“To those who broke the silence and to those still searching for their voice,” the first page of J.K. Stein’s, “The Director: a Memoir,” reads.
This dedication page sets the stage of a poignant and thought provoking book about the large scale #MeToo movement.
The movement was founded in 2006 by Tarana Burke, who aimed to give sexual assault survivors empowerment through empathy and show survivors that they are not alone.
Within months of its inception, the movement gained national media attention and brought sexual assault to the forefront of national dialogue, sparking discussions across the world. Survivors from all walks of life, even celebrities, have come forward in the years since to join the movement and speak up about their own experiences with sexual assault.
The movement’s momentum has yet to slow down, sweeping across the nation and world in its impacts.
Stein’s memoir joins the stories of thousands of other survivors.
It all began on an unsuspecting afternoon when J, a recent college graduate now living in New York City, was approached by the Director at a coffee shop. He complimented her, calling her beautiful and telling her that she absolutely had to be in his next movie. Flattered, J agreed to meet with him to discuss the movie further.
When they exchanged phone numbers and arranged a later meeting, J had no idea that she was about to enter a five year long, abusive relationship with the powerful director.
Written in the form of journal entries, Stein gives an intimate account of every stage of her relationship with the Director. Her attention to detail pulls the reader into the situation, creating an empathetic relationship to Stein as she faces physical, mental and emotional obstacles.
Stein spares no details in describing her account of the abuse, exploring every uncomfortable and even appalling part of the affair. The descriptions make it real and pull the reader in, forcing them to feel what she did, though you know that your own feelings aren’t even half of what she went through.
Through her intensely personal journal entries, Stein offers retrospective analysis of the events, her choices and their consequences.
Her own experience led her to examine her own choices and motives, eventually leading to a great deal of self doubt. On top of this, the assaults left her delving into a world of self-hatred, leading to the perpetuation of her long standing eating disorder and poor body image.
Stein’s experience shows the many layers of a relationship such as the one she had with the Director. Though unique in a sense, her account of her own experiences gets to the root of the the message of the #MeToo movement: sexual assault takes many forms, but all of them have lasting impacts.
Stein explores the more complicated nature of sexual assault, leaving the reader with thought provoking, open ended questions. What constitutes as consent? What exactly counts as prostitution? What are you willing to risk for success? What other areas of a survivor’s life does sexual assault impact? Better yet, is there any part of a survivor’s life that the assault doesn’t impact?
Full of raw emotion and poignant anecdotes, “The Director: a Memoir” is a masterfully written work that gives an in-depth look into the very real world of power, lust, manipulation and a young woman hoping to discover herself among it all.
Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.