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

I came across this book on actress Hayley Atwell’s Instagram account and decided to pick it up. Boy, I couldn’t put it down. The book is about the three year journey of two reporters: Jodi and Megan, who spent hours and hours investigating, cross-checking and writing about the sexual harassments by powerful men towards women.

Reading the book, I came to know the challenges and difficulties the victims of sexual harassments had to encounter whether they came forward. If they don’t, they have to live with their nightmares for the rest of their lives and watch the culprits go unpunished. If they do, they have to face death threats, disruption into their job, life and their family’s.

Over a long dinner, she made clear why she was so scared to travel to Washington. Her family had been forced to hire twenty-four-hour private security. It was uncertain when it would be safe for them to return home. Ford had already experienced enough disruption and danger.

She pressed Play on her phone at the dinner table. “You lying fucking cunt!” came a voice from her phone. The lawyer told Ford she was right to be frightened by the messages and encouraged her to share them with the FBI. “You’ve got three months” another voice said. Others repeated similar phrases and sounded like they might have come from the same voice-altering machine, making her think they were somehow coordinated. “Don’t be messing with my boy, Brett”. “Don’t be messing with my boy, Trump”

I have been so baffled and stunned by the length by which people are willing to go for something that is not related to them personally at all. How can you threaten a stranger’s life for something that is not related to you?

It’s also inconceivable to read what powerful men like Harvey Weinstein could get away. Non-disclosure agreements were signed, inflicting acute restrictions on the victims who, in some cases, didn’t even have the copies of the NDAs. Here is an excerpt on Harvey Weinstein’s behavior

Each morning, Perkins, or whichever assistant from the London office was on the early shift, had to rouse the partially or fully nude Weinstein out of bed in his hotel room, and turn on his shower, as if he could not rotate the handle himself. Sometimes Weinstein tried to pull Perkins into bed with him, she recalled

Last but not least, I appreciate and admire the tenacity of the authors, their colleagues and editors for pursuing the stories despite the intimidation, intricacies and difficulties. At one point, the story was going to collapse since evidence was exceedingly hard to secure while there was no victim going on the record. Massive massive appreciation towards Ashley Judd and Laura Madden for taking the leap of faith to be the first women to go on record, paving the way for many others.

It’s sad and disappointing to see that despite advances in so many areas, we, as a race, still have sexual harassments all around the world. I am sure what is covered in the book is just the tip of the iceberg.

California’s attempt to increase diversity in the boardroom

California may reportedly be the first state in the country that requires a publicly listed company to have female members in its Board of Directors to a certain extent. The bill, if passed, is aimed to improve the gender diversity as women are absent at the board level of 25% of the public traded companies. While the move may have a good intention, I doubt that it’s necessary.

Gender equality has received a tsunami of attention in the past couple of years with the #Metoo and feminism movements. Speaking of businesses alone, we have a lot of female leaders in various industries nowadays such as Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi, Diane Greene, Stephanie McMahon, Dhivya Suryadevara – the new 39-year-old CFO of GM or the first ever black female CEO of BP, stationed in South Africa, – Priscillah Mabelane, just to name a few. Then we have Angela Merkel or Michelle Obama in politics, Serena Williams in sports or Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys in entertainment, just a few examples. The best way to ensure the gender equality, in my opinion, is to treat each gender equally, keep the narrative going to avoid complacency and return to the status quo, and encourage girls or female professionals that they can achieve the same as their male counterparts without the relying on social pressure. Those wonderful female leaders, among so many others around the world, should give them hope and inspiration.

The bill by California’s government may create backlash as companies may argue that a female candidate is only chosen over a male peer simply to avoid a regulatory fine. In reality, an appointment decision varies from one case to another. Nonetheless, the bill, if passed, may unnecessarily leave a taint on a female’s appointment.

The gender scale should be balanced, on its own. Sure, it has been tipped to one side for far too long (I personally benefited from the inequality), but it’s a good thing that things are naturally heading towards equilibrium. Forcefully tipping the scale to the other side in the name of equality may not be any different from the male dominance in the past. In other words, how would a female professional feel if she was hired only because of the law and not because of her qualifications? Personally, I believe that fairness trumps unnecessary partiality.

Females are more empowered than ever. Unfortunately, there are still industries and companies with gender inequality, but the tide will go against them soon. I believe that those companies will soon realize that they cannot afford the inequality anymore and that gender equality is for their own good.