Here at Facing History, we see awareness months as opportunities to deepen our knowledge of and attention to the histories and contemporary experiences of historically marginalized communities. However, the focus on celebrating these communities over one particular month can further marginalize the very experiences we are hoping to elevate. With this in mind, what follows is an invitation to engage with important themes raised by Women’s History Month this March
and throughout all of the months of the year.
The #MeToo movement entered popular consciousness in 2007 when long-time activist Tarana Burke's work gained wide currency across the United States and world. But the #MeToo movement did not come out of nowhere and the nuances are important material to teach in the classroom. Below are three new books that have been released in the last year that address the ongoing struggle of women against gender violence. These include a memoir written by Anita Hill, a memoir written by Tarana Burke, and a text that connects the U.S.-based #MeToo movement to broader and ongoing fights for women’s rights around the globe. Below is promotional text excerpted from material offered by each book’s publisher:
by Anita Hill
"In 1991, Anita Hill began something that's still unfinished work. The issues of gender violence, touching on sex, race, age, and power, are as urgent today as they were when she first testified. Believing is a story of America's three decades long reckoning with gender violence, one that offers insights into its roots, and paths to creating dialogue and substantive change. It is a call to action that offers guidance based on what this brave, committed fighter has learned from a lifetime of advocacy and her search for solutions to a problem that is still tearing America apart.
We once thought gender-based violence--from casual harassment to rape and murder--was an individual problem that affected a few; we now know it's cultural and endemic, and happens to our acquaintances, colleagues, friends and family members, and it can be physical, emotional and verbal. Women of color experience sexual harassment at higher rates than White women. Street harassment is ubiquitous and can escalate to violence. Transgender and nonbinary people are particularly vulnerable.
Anita Hill draws on her years as a teacher, legal scholar, and advocate, and on the experiences of the thousands of individuals who have told her their stories, to trace the pipeline of behavior that follows individuals from place to place: from home to school to work and back home. In measured, clear, blunt terms, she demonstrates the impact it has on every aspect of our lives, including our physical and mental wellbeing, housing stability, political participation, economy and community safety, and how our descriptive language undermines progress toward solutions. And she is uncompromising in her demands that our laws and our leaders must address the issue concretely and immediately." –Viking
"Tarana didn’t always have the courage to say "me too." As a child, she reeled from her sexual assault, believing she was responsible. Unable to confess what she thought of as her own sins for fear of shattering her family, her soul split in two. One side was the bright, intellectually curious third generation Bronxite steeped in Black literature and power, and the other was the bad, shame ridden girl who thought of herself as a vile rule breaker, not as a victim. She tucked one away, hidden behind a wall of pain and anger, which seemed to work...until it didn’t.
Tarana fought to reunite her fractured self, through organizing, pursuing justice, and finding community. In her debut memoir she shares her extensive work supporting and empowering Black and brown girls, and the devastating realization that to truly help these girls she needed to help that scared, ashamed child still in her soul. She needed to stop running and confront what had happened to her, for Heaven and Diamond and the countless other young Black women for whom she cared. They gave her the courage to embrace her power. A power which in turn she shared with the entire world. Through these young Black and brown women, Tarana found that we can only offer empathy to others if we first offer it to ourselves.
Unbound is the story of an inimitable woman’s inner strength and perseverance, all in pursuit of bringing healing to her community and the world around her, but it is also a story of possibility, of empathy, of power, and of the leader we all have inside ourselves. In sharing her path toward healing and saying "me too," Tarana reaches out a hand to help us all on our own journeys." –Flatiron Books: An Oprah Book
Awakening: #MeToo and the Global Fight for Women's Rights
by Rachel B. Vogelstein and Meighan Stone
“Since 2017, millions have joined the global movement known as #MeToo, catalyzing an unprecedented wave of women’s activism powered by technology that reaches across borders, races, religions, and economic divides. Today, women in more than 100 countries are using the hashtag to fight the violence and discrimination they face—and winning. What started as an online campaign against sexual harassment has triggered the most widespread cultural reckoning on women’s rights in history, with global implications for women’s participation in the economy, politics, and across social and cultural life.
Awakening is the first book to capture the global impact of this breakthrough movement. Bringing together political analysis and inspiring personal stories from women in seven countries—Brazil, China, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sweden, and Tunisia—Awakening takes readers to the front lines of a networked movement that’s fundamentally shifting how women organize for their own equality.” –PublicAffairs
Facing History and Ourselves invites educators to use our Teaching Idea Black Women’s Activism and the Long History Behind #MeToo in the classroom.