Published: September 24, 2019
My Rating: 5/5
She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.
Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.
Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.
Let’s get real.
EVERYONE needs to read this.
I’m asking that you prioritize this one. It deserves to top lists. Whatever your gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs or race. Even if nonfiction isn’t your thing, even if you’re not ready to get into something a bit heavier, even if you’re not interested in the justice system or political correctness – Know My Name is well worth an exception to any excuses. This is a stunning and important read – a book that resonates for both good and bad.
Know My Name is Chanel Miller’s anthem to reclaiming not just her name but also her story, and her life. In 2015 she was reduced to an alias known as Emily Doe or worst, ‘Brock Turner’s victim’. It was a case that appalled the nation and outraged many, and also sparked a necessary debate that would question and spotlight a culture of male sexual entitlement. The pretty boy with olympian potential got but a slap on the wrist after being found guilty on all charges in a case of sexual assault against an unconscious Miller. Trials would unabashedly paint Chanel as a drunk, irresponsible slut; ‘victim-blaming’ not just a vague rumor but a tactic that the defense admittedly used and did so in excess. But despite Turner being found guilty, this tactic would inevitably work. And it had worked in enough a capacity for Turner to be sentenced to a mere 6 months of incarceration, ruled by a judge that confidently endorsed leniency in lieu of the ‘young man’s potential’.
Regardless of the recall of that judge, regardless of the retrial, regardless of the mass exposure that this case got and the impact that Chanel Miller’s victim statement would make for years to come – Brock Turner was forgiven in the eye of the justice system due in part to how Chanel was portrayed and, on some level, levied against her attacker’s worth.
That’s why Chanel Miller’s story is incredibly important. Why we need to listen intently and empathetically. Her story stands as a testament to so much more than a case of mistrial. It pleads that we reevaluate what a ‘victim’ is. It asks that we acknowledge a flaw in our culture’s approach to inappropriate and uncomfortable situations that women need to navigate on a daily basis. It demands that we take a hard look at ourselves and the reflections we’ve projected into politics and a justice system that hasn’t evolved with the current climate.
We’re due for an overhaul.
And if Miller’s victim statement is any evidence of the power of the people – of what a single voice that’s reached its threshold for patience, for subtly, for the meekness a ‘victim’ is painted with – then we need more voices. Those that read her statement, that cried, that raged, that felt their pulse in their ears and understood intricately what her struggle means are the potential future voices for movement and change.
This is a five star + read. It’s an amazing book. Beautifully written and incredibly moving with a message that’s important and necessary. Miller provides invaluable representation for women everywhere and she does so with a grace and intelligence that’s hard to replicate. Few nonfiction reads resonate so wholly and universally and that alone should speak volumes about Miller’s prose. I implore everyone to get around to this one – make it a priority.
If one voice can accomplish so much, imagine what millions could do.