We did this to ourselves. I really have no right complaining to you about it. Like that will stop me.
Let’s set the scene: it’s a brisk fall evening in the city that never sleeps. The club ventures down to the Lower East Side (LES for all the NYU snobs out there) for our latest gathering. The bar is tucked away on a quiet section of Rivington St, away from the bustle of the Bowery. Down the uneven concrete steps we walk into the den of our dreams. Small wooden tables line one brick wall, while sunken leather sofas, Edison bulbs, and built-in wine cabinets complete a warm and inviting space that I would dare HGTV to top. I believe one club member even called this place her wet dream (for obvious reasons, I won’t disclose who it was. We don’t know each other that well yet).
We should have realized that, given the pheromones released by staring at exposed brick, it would be the perfect date night spot. We know of at least three couples who ended their night tangled in bedsheets with their amour. And we full-heartedly support their endeavors. Cuffing season is upon us; you gotta nail it down soon before flight prices go up. We just really don’t need to see you dry humping while we enjoy our charcuterie board.
Pro tip: two bottles of wine does not make them go away. It does make you drunk (why does your alcohol tolerance disappear after 25? Shouldn’t it improve with age?). What actually makes you forget about the girl with the pink dye job sucking her boyfriend’s face off: stories about electrifying women (literally) setting the world on fire. I’m obviously talking about our latest pick, The Power by Naomi Alderman. You may have seen it as the speculative fiction title on the NYT’s Top Ten Books of 2017, or Margaret Atwood’s knock-your-socks-off endorsed read. Or on Obama’s reading list. Regardless, if you haven’t heard about it, it is our privilege to tell you to stop what you’re doing and go to the nearest library or bookstore.
The premise: in a present almost identical to our own, young women wake up one morning with an immense electric power coursing through their veins. This power has the ability to weaken any man, and much worse. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to figure out how the world reacts: it loses its shit. What does happen is unusual: women fight back, and they win. They channel their strength to topple the patriarchy and install a new world order. Told through multiple perspectives (female and male), Alderman presents a matriarchy that is awe-inspiring and terrifying. It gives the reader pause. If women were given the opportunity to dismantle the system, would they create a world founded on fairness and equality, or would some use their power to suppress? Through the journeys of each character, she demonstrates how power corrupts, and how the well-intentioned allow themselves to be swallowed up in the same cycles of abuse.
Like I said, nothing kills libido quite like a story about women burning it all to the ground for funsies (this is not Beyonce’s version of girl power). But, in today’s endless news cycle of hate and fury, it’s important for us to understand what power is, and what it can do to us if left unchecked.
If you’re looking for further reading, check out this enlightening interview with the author. And if you learned anything from our last meeting, it’s this: never go to a wine bar that has couches. You now know what happens on them.