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A History of Feminism in the West | DAVOS 2020

Brian Schmidt
Vice-Chancellor at Australian National University
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World Economic Forum 2020
January 22, 2020, Davos, Switzerland
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About speakers

Brian Schmidt
Vice-Chancellor at Australian National University
Mary Beard
Professor of Classics at University of Cambridge

1989, undergraduate degrees in Astronomy and Physics, University of Arizona; 1992, Master's and 1993, PhD in Astronomy, Harvard University. Currently, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Astronomy, Australian National University. Fellow: Australian Academy of Science; United States Academy of Science; Royal Society. 1998, the High-Z Supernova Search team made the startling discovery that the expansion rate of the Universe is accelerating; recipient, 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. Companion of the Order of Australia (2013).

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Dame Winifred Mary Beard, DBE, FSA, FBA (born 1 January 1955) is an English scholar and classicist. The New Yorker characterises her as "learned but accessible".Beard is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, a fellow of Newnham College, and Royal Academy of Arts Professor of Ancient Literature. She is the Classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement, where she also writes a regular blog, "A Don's Life". Her frequent media appearances and sometimes controversial public statements have led to her being described as "Britain's best-known classicist."Beard was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to the study of classical civilisations.

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About the talk

A century after the women's suffrage movement, join classicist Mary Beard on a journey through the history of feminism in the Western world and the women who shaped it.

Speakers: Mary Beard, Brian Schmidt

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It is almost up an essential with the power structure have to change hashtag me to do that, but when still there also, few female directors and producers in Hollywood Mission until out have fun. Then it changes quickly as most of us would like welcome Smith, time a cosmologist who grew up in the sticks of Montana and Alaska. I'm also the vice Chancellor, the Australian National University. And today it is my honor to have a conversation on the history of feminism. In the west with the name. Mary beard professor of Classics, University of Cambridge. She is a regular on British television

which is exported as I can attest to If you like reading an interesting blog, read her blog at Don's life she is described perhaps in keeping, with today's topic by the New Yorker as learned but accessible which seemed to be a slightly interesting way of describing it. But often described as the world's most famous classes, which I would say it's some levels Also may be damning with faint praise. To me I guess I would say she's more than that a true public intellectual. Perhaps one of the few remaining members of the species here in

2020 where we see public intellectualism. I would say, fading from view replaced by Instagram celebrities, it is an absolute honor and therefore for me to be here and have a chat with you today. So we're going to talk a little bit about how women have been portrayed in the past. So in your book, women and power, which I encourage you to read. It's very accessible. It's nice and short packs. A punch on every, on every page word how women are depicted Through the Ages. So, let's just go back to the beginning. Let's go back to Homer. Let's go back to the Odyssey and perhaps

you can tell us a little bit. Just from the very beginning of the Odyssey and how Penelope is treated at the beginning of the pic, is some of the issues that women still feel about exclusion and silencing the ugly women. So, I'm taking this from a female perspective in a historical context system anyways, and I've read home as well to see since I was a teenager and There was one passage that I must have read 10 or 15 times but only noticed about 10 years ago, is the beginning of the season, is

hero. Odysseus is coming home from the Trojan War. Trying to get back to his home in Ithaca very, very long time because she is a meanwhile at home, his wife Penelope is waiting for him with that song to growing up please, and he is in his twenties when he comes back, we think of the story of the urgency as a story. Growing up book 1, Penelope, is upstairs doing her weaving and she decides to go downstairs into the public and there's a bulge on his whatever and singing

having trying to get back home for a little more cheerful. I like to think of as a slightly kind of waiting gangly, but probably 16 year olds or something comes up and says mother shut up. Speech is men's business. Go back upstairs, and she's being told to shut up song is learning to be a grown up, man. It's not just that he's being a kind of teenager and there is the history. I will say confident that the history of the west, but I think it goes a little further than that. There's no because he has not been replayed ever

since Nothing. You can do any group of women, all kinds of different politics of different versions of feminism. A different group of women. I'm do? You say is there ever an occasion in which you felt that you could not make your point I couldn't eat because The men were not listening to you on the planet who doesn't know what that feels like, they're all kinds of other factors involved. There is racing at Claus and his privilege, but when it comes down to it, the history of the world in a history of men, not listening to an end,

How about that? Listen to other people have to say, it's hard for me to argue with in a university conversations occur in being gobsmack, sometimes by how they play out because she is portrayed, I guess, from my memory of reading that when I was young, as what I would describe as a pair, I had a very strong mother. So I've been indoctrinated in some form of feminism and even if it wasn't particularly described that in my youth and to me she was just a very weak character,

