Gretchen Carlson's Be Fierce is a tour de force handbook for women and men on harassment cultures and how to fight them. While we're going to summarize some key points here, we highly recommend you just get the book and read it yourself. This is a good read not only for conversations regarding harassment in businesses and other organizations (there are some college presidents who should read this immediately), but for humans in general.
Carlson's story is well known - she was the first woman to sue Roger Ailes and Fox News for sexual harassment, claiming that she was fired from the network for refusing Ailes' sexual advances. After Carlson, several other women came forward and Ailes was forced to resign. Carlson was hailed by many as brave, and harassed by many others. Her emotional journey through that saga is detailed in the book. That part was good, for sure, but the best part for me was how Carlson put on her journalist hat and reported the story.
She digs into the research behind harassment, what are the legal ramifications, how the EEOC recommends you deal with it. She introduces you to others having this conversation (we were particularly impressed she cited Michael Kimmel's work on 'real men' versus 'good men', by the way) and helps you find your way. Her constant reminder is that the law is not the issue here - our culture is seeped in disrespect towards women. Sexual harassment is an insidious trauma that has foundations in the very bedrock of the country. To shift that tide takes intentionality and championing of people who speak out.
If you've been seeing #metoo pop up all over your social media feeds, or are kind of shocked that Time would choose The Silence Breakers as their people of the year, or if you're in HR and realizing this is about to become your entire job, then get this book. If you love a young woman going into the workforce, get her this book. If you're concerned with helping young men understand the difference between power and consent, then get them this book. If you're interested in leadership - authentic leadership grounded in service to humans - then get this book.
Silence is the biggest tool in the abuser's toolbox. We're so glad that this year has marked the elimination of silence from so many stories, but man do we have more to go. Thank you, Ms. Carlson, for your brave voice in the fight, and for your contribution to the anti-harassment canon. We'll be recommending this for a while to come.