Rob Lund's Reviews > The Power

The Power by Naomi Alderman
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What would a Bizzaro version of The Handmaid's Tale look like?

Or how about if Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned weren't so male-fantasy adventure dystopian?

And then throw in a lot of political intrigue and you might get The Power. It's a really fascinating sociological look at the origins of power. What makes a society patriarchal or matriarchal? The Power answers this succinctly: innate physical power to dominate the other sex ("It doesn't matter that she shouldn't, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth."). And I think Alderman is probably right.

Tipping that scale toward the ladies does a host of interesting machinations. Overnight, religions are contorted toward the feminine pronouns and cults arise. Political power shifts dramatically. Male rape is rampant. In the worst sections of society, slavery and extermination threatens to wipe out men.

On the one hand, it's all brilliant juxtaposition, turning our male-centric expectations (in language, faith, politics, warfare, etc.) on its head. This makes The Power a cunning satire.

But on the other hand, I can't help think that the book's weight is undercut by perfectly mirroring patriarchal abuse into a female equivalent. Is this really a feminist work if it inverts the story of all human history and paints women as the bad guys?
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Quotes Rob Liked

Naomi Alderman
“It doesn't matter that she shouldn't, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.”
Naomi Alderman, The Power

Naomi Alderman
“Gender is a shell game. What is a man? Whatever a woman isn't. What is a woman? Whatever a man is not. Tap on it and it's hollow. Look under the shells: it's not there.”
Naomi Alderman, The Power

Naomi Alderman
“The truth has always been a more complex commodity than the market can easily package and sell.”
Naomi Alderman, The Power

Naomi Alderman
“You have been taught that you are unclean, that you are not holy, that your body is impure and could never harbour the divine. You have been taught to despise everything you are and to long only to be a man. But you have been taught lies.”
Naomi Alderman, The Power

Naomi Alderman
“The shape of power is always the same: it is infinite, it is complex, it is forever branching. While it is alive like a tree, it is growing; while it contains itself, it is a multitude. Its directions are unpredictable; it obeys its own laws. No one can observe the acorn and extrapolate each vein in each leaf of the oak crown. The closer you look, the more various it becomes. However complex you think it is, it is more complex than that. Like the rivers to the ocean, like the lightning strike, it is obscene and uncontained.”
Naomi Alderman, The Power

Naomi Alderman
“We’re only pretending everything is normal because we don’t know what else to do.”
Naomi Alderman, The Power


Reading Progress

December 31, 2019 – Started Reading
December 31, 2019 – Shelved as: library
December 31, 2019 – Shelved
December 31, 2019 –
2.0%
December 31, 2019 –
9.0%
January 1, 2020 –
30.0%
January 3, 2020 –
59.0%
January 4, 2020 –
88.0%
January 4, 2020 – Finished Reading

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