If what you know of the #MeToo movement is mainly stories from white Hollywood celebrities, you’re not alone. What most people don’t know, is that it was started by Tarana Burke, a woman of colour, in 2006. And that’s just the beginning. #MeToo: Stories from the Australian movement, is an anthology featuring personal stories, essays, poetry and even a graphic narrative from 35 brave Australian women. Edited by Natalie Kon-yu, Christie Nieman, Maggie Scott and Miriam Sved, this book explores the many ways women experience these issues, and how they came to deal with them.
Ginger Gorman mentions in her essay the misogynistic fear of ‘women taking up space’. The stories shared in this book do just that and more. In fact, this is a book that warrants space far beyond that of the pages between the covers. Expect detailed entries on sexual harassment and assault, domestic violence, rape culture, sex workers, trolling, fairy tales, and racial and gendered violence. Expect stories that take place in our workplaces, our homes and our hospitals; in the music industry, in the AFL, in our cities and our rural areas. The ‘whitewashing’ of the #MeToo movement is also actively discussed and criticised in this anthology and is further benefited by the contributions from multiple women of colour. Proving yet again that these incidents are not isolated or uncommon. That they are everywhere. I hope, as the editors do, that this is a part of a ‘mass readjustment’ in our culture.
Further proving the importance of these stories was a reaction I had from a male passenger on a recent flight to Melbourne. Upon seeing the cover of the book, he turned to his girlfriend, nudged her and made a face that suggested ‘oh, she’s one of those’. I looked away before I saw her reaction; and if she said anything, I didn’t hear it. I wonder what would have happened instead, if he had chosen to have a conversation with her about whether she had a story of her own. The statistics in this book would suggest she does.
There were often moments where I had to put this book down, to really take in the enormity of the issues the movement is fighting against. It is not hard to read, but it is confronting.It is undeniably a story that will stay with the reader long after the final pages have been read.
“This book is for the people who have been brave enough to share their stories, and for the ones that never will. It is for anyone involved in the movement, and those who know nothing about it. This is for all women. For all men. This book is for everyone.”
It is an important contribution to a much larger discussion and highlights the importance that women should be able to tell their stories, in any way that they want to. In the words of the editors, I ‘hope that each story, in its own way, will make clear once and for all the lines that have been crossed and should not be crossed again.’
Review by Shannon Grey
#MeToo: Stories from the Australian movement is edited by Natalie Kon-yu, Christie Nieman, Maggie Scott and Miriam Sved and available in all good book stores.