My very Catholic and moderately conservative auntie gave me this book for Christmas, since I’m the loud feminist in the family, and I actually think it’s really sweet of her that she thought of me when she saw that.
I do feel like I’m cheating a bit for including this here though, it’s a very very short book, it’s the printed version of two speeches Mary Beard gave (I’ve heard of her through cultural osmosis but have never really come across any of her writings?) on how the image of women in Roman and Greek antiquity still influences the modern, western image of the same.
She does it very skilfully and especially the part about rhetoric enraged me. I work in academia and I’ve seen this happening SO many times: A female researcher presents a solid, perfectly sourced and plausible theory only to be talked down by men who SOUND like they know better, but it’s all just smoke and mirrors, they know how to talk in the way a researcher is SUPPOSED to talk, confident, standing tall, with a deep reassuring voice, while she is short, dressed in a way that makes her uncomfortable and with a high voice that only gets higher because she’s getting angry at a bunch of idiots attacking her work!
Due to its length the book only briefly touches a few selected points of course, all of which should and need to be expanded on, but the whole idea of how there’s no real archetype of what a powerful woman looks like and there hasn’t been in millennia, really hits a mark and I think it’s a great start and definitely provides food for thought.