Debut author Jackson recounts incidents of sexual harassment, revealing the generational wounds that the #MeToo movement seeks to heal.
“There are all sorts of books about accomplished corporate women who are confident, powerful, one of the boys, and for whom everything goes well,” the author writes at the beginning of this memoir. “But that was not my life.” Jackson presents painful memories of corporate America between the 1970s and 2010s. Her story begins with a traditional ’50s childhood, during which, she says, her submissive mother kept house for her engineering-professor father. “I didn’t want my mother’s life of fear, abuse, subservience, and catering to him,” she remembers. “I wanted his life—my own money, a job where I was important, away from the house.” Jackson had a desire to study biology in college—a prospect that no adults in her life encouraged, despite her 4.0 GPA—and to enter a science-related field. However, she says that as she started her career, men worked together to sabotage her—picking on her for made-up infractions, demanding sexual favors, or blaming her for their mistakes. When a higher-up decreed that he wouldn’t promote workers who didn’t have doctorates, she went back to school, only to encounter more harassment from professors, she says. Jackson goes on to share how she fought against various injustices, including age and sex discrimination. In separate sections in each chapter, she analyzes specific social and political advancements in the United States and relates them to her own life; this can feel a bit tedious as a narrative device, but it’s also useful in tracing the overall rise of feminist consciousness. References to Anita Hill’s 1991 U.S. Senate testimony and the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh emphasize the relevance of the author’s story today: “Twenty-seven years later, we were in a time warp,” she laments while reflecting on the Kavanaugh hearings. Jackson’s commiseration with younger generations of women is particularly touching when she tells of how two of her own sons were accused of sexual harassment.
An unflinching memoir that offers vital American history.