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Mini book review - 'The Power' by Naomi Alderman

I’m probably late to the party here, but I just finished this book and wow. This is exactly what I needed to read at this moment. This was deeply satisfying, cathartic, and ended up giving me a sense of peace that I didn’t think was possible in this political climate.

The book is about women developing electrostatic powers (basically overnight) that make them stronger than men. It goes through a 10 year period in which women overthrow men to become the “dominant” gender.


It goes pretty much how you’d expect something like that would go. There are some things about it that I find questionable. Fair warning, some of the following is spoiler-y, but I’ll try to keep it broad and not give too much away. So first thing - as soon as these powers emerge women immediately band together. Or at least that’s how it feels. Personally, I think 10 years is a very short period for attitudes and cultures to flip. Women not only immediately reject the patriarchy, but begin to embrace this idea that women are superior. I just think something like that would take generations to achieve. But for the sake of story, it happens faster so it can follow the same characters. Another point - the women immediately assume the inner dialog that men in our world have. There’s a lot of objectification of men and talk that men are inferior. But again ...that all ties back to the fact that this book obviously wanted to hurry the flip along. It’s very fast-paced. It’s also written in first person which aids that.

Another bit that I didn’t totally agree with...and again, I’m trying to keep this as broad as possible to not spoil things if you want to read it. I do think if women were suddenly in power, we’d still have gendered violence (just in this case against men), and rape would still happen (especially how it comes to be in the book), but I always thought the one difference between a patriarchy and matriarchy would be how the children are treated. They don’t switch the roles so far that it’s men having babies. It’s still women. Women still have to go through pregnancy and give birth, and because that’s such a burden I just assumed children would be treated better in a matriarchy. But maybe I’m wrong about that. After all, in our world there are female pedophiles and women who abuse little kids too.


Also TW about this book - there are many rapes scenes in it. There is one where a man rapes a woman, and the rest are of women raping men. It’s pretty terrible. Also there is a lot of other violence in the book. So warning there.

One last minor gripe, but it’s not even an actual criticism. Like I said the culture shift seems to happen fast. There are details or dialogue that hint to this flipped world, but you really don’t see too much of it. And those were the things that I found so satisfying. I actually want to read more about this culture. I’d like a second book just about a day in the life of people there.


Anyway, after reading it I’m having this moment where I can easily flip around things in our world. It’s like I’m temporarily pulled back, and I can more easily see the absurdity of everything related to gender. But I’m not affected by it. Normally I get pissed where I hear incel/mra-types talking their male superiority bullshit. In fact I just came off a thread where guys were doing that, but I was able to calmly respond. It didn’t get to me like it normally does. For some reason after reading this it just cemented in my mind how ridiculous that thinking is. Cause right, if women were somehow stronger, it’d be different. It’s helped me further recognize how depressingly irrational people are when it comes to gender (and also race and sexuality, but this book focuses on gender). Nothing in this book is stuff that I didn’t think about before when playing this particular what-if scenario out in my head. But something about reading it all written out really helped me. I think this might be a book I revisit often, because I don’t want to lose this feeling. And I know after maybe a month or so of being a woman in our world that I might get entrenched again.

I completely recommend this book for anyone. Especially those of you who feel particularly powerless and depressed about the state of gender equality. Again I don’t know how long it’ll last, but for now it’s given me a temporary peace.

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