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The Power of Women by June Sarpong

Published by Harper Collins 2016


Tea before the G 'n' T (or two)

I grew up watching June Sarpong on T4 and MTV and always envied her glamour and style. I haven't seen her in the media for years and I didn't realise that she has been working so hard to make a difference for women across the world, working with other leading activists. I came across this book when I started preparing for the Reading Women Month bingo challenge (https://www.readingwomenpodcast.com/). I realised I didn't have anything to fulfil that square so I needed no further encouragement to buy something new. I was surprised to see that she had written a couple of books so, I ordered both of them. In fact, both titles would fulfil two of the prompts so I felt completely justified! Like I need any encouragement.


I have to admit, I was surprised when this one arrived. I ordered it second hand from worldofbooks.com and didn't look at the page count when I bought it. It's tiny! But, still, it was a book on feminism and a good one to kick off the challenge and the month of June. I had a Saturday alone so I took this, my journal and a cheeky little G 'n' T (or two) out into the garden. I must have been engrossed because when I looked up and went inside for some more ice and a slice, I was already sun burned. So much for my mediterranean heritage.


For a slim book it certainly got me thinking and overall I think this is a great introduction to feminism as it highlights women's lost potential and the positive impact on the economy of encouraging more women in the work place. She goes on to discuss expectations of women in the media particularly women in Hollywood and the lack of diversity in magazines, all of which I agree with. The following quotation jarred with me, though.


"The burden of women being judged by their appearance before all else is, therefore, especially damaging for women of colour."


Is it? I found this view limiting and had to remind myself that Sarpong was writing from her own experience, as that of a woman of colour. She has been in the media for over twenty years and has certainly been discriminated against not just for being a woman but as a woman of colour. Perhaps, if I wrote a similar book I would focus on feminism and disability, but I'd rather read something that was based more on how all women can help each other. It took until about half way through the book for Sarpong to mention the importance of intersectionality and women of all minorities. When she did she was keen to push the idea of women supporting women but also the importance of not shutting men out. She made it very clear that she would like to see parity among the sexes not a dominance of women over men. I am here for that! I was disappointed that ideas of intersectionality didn't feature more heavily as it felt to me as though that paragraph was edited in to satisfy people like me, rather than to add to the discussion.


This was such a short book that I felt many of her ideas were underdeveloped simply because of its brevity. I look forward to reading her other book Diversify: six degrees of integration and I'm sure she'll go into further depth as it's a much chunkier book! I will say that her writing is engaging and I like her writing style very much, her tone is conversational but the content is well researched. I would certainly recommend Women in Power as a good introduction to feminism and one that will prompt further questions in the reader.


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