‘Empathy’

Amber Tamblyn’s new book tells the story of a woman rapist from the perspective of the character’s male victims

Amber Tamblyn (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Actress, poet, and Time’s Up co-founder Amber Tamblyn has authored a new book, Any Man, that tells the story of a woman serial-rapist that she said was partially inspired by a desire to spark male empathy for the experiences of women who suffer sexual violence. Speaking with The Guardian, Tamblyn said that her decision to write her narrative from the perspective of the rapist’s six male victims has already prompted some extremely negative and emotional reactions.

“I think they see it as I’m just reversing the gender roles and I’m [taking] away the experience of women and giving it to men,” said Tamblyn. “That’s OK. They can feel that way … this is not about reversing gender roles … [but having] more difficult conversations about what sexual assault looks like.”

In part, she said, Any Man was also meant to expand the scope of the #MeToo movement to include the accounts of victimized men. But her primary objective, she explained, was to help start a conversation about rape — both in terms of its prevalence, how it’s viewed culturally, and in terms of its larger effects on victims and society alike.

Tamblyn’s antagonist, conceived four years ago before the #MeToo movement became a global phenomenon, was inspired by her discovery that few women antagonists in literature or cinema do “things without consequence and for no other reason than she just enjoyed them … there has to be redeemable quality, no matter how small, even if it’s their prettiness.” So in designing her own monster, she said, she decided to create a “projection of all of society’s dehumanizing of women” by taking “the terms and the words that are used to describe [powerful women] and [creating] a woman that is those literal things.”

“To find a way to get people who have been blind their whole lives to see. That is the work,” said Tamblyn of her motivation for writing. “That is the only way that things can change.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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