Having Read "She Said" by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey

It’s easy to get me riled up: just a headline will do it. So as someone prone to quick anger, and moreso disheartened by every headline passing her screen, I just couldn’t help but be drawn in by the begrudgingly difficult and careful drama of truth-telling put forth between the pages of She Said: a heartfelt and frustrating account of not only #MeToo and the Weinstein cases, but of the prospect of journalism in an age becoming more and more defined by easy misinformation.

I can speak uncritically of my personal bias in attaching myself between the pages of this work. As both a writer and victim of sexual harassment, I felt with Twohey and Kantor as they delivered a characterization of just what it takes to fight and write about something as ethereal and silent as behind-the-doors Sexual Assault.

If you’ve experienced some such assault, you know the weight it holds.

In that way, the work itself is extremely challenging. As a reader, I felt the same frustrations and fears of the authors, as well as those they met in the course of their research. There was absolutely a small amount of book-throwing. Huffing. Walking away and feeling that anger rise up.

Always though, I was drawn back. I wanted vengeance! But in the end, and I’m grateful for it, Kantor and Twohey left me with something a little more than that. Through the trials and tribulations of good journalism, of truth-finding and critical diligence, of having to be that person, they reinvigorated and helped me reaffirm my original sense of what uncovering the truth can mean in the real world. And of course I’m saying this, but in the world of “fake news” making headlines, it was a heck of a relief to sit down and read something written so sensibly. There’s no baiting, pandering, or bullshit–in fact, the framework through which the authors bring us this so-called adventure mystery is progressive and comprehensive, shining light on the lengths that dedicated actors play in looking forward into the possible worlds of what happens when powerful people are not held accountable–and then doing something about it.

The whole “cast” of characters (if I can call them that) also made the work a place where the secrets I hold close became known, even if remotely. Certainly, there’s a theme throughout of coming forward together. And in continuing to read, I could feel myself become just a little bit less alone. I was stronger. A little bit less angry, and a little more determined as well. What was once rumour had become substantiated. I got–for all the cliche of it–the real story as it was unfolding, and it gave me a sense of power. Conviction. And if I’m being honest, validation. I can take ownership of the things that happened to me instead of allowing them to prey on my soul and weigh me down when there’s so much more I could attach myself to.

Now, of course, I’m writing this feeling strong. I’m on sort of a high from just finishing the book, thankfully borrowed from my dearest friend, and knowing I have to talk about it before it all goes away–as it’s bound to, in the coming days of angry headlines. Still, I am hoping and believing that this feeling of empowerment gained will stay with me for a little while, as I tackle my headline addiction and delve deeper into the complicated meat of the big problems I’m so prone to ignore. (You know the ones I’m talking about) Like I said: I’m invigorated. As if my capacity for asking the BIG questions (the HARD questions) has become just slightly louder. Probably screechier too, haha.

In closing, the message I must take away from the book is this:

The journey of living and embodying truth may be a rough road still-travelled, but there’s something at stake that’s perhaps larger than personal suffering in the face of blatant sleaze. Of misinformation. Of bigotry and hatred. And moreso, that there are still people out there who, as alone as they feel, are out there fighting for a cause almost too large to grasp–which is why it look so fucking messy. Yet, in all of these messes, there is something almost tangible happening to our society, a constant zeitgeist that seems to evolve us lightyears ahead to…

I’m getting away from myself. Instead, I will leave with what She Said:

“If the story was not shared, nothing would change. Problems that are not seen cannot be addressed. In our world of journalism, the story was the end, the result, the final product. But in the world at large, the emergence of new information was just the beginning–of conversation, action, change.”

Header Image Copyright Jessica Barratt