Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing (David Leser, A&U)
Following on from his article ‘Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing’, which was published in Good Weekend magazine in early 2018, journalist David Leser once again positions himself at the rhetorical intersection of the #MeToo debate. From Harvey Weinstein to the misogyny of contemporary politics, from the media’s gender pay gap exposé to Eurydice Dixon’s murder, Leser runs the gauntlet of gendered violence and inequality in an attempt to rethink masculinity beyond patriarchy. In doing so, Leser variously explores the direct negative impact that patriarchy also inflicts on men, beginning with the emotional isolation created when boys are taught to ‘man up’. Leser is a baby boomer with a candid, self-referential style and an evident willingness to ‘catch up’. He raises issues generally bracketed as feminist and makes them accessible to a diverse readership. That said, given the vast sweep of themes and the timeline covered—from ancient civilization to modern society—the discourse is ultimately restricted by cursory reportage and, at times, abrupt juxtapositions. Moreover, while Leser’s confessional anecdotes may serve to demonstrate the nuanced intricacies of gender relations, they often undermine the book’s focus and gravitas. Notwithstanding this, the book is guaranteed to inspire robust debate.
Carrie Croft is a Melbourne-based bookseller