When Women Fight Back: “The Power”

In Alderman’s dystopian novel, the sexual tables are turned and women are the aggressors.

2018 has been a pretty challenging year to be woman.

But then, things started to take a turn.

As we march in to 2019, things are beginning to look different for women because of women, and the men who support them. What better time to read Naomi Alderman’s dystopian novel “The Power”?

In the novel, teenage girls around the world suddenly develop the ability to control and use electricity through their bodies. These teenagers are able to awaken this power in the world’s older women, and can use the power to help and/or hurt others.

No one knows for sure how this new development came to be (pollution or recessed genetic traits?) but the men of the world are scared. Women’s bodies suddenly become deadly weapons. Alderman writes, “Already there are parents telling their boys not to go out alone, not to stray too far.”

The story is cleverly told through several points of view:

  • Mother Eve, a formerly sexually abused foster child who becomes the face of the new religious movement;
  • Roxy, the disenfranchised daughter of a British mob lord who saw her mother get killed;
  • Margot, the ambitious American Mayor and;
  • Tunde, the lone male voice, a Nigerian journalist who dedicates his life to chronicling and reporting on the world’s gender revolution.

Alderman delivers a deeply compelling plot, paired with an awe-inspiring alternate reality that envisions what the world would be like if women held the privilege men own today. Alderman does not simply replace power-hungry men with power-hungry women. She reimagines a new world undergirded by female supremacy. What if men had to worry about being outshined at work? What if men had to live their lives in fear of being physically overpowered or raped? Readers hold onto Alderman’s every word until the last page – wondering how this will end, and what this power means for humanity.

Join the Club

The EFSJ Book Club meets monthly to discuss readings over wine, seltzer and cheese. All are welcome to join us. We discuss the varied elements of our readings, and then make action plans to impact our community based on our learning. Information will be available by emailing sarah.carroll.sju@gmail.com, or by following our instagram at ef_socialjustice.

Our upcoming reads (the club meets the 3rd Tuesday of each month, 6-8PM)

January 15 Full Group Book

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives,” by Viet Thanh Nguyen


Suggested Further Reading

Exit West,” by Mohsin Hamid

February 19 Behold The Dreamers,” by Imbolo Mbue
March 19 Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America,” by Beth Macy


About Sarah Carroll 5 Articles
Sarah Carroll is a Baltimore native who moved to Philadelphia to attend St. Joseph's University 11 years ago. Sarah proudly serves as the Dean of School Culture and English Teacher at St. James School in neighboring Allegheny West. Sarah loves running, yoga, reading, cooking, drinking coffee and teaching. She lives with her partner on Midvale Avenue and loves everything about East Falls.

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