#MeToo: Essays About How and Why This Happened, What It Means and How to Make Sure it Never Happens Again – Lori Perkins

Before I begin, please be warned that there are potential sexual assault triggers in this book and possibly this review. If you have a #MeToo story, whether you’ve shared it or not, whether it happened yesterday or decades ago, you are stronger than you think you are and healing is possible.

#MeToo – Essays About How and Why This Happened, What it Means and How to Make Sure it Never Happens Again delivers what it promises. While I personally connected with some essays more than others, overall this book does a really good job of shedding a light on this … I don’t want to call it a movement because that implies an ending. Perhaps cultural shift is a more hopeful term?

Some of the essays were political and others were heart wrenching accounts of experiences people have survived. Written by males and females, some who’ve experienced sexual assault and some who haven’t, I appreciated the different viewpoints and the opportunity to consider opinions that differed from my own.

I think my personal favourite was the first essay, where I learned of Patricia Douglas, who in 1937 was the first woman to “publicly call out the studios”. We’ve been inundated with news items of men and women silenced for so long bravely coming forward and telling their #MeToo stories. Knowing how difficult this is for survivors today I can only imagine the courage it must have taken for Patricia Douglas to speak of this in 1937. That is one extraordinary woman!

I could go into detail about the contents of each essay, what I liked, what irritated me, what encouraged me to want to do more in this area, but what I’d really like is for you to read it yourself. Riverdale Avenue Books has committed to making this ebook available to download FOR FREE across platforms and are selling the paperback at cost, so they’re not making money from this project.

While you’re reading, please be safe if there are likely to be triggers for you and reach out for support if you need to, but also:

  • Think about the issues (painful as they are).
  • Consider what you personally have the power to do to make sure we’re not talking about this time in history as a movement that could have been the catalyst for lasting change, if only …

One of the things I love about #MeToo is that people who have been living in silence are finding their voices. Survivors are finding the support they deserve and I hope they’re accessing services that can help them navigate healing.

I could tell you my #MeToo story but I think I’ll give you a lesson in your response when someone tells you their #Metoo story. Believe me when I say that your response, especially if you’re the first person they’ve told, can make all the difference.

Now, some of these are outrageous in their insensitivity whereas others are more subtly damaging but I’ve heard every one. Please don’t say any of these to a survivor.

  • “What did you do to make him think he could?” – a friend
  • “What were you wearing?” – a friend
  • “He was only being affectionate.” – his wife
  • “How many seconds/minutes did it happen for?” – teacher in charge of student welfare, said in the context of if it didn’t last long enough it didn’t count
  • “He told me what happened and he said that he didn’t mean to. It was an accident.” – his wife
  • “Did you enjoy having sex with him? Is that why you didn’t tell earlier?” – a friend’s mother who worked as a nurse who primarily cared for abused children
  • “Are you sure he did that?” – a friend
  • “It couldn’t have possibly happened the way you described.” – the detective investigating my case
  • “He told us what you said about him. You embarrassed us and we didn’t know what to say. He was really quite mad about it.” – friends
  • “Are you sure it was him? Maybe it was someone else and you’re only saying it was him because you don’t want to tell me who it really was.” – teacher in charge of student welfare
  • “You’re saying it happened the second time you saw him? That never happens! Why didn’t he do it the first time you met?” – the detective investigating my case
  • “You can’t tell your friends about this. They’re not old enough to be able to handle it.” – teacher in charge of student welfare
  • “The Royal Commission is unable to investigate individual matters.” – Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • “He’s going through a difficult divorce, he’s an alcoholic and he has two children, one a girl a few years older than you. This would make his life even more difficult.” – teacher in charge of student welfare, who thought if I felt sorry for her friend I’d shut up
  • “I can’t see you anymore. I can’t talk to you about any assault other than the one you were referred to us for.” – sexual assault counsellor
  • “You’re the only one who’s made a complaint about him so far. Unless someone else makes a complaint there’s nothing we can do.” – the detective investigating my case

It’s pretty complicated coming up with dodgy reasons to shut someone up, isn’t it? Want to know what you can say that will help someone who has trusted you with their #MeToo story?

  • I believe you
  • It was not your fault
  • You are not alone

Simple, huh?!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Riverdale Avenue Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

More than 16 million people had posted their #MeToo story and support against sexual harassment by mid-October as a reaction to Rose McGowan’s brave admission that she had allegedly been raped by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. A groundswell of reaction to and exposure of this sexual predation was unleashed that has spread throughout Europe and beyond. New revelations of unacceptable behavior in every industry break every day as people come forward in response to the viral #MeToo posts. Protests are scheduled such as the “Take back the Workplace” Hollywood march in November of 2017, and legislation is being drafted in New York and California to finally change the way things have been for far too long.

This is the turning point. Things are going to change.

This is a historic moment and it needs to be memorialised, passed around and passed on. Although social media is a fantastic means of igniting a fire, it needs to keep burning, like a torch.

So Riverdale Avenue Books, a woman-owned leading hybrid publisher, is putting its money, words and power, behind this and publishing this collection of 26 essays from people who understand want to make this change, and we, as a society, have got to figure out a way to drive that change forward.

So pass this book around. Share it with your sons, brothers, fathers, your daughters, sisters and mothers, your co-workers and friends. Read passages to them, if they won’t read it for themselves. Leave it on the desk of someone who should know better. 

Help us make this movement more than a hashtag.

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