Mary Beard, Women and Power: a manifesto
“change the structure”
A small book, a short read, some big ideas. I picked out a few that seemed central as far as my understanding of the situation and possible solutions she discusses (the italics are not direct quotes but the lifting of the essence of the idea that I understood from what Beard writes):
the cost of silence and the price of being heard (pg8): the dilemma of trying to get ‘a seat at the table’, a voice in society and the vitriol heaped upon women who do achieve this.
It is not what you say but the very fact of you ‘saying’ that offends (pg 36): simply for having an opinion and the gall to state it publicly that makes women a ‘valid target’ (for any level of opprobrium/hate speech)
Beard states that we must consider what power is, what it is for and how is it measured (pg 83): correct in so many spheres, discussions.
…before concluding/advising/(hoping) that we need to change the structure…think about power differently…think collaboratively…make ‘power’ an attribute or a verb, not a possession…(pg 87): Thatcher got her hands on the trappings of power, but what did she do with them to affect the lives of women for the better? It is noted that some 60+% of the MPs in Rwanda are female, which leads Beard to ask if the real power in Rwandan society lies out with their Parliament.
This comes back to the idea that to be truly democratic a system must be truly inclusive, with an equality of access and opportunity for all; for decisions not to be made on the basis of partial understandings, partial information, or by the exclusion of interested parties. By maintaining a system that effectively marginalises half of us, we are going into the fight with one hand tied behind our back. It is ultimately self-defeating.
Read the book, the reading won’t take long, thinking about it may take a lifetime.