Toni Morrison was a featured guest at the New Yorker Festival on Friday in a conversation that touched on everything from the Charleston church shooting to writing about race and her theory on female gods.

In a conversation with New Yorker critic Hilton Als, Morrison used Greek history to address the issue of men inserting themselves into conversations about women and what we do with our bodies. According to Vulture, Morrison told the audience:

“I think that in the beginning, there were a lot of female gods in early civilization because men thought that women just gave birth by magic, whenever they felt like it. Then they began to have domesticated animals, and they could reproduce in three months or one month, and so the guys say, ‘Hey, wait a minute—she’s not the one who gives life—we are!’ So all the gods changed names—there were some little girly gods around… that’s my historical view of the change.”

Who else would love to hear more from Toni Morrison on this topic? The author also talked about the currency of selfies during the convo:

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“What was very definitive about now is that it’s so powerfully self-reverential. Selfies, look at me, novels about me, stories about me... The complexity of the so-called individual that’s been praised for decades in America somehow has narrowed itself to the ‘me.’ When I was a young girl we were called citizens—American citizens. We were second-class citizens, but that was the word. In the 50s and 60s they started calling us consumers. So we did—consume. Now they don’t use those words any more—it’s the American taxpayer and those are different attitudes.”

More excerpts from the interview appear on The Guardian and Vulture.


Contact the author at clover@jezebel.com.

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