Mary Beard on Women and Power
In Greek and Roman antiquity, women’s voices were proof of their wickedness. The pitch and prattle was considered harmful, even unsanitary. In literature, powerful women were emblems of usurpation and mortal danger. Women speaking in public could not only jeopardize the men close to them, but bring about the fall of a nation. And yet this antiquated way of thinking isn’t quite as antiquated as it seems. Mute women, brutal men, shame as a means of control, androgyny as a means of avoidance: we haven’t progressed as much as we might think we have. And if Mary Beard’s new book, ‘Women & Power’, is about female silence in Ancient Greece and Rome, it is also a rousing call to recognize a heritage of female muteness and, in doing so, to subvert it. In this fascinating Spotlight interview with Dan Snow, Mary Beard explores the many ways that women have inherited a legacy of silence, and what we can do about it.