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The Me Too movement, founded by Tarana Burke, which was a grass roots movement that addressed sexual assault and rape culture, has also found its way into contemporary novels and films. The 2019 Hollywood film, Bombshell is one such example, and there seem to be more on the way. Mary Higgins Clark’s novel, Kiss the Girls and Make them Cry also hinges itself to the momentum of the me too movement.
The novel is written from the perspective of Gina Kane, who is a journalist and quasi-detective. She receives an email from CRyan about having a bad experience at a very famous T.V. News station, but then she never hears back from Ryan. When women who have experienced sexual harassment from the same company start disappearing and dying, Kane decides to dig deeper and try to uncover who is sexually assaulting and then killing these women in order to silence them.
The novel has the feel of a more traditional detective story, although some of the plot twists feel a bit forced or even confused. There were many moments where certain events felt way too convenient. The main aspect of the novel that I would like to talk about is the use of Me Too.
The Me Too movement is talked about a lot throughout the novel. It is used as a plot driver – as the sexual assault victims learn of successful court cases that prosecute rapists, they become embolden. Gina also uses the Me Too Movement to argue her case for her newspaper to take her story seriously. Yet, to me, it seems like Me Too just falls out of the sky in the novel. It is just there with no real reference to how it happened, who started the movement, or really what it has done. And before you start going “It’s only fiction”, let me stop you right there. Fiction is just as important as any other literary medium. It is through fiction that ideas about society, culture, language, and gender (just to name a few) are explored, challenged, and reaffirmed. In using the Me Too Movement in this way, I cannot help but get the feeling like Higgins Clark is whitewashing the movement.
This could have been a moment where Higgins Clark used the power of her writing and popularity to pay homage to the roots of the movement. Furthermore, to use her fiction as a teachable moment about the movement and its Black history. This happens all to often for my liking.
I am curious to see if other people have read this novel and if they have any thoughts on the use of the Me Too Movement in Higgins Clark’s novel. As always, share the reading love.