When I started writing The Oysterville Sewing Circle, I never dreamed the topic would go viral, almost overnight. My writing and research began before the watershed moment when Ronan Farrow published his devastating expose in The New Yorker. That piece unleashed a tidal wave of #MeToo discussions among women who had endured slights, sexism, and outright abuse for years.
Looking back, we now wonder why we were silent. When confronted with those uncomfortable moments at work, at school, in public, and in our own homes, why didn’t we speak up?
What I discovered while talking with women about their experiences is that we didn’t have a vocabulary for the syndrome. A boss offering a too-affectionate shoulder-squeeze? We’d just cringe and bear it. A colleague joking about our boobs, our asses, the length of our skirts…he was just joking, right? How about the frat boy (sorry frat boys, but you know who you are) keeping your drink filled and then wrestling you to the bed? Boys will be boys. The husband or partner who lashes out with a cutting remark or a touch that hurts? He’s had a hard day. He’ll do better tomorrow. We’ve heard all the excuses and rationalizations. We’ve all been gaslighted into accepting it as “normal.”
The soul-searing lesson I learned from my conversations is something I’ve always known but rarely voiced–if it doesn’t feel normal, it’s not. If it makes you uncomfortable, it’s his fault, not yours. If it’s physically or emotionally painful, it’s wrong and probably illegal.
While writing this novel, I found my voice along with the characters in the story. If there is one takeaway I hope readers of The Oysterville Sewing Circle will carry with them, it’s the phrase emblazoned at the bottom of the book cover: We believe you. We believe in you.
Know that you’re not alone. Know that help is out there. You can reach for it, or maybe it will reach for you. My daughter and my friend Ashley, who are younger and smarter than we ever were, added their own hashtag to indicate what every woman needs: #WithYou.
I am always amazed when an author’s books touches upon something happening in the world today. While I never experience many of these thing, I being a woman I know was always paid much less then the men I worked with .. and I worked in a men’s world .. information technology. I worked for a woman boss and I know she favorited and treated the males a lot better than females. It was known through the company. I have since retired
Thank you so much for the great read .. I stayed up until 2 am finishing it. LOVE.IT
Things were tolerated because there was an imbalance of power in those cases. That is the case of almost all abuse. The prey and the predator. The predator exploits a “weakness” in his prey. The prey feels trapped because the cost of fighting seems too high to pay vs the probable outcome. The outcome is seen as risky and damaging. Especially when it is at the risk of livelihood, community, friendship, reputation, children, her very life, etc. Society makes excuses for men. They tell us to try to be better and the old “You know how they are.” Yeah, we know how they are. Thank goodness because now the cats are out of the bag and we are no longer helping men stuff them back in. Through courageous truth and deep honesty, we can help women become more aware and more conscience of what’s happening to them and around them. Thanks! I enjoyed the book. It was really good and the characters are still with me even after a week and a half and several more books read since then. I won’t forget them. Promise. Great work!!! Much love!
Thank you for this insightful comment. It’s good to be talking about this. 🙂
You are welcome!!! I agree. The more we talk about it, the better!!! <3
So thrilled that you liked the book!
I loved it! I waited and waited until it was released. I was not disappointed, needless to say!
We tolerated it for fear of being called a “prude” or accused of not having a sense of humor. As if we were the ones in the wrong.