MeToo: Stories From The Australian Movement - Book Review
“#MeToo: Stories From the Australian Movement” is the must-read, women tell-declaration against sexual exploitation every woman should own. This powerful collection, edited by Natalie Kon-Yu, Christie Nieman, Maggie Scott, and Miriam Sved offers a variety of articulate and gripping accounts of sexual abuse against women. Ranging from short stories to poems, “#MeToo” effortlessly blends the voices of multicultural Australian women from numerous walks of life.
Image Description: Image of the front cover of "#MeToo: Stories from the Australian Movement." The background is a pale cream color. At the top of the image the words "Stories from the Australian Movement" are written in bold, black lettering. Beneath this, there is a quote from Tracey Spicer in smaller black lettering which reads "An extremely important anthology." Along the right side, written from the bottom to the top, are the names of the editors in purple, bold lettering. The rest of the cover is taken up by the word #MeToo in large, bold, all capital letters. Each letter is outlined in all the colors of the rainbow. Image Source: https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781760785000/
In this compilation, mothers, business executives, sports sensations and models sing a song of resistance against unjust acts of sexual misconduct like an estrogen-charged missile. The work presents readers a rich variety of works, including Eleanor Jackson’s ‘On Not Taking to Germaine Greer’, Liz Hall-Downs’ poem ‘safe’ and Nicole Hayes’ personal essay ‘My Place’. These works illustrate how social exclusion and female exploitation occur across many cultural backgrounds in Australia.
When reflecting on the accounts in this literary work, the efforts of writer and editor Natalie Kon-Yu were a definite highlight. Kon-Yu’s personal reflection ‘The Beheld’ demonstrates the toxic actions an individual can take due to micro-aggressive moments of gender discrimination. This account’s potency stems from the succinct and potent nature of Kon-Yu’s writing style. By vividly describing moments where she felt objectified by commentary on her appearance and was rendered nothing more than a mere spectacle, Kon-Yu successfully recreates the all too relatable experience of commentary distorting perceptions of the self.
This visceral account goes to great lengths to describe the feelings an individual experiences when faced with issues similar to body dysmorphia and anorexia. It also highlights the moments that sparked and perpetuated such harmful behaviour. This chapter sheds light on how beauty standards, unwarranted comments and constant critiques of women’s physical form results in them feeling pressure to wage war against their natural form to fit a predetermined unforgiving mould. The intensely personal account demonstrates the power of vulnerability, which is what makes this particular excerpt especially commendable.
Alongside Kung-Yu’s piece, Eugenia Flynn’s chapter ‘This Place’ is another exceptional part of this collection. Flynn’s work shows how minorities such as Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are susceptible to discrimination because of the white patriarchal powers which dominate core Australian Institutions. This chapter unpacks the systemic ways Aboriginal women have been abused. Additionally, Flynn demonstrates the consequences of one culture imposing their perspectives on another, without consideration of the other culture's own perspectives.
By touching on discriminatory experiences specifically impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, this chapter provides valuable insight into discrimination many readers of would never experience. By questioning white patriarchy as well as white feminism, Flynn sheds light on a relevant, compelling and distinctly Australian aspect of the MeToo movement that should be discussed more.
The blend of different genres in this collection is not the only positive aspect of this work. Another great part of this piece is the remediation of a discussion popularised and perpetuated online. Through this act of remediation, the reader is given the luxury of access to accounts of Australian women without having to engage in lengthy and draining conversations. By changing the traditional way people interact with the contentious social media sweep of the MeToo movement, we can observe the issues at a slower rate that allows for easier processing.
Image Description: Photo of a collage laid out on what appears to be a paper mache background. The collage is made up of individual letters cut out from magazines. It reads #MeToo.
In an era plagued by media and feverish discourse regarding whatever is trending, it is vital to take a more in-depth look at issues. “#MeToo” creates space for a wide array of accounts regarding sexual abuse without the back and forth discourse seen on social media. In this way, we’re given unapologetically beautiful content. "#MeToo: Stories from the Australian Movement" successfully captures the manner in which the #MeToo movement impacted Australian women from all walks of life in distinct yet related ways.
By: Liliana Occhiuto
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