In February 2018, the Good Weekend cover story by author and journalist David Leser, ‘Women, men and the whole damn thing’, received an extraordinary response. David gathered hundreds of personal messages from readers around the world – both women and men – urging him to expand his story. This is that book: an impassioned, unflinching account of the firestorm of #MeToo, how we got there and where we must now go.
In this incisive investigation, Leser unearths the roots of misogyny, its inextricable links to the patriarchy, and how history brought us to the #MeToo movement and the wave of incandescent female rage that is sweeping the world.
It’s an insightful text, ambitious not only in its breadth and depth, but also in what I perceive to be the central conflict at the heart of its existence: Can a man really write compassionately about the manifold injustices faced by women?
Apparently yes, they can. Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing is a thorough journalistic investigation into the roots of patriarchy and its misogynistic consequences, but where it shines is in its ability to demonstrate that men really are capable of identifying and unpacking their own privilege. It also exhibits a genuine depth of understanding of the feelings and positions of women today, from someone who, for all intents and purposes, has been watching everything unfold from over the other side of the fence. Frankly, it’s a relief.
The book takes a close look at the culture that men around the world are growing up in, this tendency towards toxic masculinity; the idea of men as superior, the burying of anything tender, empathetic and compassionate in men under a blanket of macho hardness and contempt, and how it negatively impacts the world – and especially women. It also suggests ways in which we can create a more empathetic, less violent society for everyone.
It’s a must read for everyone in this day and age, but I would suggest particularly so for men and especially young men. It’s out now with Allen & Unwin, through all the usual channels.