The following is my book review (on Goodreads) of Gretchen Carlson’s book: Be Fierce: Stop harrassment and take your power back. I recommend it.
This book found me at the exact moment when I needed it. I had just left a job due to egregious gender discrimination, the Harvey Weinstien scandal was in the future, and the #MeToo movement had not yet exploded. Be Fierce helped validate my own experiences, and my reaction to them; experiences that reflected a culture of hostility to women in that particular workplace.
While not a victim of sexual harrassment at work, I identified with the experience of being shamed and bullied based on non-conformance to misogynistic gender-based behavior norms. I particularly identified with the following excerpt relating to how women are subject to tone policing:
“Ah yes, ‘Tone”. I’ve heard this most of my life, as women do. We twist ourselves into pretzels to appear both warm and friendly and tough and competitive, and it can be a strain. How many of us have had the experience of ‘forgetting’ to smile because we’re concentrating on doing our work, only to be called an ‘ice queen’.”
Ms. Carlson provides a compelling case that social media provides a bully pulpit for those who viciously degrade women. Women are routinely shamed, called vulgar names and threatened with violence if they dare to voice an opinion, share photos, or simply try to co-exist in the cyber community. Cyberbullying is a serious issue that silences many girls and women who learn quickly that cyberspace is not safe for them.
Ms. Carlson addresses many myths, including the oldest ploy in the book: Victim blaming: “We must reject the myth that women encourage harassment through their dress and demeanor, and place the focus on those doing the harassing.”
Women are doubly victimized, when they experience retaliation for reporting harassing behavior. This book includes many heart-breaking stories of brave women whose careers were destroyed when they spoke up about their sexual harassment. These stories are particularly of interest now that the dam of denial has been cracked; At long last, some women are being heard and believed, and some of the harassers are finally being held accountable. It is a start.
I recommend this book – particularly to anyone who believes that the current #MeToo movement overstates the problem. If you know someone who believes that harassment is not common; suggest that they talk to their mother, their wife, their daughters, their sisters about their experiences. And then listen to what they have to say. We all need to listen, to believe, and to change.