Book Review – She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

Image result for She Said Book Cover“She Said,” by Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, has deservedly received a lot of media attention.  Read the book (or, at least the first half).  It’s a page turner, with a step-by-step look at the reporters’ investigation of Harvey Weinstein.  It’s devastating.  Weinstein stands accused of being a monster, of course; what he did to women is significantly beyond any harassment investigations I’ve ever seen.  In fact, his actions are less sexual harassment and more sadistic pathological power trip.  Yet he’s not the only villain: Gloria Allred and Lisa Bloom, two ostensibly feminist attorneys, are described as complicit in the coverups.

But what is most significant, and what I learned more importantly, is why women are reluctant to come forward.  Major A-list actresses legitimately feared for their careers; other ‘less important’ figures either left the entertainment business entirely or were relegated to entertainment oblivion.  It won’t be as easy for people to say, “if it really happened, why didn’t they report it right away?” In future harassment situations.

The second half of the book evolves into a look at the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, largely from the side of his principal accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.  It candidly doesn’t pack the spellbinding tale nor the evil monster that the first half does.

Yet the perspective and importance of this book goes beyond a tale of Harvey.  There’s a lot to be learned about harassment other than that story.  For those of us who aren’t in the entertainment business, but are in the leadership business, here’s a money quote:

In each industry, harassment had its own particular sociology.  In restaurants, liquor was omnipresent at the workplace, eroding judgment and loosening inhibtions, and managers were often loath to confront customers who got out of line.  Silicon Valley was filled with young men who got rich overnight and felt accountable to no one.  In shipyards, construction sites, and other traditionally male workplaces, men sometimes tried to drive out women by putting them in physical danger.  Chris had head of one woman who had been left deep in a mine without any communication device, and another had been stranded atop a wind turbine.

This is very much like the harassment allegations we see in our practice at RSJ/Swenson.  Everyone is unique, yet each industry has similarities.

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