It’s simple, really: just one syllable, dragged out or said sharply, emphatically, and finally. No. You’ve heard it all your life, yelled it a time or two. “No” is easy to say, especially when, as in the new book “My Moment,” stories collected by Kristin Chenoweth, Kathy Najimy, Linda Perry, Chely Wright and Lauren Blitzer, you’re done.
Watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify in the Senate Chambers some time ago, Chenoweth, Najimy, Perry, Wright, and Blitzer became outraged. Over the years, they’d heard other women’s stories of bullying, abuse, injustice, and more; the five of them are friends, and they had stories to tell, too. They decided to ask women from all over the world one question: “What was the moment in your life when you realized you were ready to fight for yourself?”
The answers are in this book.
High school student Miya Lao was bullied for her diminutive height, until she realized that she didn’t need to give bullies any attention because “they weren’t my friends.” Performer Adrienne Warren was told by boys that she didn’t belong on the ball court when she “decided to be a warrior for myself…” Actress Kelly O’Hara accomplished an athletic feat and nobody believed her. She proved them wrong.
There are stories of racism here: activist Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman was taunted by racist jokes until she confronted the kid who told them. And there are stories of women who struggled before coming out, dealing with doubters, haters, and homophobes.
Comedian Melissa Peterman was a victim of body-shaming. Actress Marlo Thomas’ own father stopped believing in her. Actress Debra Messing was sexually harassed by a director; and TV host S.E. Cupp, by a magazine publisher. Comedian Carol Burnett was told that her idea for a show was “a man’s game.” Lawyer Tina Tchen’s ideas were stolen by a male co-worker. Singer-songwriter Alice Peacock hoped to change her family’s legacy. And musician Chrissie Hynde says she started standing up for herself, “The moment I was born.”
You know the feeling: frustration, like your arms are tied to your sides and the tears are coming, although you’ve promised yourself that you weren’t going to cry and then something inside you flips. Those are the kinds of stories you’ll read in “My Moment” and instantly, they’ll all seem familiar, as if you’ve known them all your life.
That’s discouraging. And yet, what you’ll read here is empowering, too, because the balance of content – from coming-out stories to bullying to harassment at work – will show readers that no matter what they’ve experienced, it’s not new or shameful. Yes, some stories may seem more relatable than others; some have no catalyst other than an unwillingness to accept anymore guff. In any case, readers will find breaking points, strength, and guts inside this book as well as a yell-out-loud lack of uniqueness, and that may lend courage to those who need words of support and power.
A little of that is always good, making “My Moment” a modern woman’s must-have, no problem.
“My Moment: 106 Women on Fighting for Themselves,” stories collected by Kristin Chenoweth, Kathy Najimy, Linda Perry, Chely Wright and Lauren Blitzer
c.2022, Gallery Books