The Power by Naomi Alderman: A Review
It is a fantasy that all women have had. The power to strike down our oppressors, our abusers, the ones who leer at us on the streets, touch us without consent, and grope us at our workplace, in public transport, in clubs. Anywhere and everywhere we go, we are told to keep vigil. To be alert; because maybe we will be safe that way. But we never are. So, when the Day of the Girls come, girls live that fantasy. They strike down their oppressors with all their might, leave them injured and even near death as electricity pumps through their veins. A striated muscle in a female’s collarbone, called the skein, is the cause of this power. The power only awakens in girls but they learn to rouse it in women as well. And suddenly, the tables are turned. The women are the ones with the power, and men without.
The book takes us through a journey that we have all dreamt, a world where women will have all the power to resist, to fight, to bruise and to stop those who oppress them and benefit from their misery. A girl who was being sexually assaulted by her adoptive father leaves him lying dead on the floor with his pants around his ankles. Women who were sold into sex slavery, gather their strength and unleash their wrath upon all those who had any hand in it. This is all good, right? Why should they not be allowed to torture those men as they had tortured them? Why should they not have the right to remove them from this Earth, so that they could never do it again?
But it doesn’t end there. The book is so well-written and it grips your mind, daring you to look away yet you can’t. It makes us question everything we know, and everything that we believe about ourselves. It makes you ask a million questions. Will this really happen if the landscape changes so suddenly? Will all women really become oppressors after being oppressed for centuries? And worse of all, will they all really become abusers when given all that power?
I would like to think not. We would all like to think not. When we fight sexism and patriarchy every day, the fight is for equality, to be treated fairly. But when given the power, will we become the same as those men with their toxic masculinity? We do not know for sure, but Naomi Alderman explores that avenue too well. This book is not for the light-hearted. It is about the possibility of what will happen if women are given power more than men have ever possessed, and what they will do with it. It begs the question, whether those with power always exploit those without.
To say that this book changed me and my perspective would be accurate and yet underrated. It made me question every facet of my being and every ideal that I pride myself upon. I, for one, can’t wait to read every other book written by Naomi Alderman and see how she changes my being with them.