Her Campus Aberdeen’s overall rating: 6.5/10
Way back in April, the HCAU Book Club read She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, which we voted as April’s book club pick. However, due to a mixture of dissertation stress and an overload of university assigned reading, I am only getting round to writing this article detailing our thoughts now.
For those who don’t know, She Said encompasses the story of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment charges. It is narrated by the two journalists who made it their goal to take him down, and relays the struggle of retrieving testimony from sexual harassment victims in a world where what he said is more likely to gain traction than what she said. As such, it uncovers the ominous truth about secret settlements designed to muzzle women and uphold the reputation of dangerous men.
As I’m sure you can imagine, we had a lot to say upon finishing this book. As Iona made perfectly clear, this book is massively important and feeds directly into the #MeToo movement, so we give the book our biggest praises on that note. Furthermore, Iona admitted that she assumed the book would mainly centre on Megan and Jodi, but this was surprisingly not the case. The book presented a whole host of important faces within the investigation and made it abundantly clear that the whole shindig could not have reached the point it did without the team behind the scenes. Not only do readers get to know Megan and Jodi’s role in great detail, but we also learn the other, often overlooked, roles of the people around them that we don’t usually get an insight into. Iona also appreciated that the book took an equal focus on the people surrounding Weinstein, supporting his actions and burying his behaviour beneath the rug in order to preserve his power in the industry, a focus proving to be pretty alarming.
That being said, Ellen found that the entire book was very Americanised and failed to recognise the global issue with men in power. However, as the investigation mainly took place in America and dealt with sexual harassment in Hollywood for the first half of the book, Ellen thought it made sense for Jodi and Megan to hone in on the problem in America in particular, but further recognition of the issue as a global topic was perhaps missing at times. This brings us on to the second half of the book, which went in a rather different direction to discuss the Brett Kavanaugh investigation the two journalists were similarly involved in. Collectively, we didn’t quite understand this part of the book and its place, but after chatting about it I thought the second half worked to exemplify the title of the book – She Said. The Kavanaugh investigation made it extremely clear that a lack of evidence (which is so hard to retrieve in a sexual harassment case) often leads to a battle of the harasser’s word against the victim’s, as was the case between Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. While the Weinstein case concluded with justice for his victims, most cases do not, and the Kavanaugh case is one of them.
She Said ends with a section titled ‘Epilogue’. This portion wraps up the narrative by relaying a very private event in which all the women who gave testimonies to Megan and Jodi were brought together to share their experience. I, personally, liked this additional part in the book as a closing statement. However, I found myself wishing there had been more of a follow-up for the women who came forward – something more than simply their appearance at a gathering orchestrated by the two journalists. Where were they now? How did the Weinstein/Kavanaugh investigation affect their lives? Did they have any regrets? Iona felt similarly and agreed the epilogue ties things together nicely, but perhaps should not have been given the title of ‘Epilogue’ as some questions were still left unanswered which would have been interesting to hear.
All in all, the HCAU Book Club enjoyed this delve into the Weinstein investigation and learned a lot from it. We felt it encouraged the questioning of other similar men in power whilst also drawing our attention to the sad and jarring fact that sexual harassment is not always brought to public attention, most of it being covered over by cruel settlements which keep powerful and dangerous men in their positions of ultimate power. While we all agreed that there were a few structural and focus issues, these were minor compared with the magnitude of the story being told. She Said is a recommended read if you are interested in learning more about the Weinstein scandal and, more importantly, the behind-the-scenes activities which uncovered it. The ending may leave you feeling slightly frustrated, and the second half may leave you slightly confused, but it is nonetheless worth a read!