Emotional Health

The Journalistic Heroines of She Said :
How They Got the Story

The women who went on record, having established a firm foothold beyond this real-life Games of Thrones, had begun already to feel more grounded by reclaiming some of their identity for themselves. Their lost agency was somewhat restored by a new sense of empowerment.

The other victims were quickly empowered by the bold reporting of the two authors, and the solidarity they discovered in banding together with the many victims who subsequently went on record.

One of the most interesting parts of the book involves the case of Ford vs. Kavanaugh, that is, the testimony presented during the judge’s confirmation hearings from a woman who says he sexually assaulted her as a teenager. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a shy and self-effacing academic psychologist with impeccable credentials, overcame great trepidation, agoraphobia, and a fear of flying to testify at the Senate hearing. Having learned their lesson (somewhat) from the Anita Hill debacle, individual Senators tread lightly with her, passing off their questions to a woman prosecutor instead. Much political maneuvering ensued, and ultimately the judge was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Kantor and Twohey do follow up interviews with Dr. Ford, assessing the costs to her and her family of having come forward. Ultimately, she felt it was her civic duty to report her experiences, and she does not regret her actions in spite of the consequences. The controversy has just been reignited, in fact, in a new book (The Education Of Bret Kavanaugh) that contains other reports of Kavanaugh’s pattern of abuse, as well as possible mishandling of this information by the FBI and others.

Finally, the reporters bring together many, though not all, of the women, including Ford, for a series of interviews at Paltrow’s Los Angeles mansion. As exquisite Japanese food is served by the fire, the victims weigh in on their personal experiences of not just the abuse, but also the road to speaking up.

An entire international movement, #MeToo, was created by these reporters’ work and the solidarity that woman have found by joining their voices together. Like Woodward and Bernstein’s All the President’s Men (made into a wonderful movie by Alan J. Pakula), and the more recent Spotlight, which documents the Boston Globe reporting that exposed systematic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, She Said is a record of the power of the press to do good. As in the former, when Nixon’s powerful allies fell like dominoes, in the aftermath of the original Times story, a great many other abusers of women (and men, such as actor Kevin Spacey) were brought down. Though it took several years, ultimately Woodward and Bernstein’s groundbreaking work led to the downfall of a president. Perhaps that will happen again. As Kantor and Twohey tell us, this is just the beginning.

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