The coronavirus pandemic, the loss of millions of jobs, and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, among too many others, have prompted activists to shine a light on the injustice and inequality facing communities of color, especially Black women. All of this has a lot to do with rights, but it’s also about something more. It’s about power: who has it, who doesn’t, and how we confront that imbalance.
Mary Beard dedicated an entire book to this subject. In Women & Power: A Manifesto, she explores the misogyny that has shaped our world for centuries, and urges readers to reject the notion of power as a zero-sum game. If power is seen as a tool only a few people can wield at a time, within systems designed by and for men, an entire gender will forever be excluded from it. Instead, she suggests, why not look at power more comprehensively? We should think of it as “the ability to be effective, to make a difference in the world, and the right to be taken seriously, together as much as individually.”