REVIEW: Annette Simmons — Drinking From a Different Well (BOOK)

Annette Simmons’ new book, Drinking From a Different Well: How Women’s Stories Change What Power Means in Action, is a love letter to women. Both spiritually and altruistically, and to what she perceives as the genuine capability of the female perspective tempering the male’s on an even, pragmatic playing field.


The master of the multitask is a common proverbial synonym to the female mindset, and as far as Simmons is concerned — complete with the overall argument for a more just world between the sexes — it’s long overdue given the tectonic shifts of the current sociopolitical landscapes, and the progress the world has made in the last fifty years. This is particularly emphasized in passages she writes focusing on the concept of power through both a distinctly male, and female, gaze. “The most obvious difference I found between men’s and women’s stories about power was that men almost always reported external evidence to explain what power achieved: profit, awards, staff size, and other measurable wins. Now for the most part, women also report external evidence of their power, but a significant number of women substitute their own internal criteria that places relational or moral wins as being equally important as economic or competitive wins.


For these women the power to achieve a moral ‘win’ eclipses the value of more tangible economic wins,” she states. “…At least a third of the women interviewed took time to explain that their personal definition of power was different from ‘the way that people usually explain it.’ Some women even confess that they hate the word power. It makes sense that women who feel oppressed by male theories of power might feel conflicted about the word…Many women felt compelled to name and reject definitions of power that focus on ‘influence and money and important jobs,’ or were set up to ‘control other people.’ When getting ‘arrested at a protest’ against racial discrimination is categorized as more powerful than ‘wearing a suit at a boardroom table,’ it’s pretty obvious that a decent number of women judge power as good or bad. They are rejecting a core assumption that power is essentially neutral, neither good nor bad, that power is amoral — something that can be used for good or bad, but is not inherently either.”

It’s this emphasizing of the unique female strengths that makes Simmons’ book, regardless of your ideology, positions, or biases, extremely powerful as an objective literary experience. In a world where the opposing team can try to silence progressive issues by accusatory statements, i.e. ‘cramming’ so-called ‘propaganda’ down folks’ throats, Simmons is smart to stand by her sentiments but never at the expense of detailed, factual and statistical evidence.


But what continues to impress me as a reader is her ability, merely through articulating the truth and nothing but the truth, to flip arguments made against women entirely in their favor. There’s never any need for justification, or over-clarification. She simply says what she means, and has all of the literary firepower and genuine knowledge to back it up.

Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer

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Colin Jordan

Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer

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