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First published November 2, 2017
"Kendi himself has concluded the only way black people would not be discriminated against in some way is if everyone recognize that blacks are at least as talented or flawed as whites and should be treated accordingly, that is to say, with the same amount of attention and acceptance of their potential talent, as for their potential for error. Anything less is racist."There is more in Beard's manifesto, for instance “if women are not perceived to be fully within the structures of power, surely it is the power we need to redefine rather than the women.” We are reminded that the structures of power may need modification if not dismantling. Beard reminds us there will be winners & losers in this scenario, but these concepts have been a long time coming. I won’t be sorry to see the old ways go.
On most images of the goddess [Athena] at the very center of her body armour, fixed onto her breastplate, is the image of a female head, with writhing snakes for hair. This is the head of Medusa, one of the three mythical sisters known as the Gorgons, and it was one of the most potent ancient symbols of male mastery over the destructive dangers that the very possibility of female power represented. It is no accident that we find her decapitated – her head proudly paraded as an accessory by the decidedly un-female female deity.
You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change the structure. That means thinking about power differently. It means decoupling it from public prestige. It means thinking collaboratively, about the powers of followers not just leaders. It means, above all, thinking about power as an attribute or even a verb ('to power'), not as a possession. What I have in mind is the ability to be effective, to make a difference in the world, and the right to be taken seriously, together as much as individually.
just how deeply embedded in Western culture are the mechanisms that silence women, that refuse to take them seriously, and that sever them...from the centres of power. This is one place where the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans can help to throw light on our own. When it comes to silencing women, Western culture has had thousands of years of practice.Beard locates the first written record of a man silencing the public voice of a woman in the first written record of Western culture, Homer's Odyssey, in this pronouncement by Telemachus to his mother Penelope:
go back up into your quarters, and take up your own work, the loom and the distaff...speech will be the business of men, all men, and of me most of all; for mine is the power in this household.The first essay is a brief catalog and analysis of examples of this male stifling of women's speech from the classical era to a 1988 Punch cartoon captioned: "That's an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it."
We have not got anywhere near subverting those foundational stories of power that serve to keep women out of it, and turning them to our own advantage."Recommended for most.