Who has read The Power? Thoughts? Please respond in the comments section as I’m dying to discuss this book!
Naomi Alderman’s dystopian novel describes a world where women are thrust into the gendered pole position because they can discharge electricity – giving them the ability to control, harm or kill at will. It’s an outlandish premise, but the page-turn-y romp moves quickly so you don’t get too bogged down with the details. Though it has been described as the Handmaid’s Tale for our era, I wouldn’t characterise it as great literature, but it sure did get me thinking about misogyny.
Is the fundamental basis of male dominance simply necropolitics, or the ability to give death? I have never considered so simple an explanation. Hmmmm…
Then, separately in Jerry Saltz’s review of the new (post-Knight Landesman) Artforum magazine, I read about an article by curator and transgender activist, Paul P. Preciado that seems to address this issue. Preciado argues that ‘power is transitioning,’ and that in order to understand what’s afoot we need to look at traditional power structures. Among others, Preciado describes the necropatriarchal power regime. I can’t do justice paraphrasing it, so according to Preciado:
There is the archaic necropatriarchal power regime, under which only the male body is a fully sovereign body. The bodies of women, children, and nonhuman organisms are inferior. Male sovereignty is defined in necropolitical terms as the legitimate monopoly of violence. Paternal and male authority is primal and absolute. This necropatriarchal definition of sovereignty is the oldest and most widespread way of exercising power, unfolding as extractivism in relation to natural resources, as occupation in relation to territory, as domination in relation to the social sphere, and as rape in relation to sexuality.
The good news is that change is happening, but the bad news is that Preciado sees the Trump era as a ‘recrudescence of necropatriarchal technologies of power.’ Well now add ‘recrudescence’ to the list of words that I needed to look up. It means ‘the revival of material or behaviour that had previously been stabilised, settled, or diminished.’ Oh dear…
So now my head is spinning with new vocabulary and I don’t know if I should be happy about the paradigm shift that is supposedly happening or even more depressed about Trump. There’s much more to look into here, but in the meantime, taking it back to art:
What does killing have to do with art-making and why should the ability to kill make your art worth 47.6% more than the art of women*?
*from University of Luxembourg study reported in Hyperallergic 14 Dec 2017.
detail from Kids With Guns