Why Honesty Matters

Heads up – discussions of sexual assault, as related to Woody Allen’s memoir controversy.

So, you may have heard about Woody Allen’s memoir being published by Hachette, and then Hachette walking that back? If not, here’s a brief summary of what started it all, as given by @RonanFarrow:

Once he posted this, and word got out, there was a sort of general outcry. Quite a few Hachette employees in various publishing departments walked out and protested, MANY people spoke up about the whole thing, until this happened:

Now, I’m 100% certain that there are people out there either confused about why this was such a big deal, or angry at Hachette for caving, or what-have-you. Here is my take on the issue.

The absolute #1 thing Hachette did wrong here was their lack of transparency. Hiding something is just as dishonest as actually lying about it. If your husband believes that *you* believe he isn’t drinking, but you find beer cans hidden around the house? THAT IS DISHONEST. He doesn’t have to come right out and say, “No, I haven’t been drinking” for it to be wrong. It’s the same principle here – Hachette specifically bought this title from a man they *knew* had allegations against him and they did not contact the accuser to do any fact-checking. Worse – they HID it from another author who has not only spoken out about those very allegations, but has MADE THEM MILLIONS with a book about sexual assault and how powerful men cover it up. Ronan has spoken out about his sister’s accusations against Woody Allen, and has been very clear where he stands. Hachette had a moral obligation to at least let him know they bought the rights, and give Ronan an option to find another publisher. Instead, they bought Allen’s title, kept it quiet, and hoped it would all come out in the wash. It may be *legally* fine, but morally – it absolutely was dishonest.

For me, that’s where the problem is. I truly don’t give a damn if Allen finds another publisher for his title. There probably are people that want to read it, though I’m certainly not one of them. I don’t believe in censorship of any sort, and he always has the option to continue shopping it around, or even to self-publish. I believe that if any other publisher decided to acquire Allen’s book, while Ronan had his at Hachette? This would be a non-starter in the major controversy department. There would be the usual articles and conversations about he said/she said, hopefully some more enlightened discussion in the light of #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein’s convictions…but not anything to the extent this has become.

See, the thing is – women are finding their voices. For so long, we’ve been told we can’t talk, we shouldn’t speak, no one will listen or believe us. We’re finally discovering our power, and demanding that those who handle our stories do it with some measure of respect. We are *also* finding that we DO have allies, people who will stand with us and amplify our voices in a way that we cannot. Ronan is an ally, and he has spoken up for so many women. Simultaneously, his book has been a HUGE seller for this publisher. He absolutely earned the right to be told what was going on. Yes, this is Allen’s memoir – but it comes with a hell of a lot of baggage, some in the form of alleged sexual assault. That deserves a measure of honor and respect in how it’s handled, and that is exactly the OPPOSITE of what Hachette did.

I am a military sexual assault survivor – the group that gets talked about the LEAST when it comes to #MeToo. Seeing so many people, men AND women, speak up about their assaults was both horrifying and freeing in a visceral way. With Weinstein, Lauer, and more facing accountability for their actions (though still a FAR too small percentage), it gives me hope. Hope that my daughter will never have to deal with this, but if she does, hope that she will find the justice I never did. That’s the key – accountability at all levels. By refusing to be open about their acquisition, knowing that Ronan was writing about this very subject and that his knowledge of their purchase might affect his choice to stay with them, they chose to hide it. They were dishonest. To Ronan, to their employees, and to the customers – like me – who would care about this terrible lack of morals. With the latest outcry, Hachette was held accountable – and I can’t find it in my heart to be upset about that.

Note: If you’ve been sexually assaulted and are looking for resources or just need to talk, please visit https://www.rainn.org/

Author: stillmorewords

Small-town girl, living in a big city. Former Coastie, married with 2 kids. Inveterate reader of all genres, though non-fiction and YA currently rule. Former indie bookstore employee, small business owner, tea drinker.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: