A Virtual Conversation with Award-Winning Journalist Alison Bass, author of Brassy Broad: How one woman helped pave the way to #MeToo
Thursday, September 23, at 7 PM EDT on Zoom
Science Writers in New York is pleased to present Alison Bass (@AlisonBBass), author of Brassy Broad: How one woman helped pave the way to #MeToo (publication date September 21). She will discuss her new book with SWINY co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine).
Before the dawn of social media, which has been a powerful tool for amplifying the voices of women, the experience of sexual harassment and abuse was both insidious and isolating. Egregious workplace behavior toward women was tolerated with the unspoken acceptance that “men will be men.” Complaints about sexual assault in and outside the office often ended up with the victims being blamed. Ironically, newsrooms were a hotbed of both sexual discrimination and harassment. Women who complained were seen not as victims but as the problem, and either had to tolerate it or surrender their career ambitions. Alison Bass took the third way. She used her skills as a journalist to illuminate other women’s stories.
Alison was the first reporter in the nation to write about how common it was for male psychiatrists to have sex with their female patients and how that abuse of trust devastated survivors. She was also the first reporter at The Boston Globe to write about the molestation of children by Catholic priests – a decade ahead of the Spotlight investigation chronicled in the Oscar-winning 2016 movie.
But her success came at a price. Some of her bosses had trouble with her assertive reporting style and refusal to take “no” for an answer. When she was at The Miami Herald in the ’80s, her editors didn’t know what to do with a “brassy northern broad” who kept breaking stories about government corruption even though that wasn’t her beat. At the Globe, she was denied a berth on the Spotlight team because she was considered too independent-minded for a woman.
The narrative is framed by her childhood experience growing up in Bryn Gweled, an unusual cooperative community near Philadelphia, Pa., that taught her to challenge the status quo. Being raped her junior year abroad in England, as traumatic as that was, made her a more empathetic and open-minded reporter. She weaves these stories together with chapters about her journalism career into a gripping tale about one woman’s struggle to establish herself as a respected journalist and author in an industry dominated by men. In a sense, Brassy Broad is the inverse of Hillbilly Elegy, in that it tells the story of how growing up in a close-knit rural environment gave rise to a deeply questioning female sensibility.
About Alison Bass
Alison Bass is the author of two critically acclaimed nonfiction books, Getting Screwed, Sex Workers and the Law and Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and A Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial, which received the prestigious National Association of Science Writers’ Science in Society Award. The film rights for Side Effects were optioned in 2016.
Alison, an award-winning journalist, was a long-time medical and science writer for The Boston Globe. Her articles and essays have also appeared in The Huffington Post, The Miami Herald, The Village Voice, Psychology Today, and numerous other newspapers and magazines around the country. A series Alison wrote for The Boston Globe on psychiatry was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in the Public Service category. Alison has received a number of other journalism awards for her work, including the Top Media Award from the National Mental Health Association and two media awards from the Alliance for the Mentally Ill. In 2007, she won a prestigious Alicia Patterson Fellowship for her investigative work.
Have a question for Alison you would like answered?
Submit it here!
Thursday, September 23
7 to 8 PM EDT