Monday, June 20, 2022

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The PowerThe Power by Naomi Alderman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh gosh. I was rushing to finish this book last couple of weeks coz it was soooo not enjoyable :( but I was curious. Main reason I didn't enjoy it was coz its "not quite a novel" as was stated inside. So it feels like this series of articles with only a little bit of insights into what the characters are feeling or thinking.

Before and after the bulk of the novel, its introduced that the premise is that an 'inferior' male author is asking for feedback about his novel from his 'superior' female friend and colleague. The letter exchange between the two is a scintillating portrayal of what it must be like for female authors in our world. It hurts to read it, the pain of the patronizing tone I know so many women must've gone through. :( That and the violence of women against men portrayed in this book are unpleasant to say the least. But they're worth it if you can bring me into that world, that I can experience their perspective. But the distant-style of writing failed at that and I'd rather just go read feminist articles on the internet! :/

And now I feel I need to talk about the big socio-political issue that as a feminist who's healing my trauma, I've thought about a lot, and is dealt with in this book. Oof. It feels big. But here goes.

We live in a patriarchy. A society that benefits men more than women. We have called certain human qualities masculine (like competitiveness and aggression) and others feminine (like cooperation and compassion). I hate that, coz we all have a mix of qualities in varying degrees not defined by our gender, race, etc. But I'm gonna define a "patriarchy" as a society that exhibits what we call "masculine" qualities. So in my mind what the author portrays at the end of this novel, is a female-dominated patriarchy.

And therein lies the rub. Why with all the power of imagination we have, would you bother to imagine that? And the problem is I know why. :( I've been learning so much about the oppression of women over the millennia, the ancestral and collective trauma we all carry coz of it. (and it's helped me begin to understand the trauma BIPOC folks must be carrying) And I've learnt soooo much about trauma, that I now know all of us have internalized this patriarchy model of aggression and competitiveness. So much so, that as women facing injustices, all we can do is write about a future where we are the dominant gender, and that we took it with force and violence and obliteration of history.

And the crux of my issues with this book are that I've also learnt that humans are not violent and abusive by default. We are a social species that began dominating this planet because we are cooperative and sharing by nature! We crave, and need(!) to connect to others in real ways. The competitiveness and tribalism comes out only when there is a lack of resources.

Which is the biggest tragedy of our modern patriarchy. We have resources enough for everyone's basic survival, yet our society is structured so the majority of humans don't have enough. And if we do, we're fed the belief that we will lose everything, that someone's gonna get us, etc etc, creating so much psychological insecurity that we resort to selfishness and hoarding. Or worse, we shut down into freeze mode, keeping our heads down, "don't rock the boat".

Healing our collective trauma freeze is the key to a better world. But instead this novel is being made into a TV show so we can portray more violence. Coz god forbid we focus on portraying a hopeful future. sigh.

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