SOCIAL SCIENCES

Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment

Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2019. 336p. notes. index. ISBN 9781328566447. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781328566751. SOC SCI
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Hirshman (Sisters in Law) chronicles key events during a 50-year time span, from the time the phrase “sexual harassment” was coined in the 1970s and the 1980s workplace harassment cases of Paulette Barnes and Mechelle Vinson to the downfall of Harvey Weinstein and the rise of #MeToo. The author has an acute understanding of the intersections of sexual harassment and abuse, legal and political influence, and feminism, with sharp observations and sharper words for the people and politics, including liberal politics, who failed victims of harassment while giving leeway to perpetrators. While not every aspect of the book is given the same intersectional nuance—an early section lauds radical feminist Catharine MacKinnon’s antipornography stance with no mention that the Canadian implementation of a MacKinnon-style ordinance resulted in years of difficulties for that country’s LGBT communities—its critical eye and its highlighting of key roles played by women of color in the fight against abusers and harassers make it a valuable addition to the current literature on the topic.
VERDICT An intense, harsh view of a long struggle; well worth a look for anyone curious about where #MeToo came from

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