How eccentric can a woman be before she is considered crazy? Not very, is the conclusion of Marta Breen.
The fight for Women´s Rights has largely been about breaking the way into the closed rooms of men - in professional life, politics, sports, art or just simply in your typical bar. The women who have made way and kicked in those doors have many times done so at great personal cost.
Using herself as an example, in her life as a writer and debater, Marta Breen tell the story about women in the public, and about the everlasting fight for a Room of Ones Own. She tells us about eccentric "Culture Men" - of both sexes. About Ingmar Bergman, Amalie Skram and Björn Afzelius. About groupies, muses and stalkers. About the male gaze, nipples and the importance of having enough wine in the house.
From the book:
“When us women in culture talk about the privileges of "The Culture Man", it does not mean that we hate him and fantasise about exterminating him. Absolutely not. We buy his books and read what he writes. We listen when he talks. Some times we applaud him, other times we protest against what he is saying. Sometimes we laugh at him. And on occasion, after maybe having a bit too much to drink, we might even go to bed with him. The one thing that never happens though, is that we overlook him – the way he overlooks us.”
An array of current concepts and debates are made accessible with impressive clarity, and the simple language and abundance of absurd examples makes this a feminist page-turner.
The book’s mission is not to analyse, but to document. It exposes the many ways in which women have been – and are – seen, met and discussed…Of Muses and Men shows us with clarity that the classic question of equality is far from outdated. We need thousands of books like this one. We need more and more publications from Marta Breen.
Martha Breen discusses and considers, ponders and reasons, describes and presents, rallies and polemicises. The author has a multitude of ways of writing, thinking and sensing, all of which enrich the text.
In Of Muses and Men, an ingenious pun on the title of the famous book Of Mice and Men by American author John Steinbeck, Breen is concerned with exactly this process of discovery. She doesn’t just point out on more or less every page that women are continually overlooked – usually by men – but also how women are “good” at overlooking themselves. And each other. And perhaps it is that last point which is the best one in this book, the newest and most informative…Our prejudices about how women are and how men are is embedded into our culture…In Of Muses and Men, Breen doesn't restrain from using herself. She draws several examples from her own life while at the same time showing clearly how much she strives to be free and independent in order to live life on her own terms, the way she believes men often do – perhaps especially the famous Man of Culture…If books can change the world, Of Muses and Men is a useful and long-awaited contribution. In any case, I believe this contributes to raising awareness among both men and women about how important this fight is. And not least of all how difficult it is. Shaking off a thousand-year-old culture is hardly doable in fifty years. Author Martha Breen knows that better than most.
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