Australian journalist and author David Leser’s 2018 Good Weekend article, ‘Women, men and the whole damn thing’, sparked a wildfire of commentary, confession, and praise. Written in the early white heat of the #MeToo movement, the Harvey Weinstein exposé, and Oprah Winfrey’s 2018 Golden Globes speech in which she spoke out on behalf of the Time’s Up campaign, it crackled with questions that were age-old yet suddenly pressing: ‘Why is it that men have killed, enslaved, scarred, diminished and silenced women of every age, race and class, on every continent, for so long?’; ‘What is it we have so deeply normalised that we are blind to?’ And most pertinently, or practically, in the midst of this cultural reckoning: what happens next?
Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing expands on those themes and features well-crafted interviews with activists, intellectuals, campaigners, authors, and family members, and also selected correspondence the author has received from victims of abuse.
As a ‘straight, white, middle-class male who has breathed the untroubled air of privilege’ all his life, Leser is at pains to point out that he isn’t a spokesperson for women and can’t ever know their lived experience. Rather, as a father of two daughters, he wants to show ‘there were men prepared to listen and learn’ – men who might ‘become part of the change that is so urgently required’.