To say that I am a bookworm is an understatement. As you might expect, I’ve read quite a few books this year.
Without further adieu, my list of the best books of 2019 is below.
The Women of the 116th Congress: Portraits of Power: This book is #1 because it represents how far American women have come and how far we need to go before we are truly equal. In celebrating the success of these female politicians, the authors are paving the way for the next generation of women to represent their country.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, is sadly nothing new.
When the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal hit the press two years ago, it was nothing short of earth-shattering. After a millennia of women not being heard about sexual misconduct by their male bosses, it was revelation.
Yesterday, Weinstein sat down with several newspapers and complained about his ruined reputation.
His childlike defense was the following:
“I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker, and I’m talking about 30 years ago. I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it!” he bragged.
Cry me a river. He knew what he was doing. He knew that he was literally dangling work over their heads in return for sex. He is only crying foul because he got caught and lost everything.
I have a message for Mr. Weinstein. Grow up, grow a pair and admit what you did. An adult admits when they did something wrong. A child not only refuses to admit their error of their ways, they blame others and cast themselves as the victims. Care to guess which one Mr. Weinstein is?
When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in 2017, it did not break out of thin air. Getting the story to the public took time, effort and going against powerful people who would do almost anything to keep the story out of the news.
Ronan Farrow was one of those reporters. In his new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Farrow walks the reader through the process of reporting the story of the Weinstein scandal and the major barriers that were in his way. Back in 2017, Farrow was working for NBC. What started out as a routine investigation blew up into a news story that revealed a dark side of our culture that few were willing and/or able to expose.
Though this book is non-fiction, it reads like a spy thriller. The scary thing about this book goes well beyond what Weinstein did. The scary thing is that he had accomplishes who actively helped to bury the story. To my eyes, it says that men like Weinstein still hold all of the cards. The women he attacked and intimidated are powerless.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. There are good people in this world, like Ronan Farrow, who despite the challenges, are willing to stand up for what is right.
For decades, there were whispers within Hollywood about producer Harvey Weinstein. But as soon as reports surfaced of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they were put down as mere rumor. That is until Kantor and Twohey started digging. That digging opened a Pandora’s box of truth, lies and the people who would do almost anything to close that box again.
This book reads like a fictional thriller instead of a real story. It is a heart pounding roller coaster ride until the very end of the book. We know how the story ends, but there were so many blockages for Kantor and Twohey that I started to wonder if justice would finally prevail. When I finally finished the book, I was relieved that Weinstein was finally getting what was coming to him.
The thing that strikes me about this book and this story is that it is universal among women. The women who come forward in this book tell the same story, with minor details changed for their specific narrative. They range from Hollywood A-listers to fast food workers to teenage girls assaulted by their drunk male classmates. If nothing else, I think that this book and others of this nature are a starting point for a conversation that is more than overdue.
Ms. Hirshman starts her book in the 1970’s, when women began to talk to each other and organize against men who took advantage of their female subordinates. She then moves forward in time highlighting a number of accusations of rape and/or sexual harassment against prominent men and the women who were brave enough to go public with the accusations. The list includes the 1991 Clarence Thomas Hearings and the accusations by Anita Hill, the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton Scandal, and the multiple women claimed that Harvey Weinstein took advantage of them sexually.
Reckoning is a perfect title for this book. While telling the story of these brave and bold women, Ms. Hirshman inspires the reader to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. She also pulls no punches, calling out politicians on both sides of the aisle, women who stay silent and men who continue to perpetuate this heinous act.
Since last fall, the backlash against rich and powerful men accused of sexual assault and/or harassment has been swift and powerful. Men who thought they could get away with such acts without repercussions are finally being forced to admit to their crimes. The newest men added to this dishonorable list is CEO chairman Les Moonves and comic/podcast host Chris Hardwick.
Last week, Mr. Moonves was accused of using the casting couch to fill his sexual needs in return for work. In June, Mr. Hardwick was accused of abusing and blacklisting an ex-girlfriend.
The accusations against Mr. Moonves are still fresh. Only time will tell if he receives the same statement as Harvey Weinstein or if he is exonerated. As of this week, Mr. Hardwick has been cleared of the charges.
I feel like at this point, our collective response should not be all fire and fury. But that also depends on the severity of the charge. The response to the accusations against Aziz Ansari should not be the same response to Harvey Weinstein. But that doesn’t mean that they can get away with it.
The message should be clear. Sexual assault and harassment by both men and women will not be tolerated. Those accused of such acts and found guilty will receive a punishment that fits the crime.
Depression and mental illness is not a joke. At best, the person suffering lives as best they can. At worst, they take their own life, causing their loved ones to ask questions that can never be answered.
My heart breaks for those who knew him on a personal level, especially his young daughter and his girlfriend, Asia Argento. Ms. Argento is one of the woman who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault.
I know what it is like to live with the black dog. It sits on my lap all day, every day. If your reading this post and you also have the black dog sitting on your lap, please get help. If not for your sake, but for the ones you love.
“Mr. Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood,” he said. “Bad behavior is not on trial in this case.”
While it’s true that the casting couch has existed long before Weinstein climbed his way up the Hollywood power ladder, he certainly took advantage of it.
Karma is a b*tch, as is justice. Only time will tell if Weinstein is found guilty of the charges laid out against him.
If there is a silver lining in this case, it is that men who use their power in any industry are being sent a strong message about how they view and treat their female employees. Treat them with respect and dignity or face the consequences.
One of the myths of rape is that the victim was asking for it. She was probably wearing an outfit that was revealing and maybe she was also a little drunk.
Unfortunately, this disgusting myth has become ingrained in our overall culture. It’s an excuse that allows the rapists to get away with their crimes and blame the victims.
A woman could be wearing almost anything and be raped. She could be wearing anything from a nuns habit or a burka to the tiniest of bikinis and that wouldn’t mean damn thing to the rapist.
In short, it’s not about what she is wearing or not wearing-its about perception and power. The perception is that women are second class citizens and there to be a sex object for a man whenever he feels in the mood for sex. The power comes from the perception and his view that he is better than his victim.
Earlier in the year, as the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, designer Donna Karan defended Weinstein and blamed the victims. Respected actress Angela Lansbury made a similar statement the end of November. Both women have since rescinded their statements.
Make no mistake, there have been amazing strides in both the feminist movement and recognizing the true nature of rape and sexual assault. But for every step taken toward true equality, there are men and women (which gets my goat like few things can) who blame the victims instead of blaming the perpetrators and making it clear rape/sexual assault are wrong and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Former teen pop singer Melissa Schuman from the pop group Dream has accused Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter of raping her more than a decade ago. Carter denies the allegations. Actor Jeffrey Tambor, the star of the television series, Transparent, will be leaving the show after two women have accuse him of sexual harassment. Music mogul Russell Simmons has been accused of assaulting model Keri Claussen Khalighi when she was in her late teens while movie director Brett Ratner, who was also in the room, did nothing to stop Simmons.
Sexual assault and rape are nothing new to humanity. These heinous acts have been going on since the beginning of our species. My hope in publicizing these acts and shaming the accused is that our society will finally make a change for the better. Whether it is a movie mogul or the manager of a fast food restaurant, men in power will think twice about dangling career opportunities in front of their female employees in return for sexual favors.
Words, words, words... well said Hamlet! A little blog to go off on tangents within the worlds of history and literature that interest me. From the Tudors to Tom Hardy's Tess, or from the Wars of the Roses to Wuthering Heights, feel free to browse through my musings to pick up extra ideas and points for discussion!