Penelope. She's the one. Rounding into the palace. Odysseus is still coming back. They don't think I want to marry that woman because king of this outfit has Penelope, do every night. She said to them, you can marry me. When I finish my piece of leaving every day, she believes that every night, she pulls out and function never finishes, what does female Wiles for you? There is one in which parish is the perfect size for wife, was waiting for this guy to come back home,

which I think is extraordinary is the even the drums, small mcglade Savvy woman, who's been rearing. This must end just what he says, perhaps a woman. Not empowered. But what you're telling me is she actually wasn't powered within the confines of society of the day. I think you can say. We're in the context of first of all classical. But then European am or wide cultural. Generally has never ceased to be replaced at what temperature should I do. But it's actually that you see that in a nutshell, is happened ever since. So,

let's talk about some of the works back in this time where women seemingly are empowered or have power. But it's always done in a very simple way, so you can choose whichever one you want. But since we're talking, I guess if we look at Agamemnon, for example, in the same story of, of the, the war, what how, how is, how is spring in female? Portrayed, look at this house because they're all at the site or number And one of the things that kind of attracted me to it as a

society which has the patriarchy and sexism by the powerful, women take control and Madea deserted by Jason. They're saying that, you know, I'd rather stand in the back line. Little Women. Fictional women speaking out. What? I think you come to see you later. I didn't come to see it until after I felt more confident about my relationship to this subject is what happens to powerful women in great fiction, something bad, then there is clytemnestra in order to get good Omens from the go to Troy, and she tells him

Every moment that you see male female power in the ancient world, you know that you can buy at the end of the story, this is going to be a female power, always goes to the bad, but there is a single example, for pets pledge. This with female power in Greek, fictional with me. No one capable of ruining the mix of matriarchy that. We often think about, you see a justification for the rule of men because women can never be trusted to rule Which of the Amazons The Warrior.

How about some of my contiga me, who strikes me as being maybe, but she doesn't have a happy ending. because if it's the nuances of great riches show was straightforward, as I'm saying, I think it's pretty much that, but if it was quite a challenge, is a great literature apart from the Poetry of some of these male playwrights ventriloquize, are you version of women's complaints so they build the loo, the ended State. They can construct an image of gender Wars

you to think that people like you ripped. He's also for treason not worth reading because the women always die in the end, that's on the way to that. They are saying. So what what the woman's voice Which he imagines the abandoned women of the forecast in which say to the man who abandoned them that we're not going to open it to be a Pioneer. What would it be like to be on the other side of attempts to think outside the box, which is why do men or women? Enjoy sex more.

And something is the gender fluidity of vertical sport. Tiresias comes out with the artist. Is women have the best time in sex playing in the pool salad patriarchal man is without snorted. So the so what's what's a curious? Because at one point I read the complete works of sappho which if you've done so you'll realize it's not a huge accomplishment. It was apparently revered as a very capable poet of her time but how was she portrayed back then? I mean as near as I can tell, they

again had a way to diminish her. Yet another example of the creative lesbian poet lesbian They called her the tenth Muse, you're bringing poetry. cuz I don't want to other side, don't want to crucify this because the end of the story is always the same but the one you get that and the I think like quite a lot of. I'm conservative, but I think that some of the people in the world to see the, the ambivalence is on the difficulties of a pressure. The most A note will they not only the oppressed that sometimes, the oppressive,

the benevolence in a few that I think, morally and emotionally hard to press another class this week? We've seen that. And I think that gender, gender politics, ancient Greece and Rome of the crease to us, and why complicated ways in which men justify this oppression and suppression of women. But and women ever get the last word and so I'm thinking of a full vehicle and, and that's covered in your book. It strikes me that Didn't she get the last word in the sort of one way or another? We can talk about what that

do in the middle of Roman. Civil Wars gets to see the head of her enemies Cicero. Displayed in the Roman Forum, decapitated him. In the middle of the story is full via takes a pin out of her head and she pisses the tongue of a head the tongue which I got it. Set the scene that has been very unpopular with later painting things like imagine. The point that we can spend that story and think that this is a female Revenge when it's told by ancient writing, this is an example of true horror. This is the woman who is doing precisely

what you fear. Women might not be able to do not respect the head of the Dead Poets of the ends up in the Civil War does but it's very interesting. Movie was involved in a stage stage at the town of Perugia Milton town of Perugia she didn't side. And it's one of the most visited of ancient army culture because what would survive from the town of Perugia is the sling bolts that go backwards and forwards each with a message on the phone was ready to roll over the enemy.

