Annette Simmons writes with a kind of refreshing irreverence. She isn’t interested in winning over hearts and minds. That ship has sailed, as far as the tone of her writing is concerned. What she’s really trying to lay the case for, complete with the release of the work that is Drinking From a Different Well: How Women’s Stories Change What Power Means in Action, is how female empowerment will benefit all of us.


Forget just the rights and privileges the female base will face. Society as a whole needs multiple voices in the ideological room, Simmons writes. She takes more time in specifying how the differences that have led men to discriminate against women are actually assets. It’s third-wave feminism at its finest, an embracing of the female technique(s) no longer mandating some sort of reverence towards the traditionalist male’s train of thought. “Both men and women tell stories about scoring wins that offer solid evidence of tangible returns. Both tell stories about kicking (a**) and taking names. Both tell stories of being entrepreneurs producing multiple returns on investment, protecting profit, ‘killing’ the competition, or winning a power struggle in competitive settings. Both tell stories about turning a failing project around, setting tangible goals and achieving them. Most of these stories support traditional assumptions that define power as the ability to dominate and control.


But not all of them,” Simmons states in this vein. She goes to clarify, “More women than men seem to suspect their ideas about power might not fit common definitions. They ask, ‘What do you mean by power?’ I assure them I am more interested in their personal experiences of power than I am in textbook definitions. A lot of women ask, ‘Do you mean at home or at work?’ I let them choose, of course, but I suggest merging their experiences of power at home and work might uncover important insights we lose when we compartmentalize the methods and goals of one against the other…A significant number of women’s stories about power openly violate traditional assumptions about power derived from centuries of male narratives, theories, and definitions. Learning how these women’s narratives contrast with male-biased definitions of power might provide us with important clues as to which male-biased assumptions about power will need to change in order to integrate women’s perspectives into the halls of power.”


In short, Simmons writes, it’s time for a societal paradigm shift. Not only to assure female ability to succeed in a hierarchal, initially power-obsessed leveling system, but to be able to refine and redefine what terms like success, power, and opportunity mean in a post-modernist, more liberal American framework. There has been a lot of change, Simmons writes, but there is still much work to do. The length of rope continues to need to be explored, and a desirable outcome that truly pits women on an even playing field with their male counterparts must be identified. It is time to change our behavioral norms as the environment that necessitated such norms historically, she emphasizes, no longer resembles the environment men and women operate in today. In the best sense of the word, the book is woke. It really is time for us as a society to wake up, Simmons clarifying this in a manner that is fact-based, succinct, and without excess emotionality.

Cyrus Rhodes