Thursday, 28 November 2019

Review: Generation F by Virginia Trioli

Originally conceived as a response to Helen Garner's controversial non-fiction novel The First Stone and published in 1996 when the author was a young and up and coming journalist, Generation F remains as relevant today as it was when it was first released. This one offers a no holds barred look at the need for feminism, while also examining precisely why many women just put up with sexual harassment, when they shouldn't have to. 

I will be honest. Reading parts of this book made me feel angry. I picked it up knowing that it would make me feel angry. After all, it is the kind of book that takes an unflinching look at the harsh realities that are firsthand experiences for many, many women. 

What I did not expect was just how angry I would feel, or that there would be moments when I would have to put the book down and take a deep breath. This isn't the kind of book that offers answers; instead, it unflinchingly tells it like it is. Or how things were for women in Melbourne in the 1990s which is depressingly much like the experiences of many women across Australia in 2019. And obviously, it talks quite a bit about The First Stone and explains the core question at the heart of that book--why the young women involved may have gone to the police and why they didn't just tell the university professor to stop.

I first become aware of this book at about the point when the MeToo movement gained momentum. Aware of its relevance, I tried in vain to source a secondhand copy (after all, it had been out of print for about twenty years at that point,) and was unsuccessful. (Well, I could have bought a copy if I'd been willing to pay a very dodgy amazon seller US$100.) Anyway, it seems that I wasn't the only person on the planet who saw the relevance of this book--it has now been republished by Scribner and comes complete with a new forward and afterword.

Highly recommended.