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Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rhodes chapter.

“What we need is some old fashioned consciousness-raising about what we mean by the ‘voice of authority’ and how we’ve come to construct it.”

The above excerpt neatly summarizes Mary Beard’s Women & Power: A Manifesto. This “manifesto” of sorts consists of Beard analyzing the role women are historically expected to play and how these expectations affect various females today—specifically politicians. The first half of this novella, “The Public Voice of Women”, explores how women are portrayed in Western Literature in classic works such as Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The latter half titled “Women in Power” discusses the damaging effects that we are still struggling with today as a result of history’s definition of women.

I appreciate how Beard clearly lays out the facts, following with a crisp explanation of their issues. This work does not ramble, rather, Beard cuts straight to the point. As to how we ought to correct these problems with society, we are left to figure that one out on our own. The answer, as hinted at in the quote above, is obvious.

If you are searching for a short piece that’s both fem lit and backed with facts from ancient roots in literature, look no more. Mary Beard’s Women and Power: A Manifesto is the educated, well-informed rant we’ve all been waiting for.

If you’ve already read (and loved!) Women & Power, I’d recommend Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World by Jennifer Palmieri (review coming soon!), or any of Mary Beard’s other works! Beard is a Classics Professor at University of Cambridge, an expert in her field, and embodies #grlpwr.

“You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure.”



A connoisseur of books, fan of spicy foods, and a tea aficionado. She loves black coffee, groovy tunes, and justice.