Sometimes I'll ask you about female. Alexa me. We'll talk tonight since the first use of the word clitoris known in Latin is one of these things, which is aimed at it says, on it. This bullet is going for full vehicle. Interest in visiting upstanding moral lady, who can you play me some Authority? Okay. Yes. So when we go through and think about how things may be haven't changed, as much as we'd like them to one of the things that you said that struck me is one of the most obvious things to

come out was the way that women were repeatedly used as a planetary tools for otherwise unexplained events. So they were used to sort of that way. And you talked a little bit about how perhaps that same problems being used to get certain members of the royal family, trying to explain this sometimes old and inexplicable events. Robert Graves his election and Livia manages, the wife of the impress, anybody she doesn't happen to like her. Any unexplained death is the poisoning by this Machiavellian character

character section. In projection, is when it comes out. And having a bit of a rookie time lately, more ways than one, but I was very strong, how you had the female of the royal family, the mixed race female. Why is it? Is wanting to leave his Royal Duty and go to Canada is Meghan Markle. We have absolutely no idea whatsoever and there is no way we're ever going to get hit but we real Oh principally. Absolutely convinced that somehow. The Explorer is the female interloper.

Really, like, throughout Nancy Reagan, was always used to explain why wrong with doing something very stupid as if Ron could wasn't himself in the UK Cherie, Blair, caught it, when I need two things that we didn't want to eventually things we really really didn't want the cheapest, but best 50 Cent. So, another thing that you've talked a lot about is essentially women seizing power, through the me-too movement, and I guess I'm kind of struck by well. Well, there is

fair enough, but if you think of women and the Aristophanes comedy in with Strada, trying to seize power by withholding sex. So, do you think the me-too movement have got to keep going? Or do you think it's going to end up being sort of dismembered by traditional institutions reasserting? Their power was the start of, I'd like to think that I think would difficulty is that is in the princess between being a hashtag sleeping. Getting something done. No, we don't know what's going to happen with all these lines. Do you know,

we could go put it on? I think my money would probably be on, that does not mean that the me-too movement was a futile, gesture know, it doesn't think that things will never go quite back to what they were before. So what's up more likely will become a cup of Kuwait women searching in climbing power. I don't know. And I thought we don't know because I think that it is necessarily why is it possible for those things to happen? if you get Fuller's, I think that if you want those things not to happen,

it is almost up an essential that the power structure have to change. Hashtag me to is extremely good at pointing to that. But when still there, also, few females directors and producers in holdingford, Mission until that happens. Then sings Changes quickly as most of us would like. So, yeah, there's an interesting question about I. Guess how we do bring equality before we get to that. Cuz I'm going to wrap up here pretty quick. What are the things that struck me? I was saying,

okay, so we talked about the Western world and I just quickly went by one of my colleagues are suggested. Let's say what are the top women of classical China? And evil power. So very similar. So are we dealing with? Not just what I would say, it's a style construction. Are we dealing with just a flawed design of the human species? Quit dealing with some sort of construction, but we're dealing with the start of construction that I believe repeats itself over the planet.

Difficult to talk about up to me that we've got something, which is fairly Universal. I think for me the fact that it's Universal doesn't mean it's natural. And the way kind of, I feel that my generation of women was always put down and put back in your box in the ancient world and it is the nature is a societal construction and and so what we think of what happened, So I'm always trying to figure out how to fix things and this will be the last thing that we got guests

discuss. What how do we, how do we get a quality? There are differences between men and women at some level. The challenges is that whenever you have some sort of Separation, then I would always say that it would seem that separate is never equal, but I guess I'm struck by the fact that you are and newnham college, which is they all lemon. So, I mean, is that the solution where you need to have some freedom from men to survive or was it just an accident up there?

Currently in Cambridge, a women's college is extremely useful in terms of the historical development of the universe. Everything around you is like being in a play with your world. Actually, all the pictures on the wall. Is a male. Is it don't storm? And so I think having a kind of college is a good idea. I didn't say I wouldn't say that that's the solution and I think the solution is a long struggle in changing how we think about ourselves. You know, heads up that I think is Live to see that good night but just give you one

example of. If you say to an audience, all this and I say to myself close your eyes and think of a, professor people, you will see is a relatively elderly male white in a white coat. When your own imagination, doesn't see it, even though that's what you are, is an indication of the sort of chap that there is between ethnic origin. Well, it is a gap, which I think we are on a very slow, march to pay at 5. I think we'll finish on that on the Xbox One.

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Brian Schmidt
Mary Beard