“I’m a young woman standing here today simply because I said it wasn’t OK, because I said that this should never happen to me or to anyone.”
Those were the words spoken by junior publicist Kristy Fraser-Kirk the day she filed a $37million lawsuit against former David Jones chief executive Mark McInnes and DJs, claiming alleged harassment.
In 2010, this was Australia’s largest sexual harassment case. Thanks to cases like this and brave women and men behind the #metoo movement, things have somewhat improved when it comes to people abusing their positions of power.
Historically, Australia could be considered a trailblazer for speaking out against inappropriate behavior in the office, we were the first country in the world to legislate against workplace sexual harassment in 1984 after all.
But the Australian Human Rights Commission’s fourth national survey on sexual harassment in the workplace (2018) tells a different story.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, reports “sexual harassment is widespread and pervasive
The timely narrative of Whisper Network strikes a chord with female readers everywhere as it echoes the shift the world has seen following the #metoo movement. It comes at a time when women are finally finding their voices, just as the book heroines Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita find theirs.
After a decade-long unspoken history of abuse and sexual misconduct at corporate giant Truviv, CEO hopeful Ames is finally caught out when Sloane decides to add his name to a “BAD Men” spreadsheet that’s circulating the office, shining a light on the whispers that have surrounded him for years.
Little did they know, Sloane Glover and her co-workers Ardie Valdez and Grace Stanton spark the start of a butterfly effect-like catastrophe when they decide to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ames and Truviv. The story begins with a haunting warning, “if only you’d listening to us, none of this would have happened”.
Not only does the author Chandler Baker grip and thrill us in her adult debut, with plot twists and teasers at the turn of every page, but she also brings to life the daily struggles of womanhood we all know too well. Whether that be juggling family-life and a career, or simply trying to be “seen” in a male-dominated corporate world. Setting the scene, the narrator recounts “we were working with less time than the men in our office… sixteen minutes to pick out an outfit. Forty-five minutes of cardio in the evening, followed by the occasional fifteen minutes of abdominal work.”
While fashion and appearance might seem like a shallow metaphor, it’s no secret women are under pressure by society to look good. What the book is proving is that women must jump three times as high as a man doing the bare minimum, just to get the same recognition.
However, the message that rings through most clearly in this pertinent feminist novel, is empowerment. In a world increasingly cluttered with headlines of Weinstein and Trump we are prompted to re-evaluate how we deal with bullying in the workplace, whether as a witness or a victim.
After the closing chapter you’ll come away feeling encouraged to speak up, stand tall, band together and really lean on the support system of the sisterhood, or rather, the Whisper Network.