Book of the Week, November 11th, 2017


Women and Power: A Manifesto

Mary Beard

Well known historian, author and TV presenter, Mary Beard has been very public about the sexist abuse and trolling she has been victim of on social media. In this short but powerful book she calmly traces the gender agenda back to classical times showing ‘how deeply embedded in western culture are the mechanisms that silence women’


She starts with Homer’s Odyssey, written 3,000 years ago. Telemarchus, son of Odysseus, while still a young lad, sends his mother, Penelope, upstairs to her quarters and to her weaving loom, saying ‘speech will be the business of men’. Then there is Io who is turned into a cow and can say nothing but ‘moo,’ and the nymph, Echo, is punished so that her voice only ever repeats the words of others.


It is a pattern of male dominance of the public political arena that has persisted ever since.


Looking at strong women in history from Elizabeth 1st to Margaret Thatcher, Mary Beard analyses how far we have come and what still needs to change for women to be free to claim full equality.

Penguin, Hardback £7.99.