39 pages 1 hour read

Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey

She Said

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2019

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

She Said is a nonfiction gender studies text published in 2019. It expands on the investigative journalism of two reporters for The New York Times, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, whose 2017 reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein became a flash point in the #MeToo movement. In She Said, Kantor and Twohey provide insight into the investigative process while also situating their work within the broader context of gender equality and sexual harassment and assault.

Summary

This work of nonfiction recounts the 2017 investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey uncovered a long history of Weinstein’s transgressions targeting both actors and women employed at his two production companies, Miramax and the Weinstein Company. Weinstein’s abuses spanned decades and targeted women employed in offices across the United States and abroad. His behavior created a culture of fear and retaliation at both companies. Other employees, his business partner and brother Bob Weinstein, and members of the Weinstein Company’s board of directors covered up his crimes and enabled his offenses. Weinstein’s victims included both famous actors like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashely Judd and previously low-profile Miramax employees like Laura Madden and Zelda Perkins.

The Times’s investigation began after actor Rose McGowen tweeted about her sexual assault at the hands of a Hollywood movie mogul. As the reporters worked to find evidence against Weinstein, they encountered a wall of silence. Victims feared speaking up or were prevented from doing so by settlement nondisclosure agreements. When Kantor and Twohey heard specifics, they discovered Weinstein’s pattern of predatory behavior, which included inviting women to hotel rooms under the guise of professional meetings, harassing or assaulting them, and forcing many into settlement agreements.

As the investigation advanced, Weinstein and his team of attorneys and public relations specialists attempted to subvert and stop the reporting, even threatening legal action against the journalists. Nevertheless, the wall of silence came tumbling down as the reporters obtained written, financial, and legal evidence of Weinstein’s abuses and as victims spoke with Kantor and Twohey on the record. After Kantor and Twohey published their articles in the fall of 2017, more women came forth with their own stories about Weinstein, while others spoke up about workplace abuse as part of the broader #MeToo movement.

The book then moves beyond Kantor and Twohey’s reporting on Weinstein to consider Christine Blasey Ford’s story. In 2018, Ford alleged that Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s. Ford went on to publicly testify about her experience before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Though she faced significant backlash, she also had many supporters, and her televised testimony contributed to a larger national conversation about sexual assault.

At the end of the book, Kantor and Twohey recount how they brought together many of the women on whom they’d reported for an interview and conversation about their experiences. Though the book shows that significant progress has occurred in preventing and stopping sexual harassment, mechanisms that silence and punish victims persist, and there is much work to be done to make workplaces and the world safe for women.

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