London Review of Books - Women in Power
I’ve talked before about the ways women get silenced in public discourse. And there’s plenty of that silencing still going on. We need only think of Elizabeth Warren being prevented a few weeks ago from reading out a letter by Coretta Scott King in the US Senate. What was extraordinary on that occasion wasn’t only that she was silenced and formally excluded from the debate (I don’t know enough about the rules of procedure in the Senate to have a sense of how justified, or not, that was); but that several men over the next couple of days did read the letter out and were neither excluded nor shut up. True, they were trying to support Warren. But the rules of speech that applied to her didn’t appear to apply to Bernie Sanders, or the three other male senators who did the same.
London Review of Books - Public Voice of Women
There are only two main exceptions in the classical world to this abomination of women’s public speaking. First, women are allowed to speak out as victims and as martyrs – usually to preface their own death. Early Christian women were represented loudly upholding their faith as they went to the lions; and, in a well-known story from the early history of Rome, the virtuous Lucretia, raped by a brutal prince of the ruling monarchy, was given a speaking part solely to denounce the rapist and announce her own suicide (or so Roman writers presented it: what really happened, we haven’t a clue).