cambridge University. With insight and humor, she makes a case for redefining how women should be perceived--and perceive themselves--if they are to coexist with those of other genders on equal terms. She argues that as women have the opportunity to assume more power, their models of behavior shouldn't be based on male templates. One example she discusses is attitudes towards women's voices, which are often considered by men--and women--to be inappropriate for public speaking. So women, whether Hillary Clinton or the late UK prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, are urged to take lessons to modify them. Whether schooled or not, the author has a deep, sonorous voice and a wonderful English accent. L.W.S. � AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 4, 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.

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