The Power by Naomi Alderman

My brother bought me the kindle version of this book for Christmas and I was very excited to read it when I saw it was on Obama’s list of favorite books read in 2017. It did not disappoint. It’s been said to be the opposite of The Handmaid’s Tale in that instead of men having all the power, women are in control.

The story begins with letters between Neil and Naomi Alderman (the author). They have a fictional conversation where Neil discusses his finished book which he hopes Naomi will read and offer some advice and guidance. He states, “Thank you so much for this. I am so grateful you could spare the time.” With this short introduction, we start to see how the times have changed in this future where men are the underdogs. While Neil is fictional, along with the rest of the book, the fact that he “wrote” The Power, and Naomi took credit, is another example of how women take advantage of men in the future.

The majority of the novel is focused around four main characters, Allie, Roxy, Tunde, and Margot and part one is titled “Ten Years To Go.” With each chapter, we get closer to ‘the event’ and we find more and more situations of sexism that are reversed from what we see today or in past history. From something as little as telling a man to smile more to issues of rape and abuse, we see how women become corrupt by the power they possess.  We find parents telling their sons not to go out alone and people suggesting that men are the softer, gentler gender.

Alderman does an excellent job of reversing roles in this novel and in doing so drives two points home. The first point being that she is able to show how things that men do today can be incredibly condescending, inappropriate, and downright terrible. Since men have always been in control of our society, each push toward equality seems like such a great leap that we forget about the little microaggressions that occur every day. When we see these microaggressions reversed toward men, I think most people can see how irritating they are (or at least hopefully men can) and that they do matter.

The second point that Alderman drives home is that women can become just as corrupt as men if they are given all of the power. I have been having this conversation with people for years now – the problem in today’s society is not with men as a gender. It is with human beings and our ability to become corrupt with power. Ideally we would live in a society that is 50/50 women/men in power (with reality being that we teeter totter back and forth between majority men or women in power). In this ideal, both men and women would not be able to get away with abusing the opposite gender without angering the other 50%. The sexual abuse allegations and scandals in Hollywood right now are a perfect example. Since mostly men have been in power for so long, women did not feel that they could speak up about the abuse. While other men often knew about their colleagues indiscretions, they would not speak up because they thought it would end up harming themselves more than helping. Now imagine all the roles are reversed. In Alderman’s universe, and what I believe to be true in today’s world, women would do the same thing to men (if not worse to “make up for” our inequality in history). Now imagine men only make up half of the power structure in Hollywood. In this case, men or women would be far less likely to get away with horrible acts due to the response from the rest of the people in power.

Anyways, the point is that women are likely no better than men when it comes to corruption from power. The idea of feminism is equality for women and men, but not for women above men. The greatest strength in the feminist movement is to have men by our side fighting for our rights as well. We cannot condemn all men due to the acts of a few. We will lose every time if we cannot differentiate between an honorable man and a reprehensible one. 

I apologize for rambling, but this is a topic I could go on for hours and hours about and I really loved that The Power was able to put a lot of my thoughts into a story worth reading. I really recommend giving it a go, please let me know what you think.

As for my next book, I am actually already going to change it up from the list I posted a few weeks ago. I read a blog post recently about This website allows reviewers/bloggers/etc to request books that have not yet been published to read and review. I decided to try it and I now have another five books added to my list of reading. I didn’t expect to be approved for so many (I only requested 6 in total), but I’m really excited to read them. I am going to try to read all of these soon since they expire once they are published. I mostly requested history and historical fiction novels because I’ve started to find those genres more and more fascinating. However, the one I’m reading right now is just fiction and I should be finishing that any day now. It is called Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante. I’m most excited for First Ladies of the Republic and plan to read that next. Thanks for reading!

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