Another thrift store find. My copy is missing the dust jacket, and its pages are stained by an unknown substance on the bottom of the book, but I’m not gonna complain too much for $2.99. I recognized the author, yet I cannot recall with certainty whether I read her most well-known work, Speak, or not. I have this nagging suspicion that I have read something by her, but I can’t place for sure what. Regardless, I picked up Shout because of that familiarity and my never-ending thirst for my own tears suckered me in instantly upon reading the introduction: “Finding my courage to speak up twenty-five years after I was raped, writing Speak, and talking with countless survivors of sexual violence made me who I am today. This book shows how that happened.”
Whereas my fiance shies away from anything that might make her cry, I seek out anything that might make this big bear feel things. It’s getting easier as I grow older, but it’s still a testament to the power of something if it gets through to me. Or, you know, it might just be I’m having a bad day, like some of the movies I watched right after getting dumped. So I’m that masochist that has movies like Dear Zachary and When the Wind Blows in his Top 10.
Though I also seek some of these things out to get a deeper understanding of things that are outside of me, like the female experience. The more stories like Anderson’s I see, the more blindingly obvious it becomes that these aren’t outliers. This is the world that we live in, and it’s in dire need of a massive shift in attitude and the way we act. Because it’s not just the rape mentioned in that introduction, it’s the numerous unwanted advances, the sexual harassment, the sexual assault that have littered her life and the lives of so many of the women that her work has touched.
But it’s been, remains, and seemingly will always be an uphill battle, as evidenced by the examples she gives of the pushback she herself got for her own book. Librarians both praising her work and refusing to have it in their library. Principals canceling appearances at their schools because sex and violence and rape don’t happen at their school. Etc. Or the case she was sitting on the jury for where the woman who had been raped was harassed to the point of tears on the witness stand, the lawyer for the defendant trotting out “excuse” after “excuse” for why her rape was not a rape, a story we’ve seen play out more times than we can count.
Shout does just that, it shouts, shouts about Anderson’s own experiences, shouts about the problems with how women are treated in our society, shouts about the pushback people get trying to talk or do anything about it, etc. Please, read it, so Anderson isn’t shouting into the void. I cannot recommend it enough.