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Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing

David Leser

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Allen & Unwin
05 August 2019
One of the most talked-about and widely praised articles of our time becomes the water-cooler book of the #MeToo era.

'How to find the right words to frame this horror? How to understand why men do what they do to women? How to comprehend this malign force that seems to seep from the male psyche and infect us all? . . . That is the central hope, the appeal, embedded in this book: that other men might join me in this investigation and ruthless self-interrogation-and in doing so, become part of the change that is so urgently required.'
David Leser

In February 2018, the Good Weekend cover story by David Leser, 'Women, men and the whole damn thing', had an extraordinary response. David received hundreds of personal messages from readers around the world - both women and men - urging him to expand his story. Here is that book: a brilliant, impassioned, unflinching account of the firestorm of #MeToo, how we got there and where we must now go.

In this essential and incisive investigation, Leser unearths the roots of misogyny, its inextricable links to the patriarchy, and how history brought us to the #MeToo movement and the wave of incandescent female rage that is sweeping the world. Crucially, he also interrogates his own psyche, privilege and culpability as he bears witness to the 'collective wound of the world' and asks how we can move towards healing and profound and permanent change.
By:  
Imprint:   Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 233mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   410g
ISBN:   9781760877729
ISBN 10:   1760877727
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing

'I started reading this book with my heart in my mouth and finished it with a sense of profound relief. At last, a man has listened and understood. David Leser has taken women, their lives, their pain, their fears and their desires as seriously as he takes his own. It is all we ask.' - JANE CARO, author of Accidental Feminists 'One of our finest longform journalists-certainly our deepest-divesinto the treacherous waters of #MeToo (and then some) and emerges with something so timely, connecting and regularly sublime that it feels like it was written as much for me and my mates as it was for my daughters. Resolutely human. Utterly essential. Wholly unputdownable.' - TRENT DALTON, author of Boy Swallows Universe 'It takes courage-arguably even folly-for a man to explore and interrogate #MeToo. The brilliance of David Leser though, is he never forgets to interrogate himself either. Instead of avoiding the complications, nuances and contradictions of a seismic cultural moment, Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing leans into them. This clarifying and precise book will leave everyone - but especially fellow men - deeply uncomfortable with the questions posed, and the destabilising answers reached. I want to hire a plane and airdrop this book onto footy ovals, boardrooms, electoral offices and boys' schools.' - BENJAMIN LAW, author of The Family Law 'Staggering in its range and depth. Leser sets out the whole horror story, the shocking scale of centuries of violence to women and girls. But he offers real hope at the same time...A landmark book.' STEVE BIDDULPH, psychologist and author of Raising Boys in the Twenty-first Century 'David Leser has for years been one of Australia's finest long-form journalists, and here he takes on one of the most important subjects of our time. What begins as an examination of the global #MeToo movement turns into a poignant, sometimes personal and often horrifying deep dive into past and present masculinity and the mess of human relations that's left in its wake. In grappling with these monumental themes, Leser is at one point advised by writer Helen Garner to just humbly approach the mountain and go up it . Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing does reach a summit in this ever-fluid, ongoing debate, and the view it offers forces you to rethink almost everything you thought you knew about female/male relationships, and plants a flag of hope for the future.' - MATTHEW CONDON, author of Three Crooked Kings 'Brilliantly argued, fiercely lucid, there won't be a more vital book this decade. Nor one to be more widely read, argued with, felt - and comprehended. Leser captures our need to wake up finally to the most ancient harming of all: men's conditioned and often dangerously aggressive attitudes towards women-and themselves. Pushing boundaries or leaping them, Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing illuminates changes every bit as urgent as rescuing the planet-which is utterly interdependent with them.' - STEPHANIE DOWRICK, author of Intimacy and Solitude and Seeking the Sacred 'David isn't an ideologue finding evidence to support a conclusion he's already arrived at. As ever he's a fearless searcher after the truth in a complex situation. He's horrified as he unearths the grim statistics of male violence and mistreatment of women, but at the same time concerned that #MeToo can tip over into lynch mob mentality, condemning lesser crimes with the same ferocity as greater ones. But his final verdict is unequivocal. #MeToo is a necessary clarion call that male/female relationships need urgent restructuring, not just for the good of women, but to benefit us all.' - DAVID WILLIAMSON, playwright 'As we agonise over the breadth and complexity of the volcanic eruption captured by the #MeToo movement, David Leser has given us a gift - the gift of deeply considered thinking. This book is a triumph of storytelling, painstaking research, personal vulnerability and nuance. I did not really believe anyone could do justice to the size and scope of this topic, and David has proved me mightily wrong. As I pored over every page I variously felt enraged, sorrowful, entertained, respectful and, at the last, hopeful.' - AUDETTE EXEL, Founder of the Adara Group, former Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year and Australian Philanthropist of the Year. 'Curiosity, courage and candour are David Leser's great strengths as a journalist. Here, he sets out to understand the explosion of female fury that is the #MeToo movement and ends up asking himself some tough questions. A wistful one too: should he have asked the beautiful stranger on the French train to have a drink with him?' - JANE CADZOW, journalist 'An important read for anybody interested in a real dialogue and a real engagement on how to move forward in a #MeToo era. The fact that it is written by a man who is aware of his privileges and led by his curiosity for a genuine understanding makes it all the more important.' - ZAINAB SALBI, author of Between Two Worlds and executive editor and host of #MeToo, Now What? 'David Leser has written the book a man needed to write. He has a deep ethical understanding of discrimination against women. He cares about that injustice. But he also cares about how men themselves can be part of the solution. Compassionate, incisive and beautifully written.' - PROFESSOR CATHARINE LUMBY, academic, author and journalist 'A brave plunge into deep waters: a tough, thorough, tender - even loving - book.' - ROBERT DREWE, author of The Shark Net 'A masterfully nuanced and deeply insightful look at how we arrived - and where to from here - in this post-#MeToo world.' - LISA WILKINSON


  • Long-listed for Nib Literary Award 2020 (Australia)

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