21 November 2017

‘If you understand the history of a problem, you are closer to solving it’ - a Q&A with Mary Beard

Posted by Mary Beard

Our event tonight with Mary Beard and Sarah Churchwell is sold out, but if you weren’t lucky enough to grab a ticket (or were, and would like a little foretaste of the event), here’s a quick Q&A with Mary about the book and her views on women and power.

Why do you think this book is more relevant than ever today?

I would like to have thought that we would have gone beyond this now, but women are still not being taken seriously, not heard... It’s probably time to realise what a long history there is to this.

Who do you hope will read it and what will they get out of it?

It would be nice if young men read it! But I also hope that women of all ages will enjoy, recognise the problems and feel a bit empowered.

Were you surprised by the response to your London Review of Books lectures?

Yes, a bit. I was speaking from the heart, and was both pleased and a bit sad to discover that I had struck a chord.

Why do you think it's important to understand the extent to which the misogyny of ancient Greece and Rome still informs our view of powerful women?

I’m a historian and I am absolutely committed to the view that if you understand the history of a problem, you are closer to solving it.

When you see so many women today finally refusing to be silenced – the most recent example being actresses publicly denouncing sexual harassment in their industry – do you feel hopeful for the future?

I am ambivalent. I have lived through huge progress for women (in the west at least) and am optimistic that that will continue. All the same, recent events show what a long way there is to go. I long for a day when women (and I mean all women, not just celebs) don’t regularly get their bottoms pinched at the photocopier.

Mary Beard’s ‘Women and Power’ is published by Profile Books, priced £7.99.