It’s been a weird time to be a woman. Here in the UK we’re approaching the 100 year anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. We’ve seen women come together for movements such as #Metoo. All of this against the backdrop of women’s refuges closing and the ‘global gag rule’ being reinstated.
As such, is it any wonder one of the most talked about books last year directly discussed gender and power?
As an English Grad, I have spent many an hour discussing how masculinity is being portrayed in various classic novels. To see a book focusing and discussing the female gender in this way, instantly intrigued me.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but the basic plot follows a number of women from various walks of life. So what makes this book special? One day women all over the world rediscover their dormant ‘power’ – an electrical like charge they can dispense at will.
I’m going to be honest, it took me a good while to get into this book. I’d heard such good things about it, maybe I overhyped it… but I was on holiday so stuck with it, and I am so glad I did.
The novel explores how physical power is so tied up in power dynamics in the modern world – from walking down the street to religion. It imagines how men may react if one day they were no longer the ‘stronger’ sex – some are scared, some angry and others, slightly turned on.
There is so much to be said about the ideas in this book, I don’t know where to begin. From the use of technology to spread messages and bring women together, to the shame that can be felt if you do not fit into the gender stereotype ascribed to you.
There’s far too much to say in one blog, so if you are interested in gender (or alternative futures) this book will be straight up your street.
What I will say, is one of things that I loved about this book was its honesty. I guess we like to see the good in people, we like to think that if women had power as described in the book, it would be used to promote equality.
But, would it?
If you had power, would the shifting dynamics be enough? Would you use it for the greater good, or for your own gain? If you had treat badly, abused or trafficked, would freedom be enough or would you want revenge?
The women in this book each have their own motives – and to some extent, they all make perfect sense. You can understand why the want this, and deep down it makes you wonder if you would want it to, were you in their shoes.
The characters are not the selfless, altruistic characters women are often shown as in literature. They are hustlers, imposters and unsure of their actions. Sure they are daughters, mothers and friends but for once this is not the point, the women in this story are not viewed purely in their relationships to others.
It reminds us, now more than ever, that women are not just ‘women.’ We are driven, strong and capable. We can hustle, care and cry. We are more than just our gender – we’re human.