One of the Best Memoirs by Women: Brave by Rose McGowan

Cover of Brav by Rose McGowan and quote: Why does a man’s desire supersede my right to dignity? What makes certain men think their perversions are more important than a girl’s right to exist as a free human in society?

Most people know Rose McGowan from Charmed. Teenage me was a fan of the show from the beginning. I came to lover her character and I thought she was a beautiful woman. This memoir shows a different picture of her, the real one, and I believe this is one of the best memoirs written by women. Everyone should read it!

Today she presents an other side of her to the public, she shaved her hair and is unconcerned about other people’s opinion of herself. If you read this book you will find out why she’s unapologetic and unwavering when it comes to showing her true self. It is something she felt she could not do while under the watchful eyes of Hollywood.

Saying that this book shook me is a gross understatement. She had a rough life and she lays it all out in Brave. Listening to the audio is, in my opinion, the best way to consume the book, because Rose McGowan narrates it herself. Her voice and so words are so powerful. I felt that she was telling me her story and it was a hard story to tell so it was OK to be angry about it.

You will either love or hate this book. There is no in between. Rose McGowan poured her heart and soul into this novel. She poured all her hatred for Hollywood and men into it. It must have taken a helluva lot of courage to write all of it down so the title is very apt.

She was born in a cult in Italy. Then she moved to the US and as an actress she became member of another cult, that of Hollywood. I think this is one of the best memoirs written by women.

“Here’s the thing about cults: I see them everywhere.
If you’re deep into the Kardashians, you’re in a cult. If you watch your favorite TV show and go online and you’re in chat rooms with everybody else who’s obsessed with that show and you’re breaking it down episode by episode, you’re in a cult. If you’re bingeing, scrolling, absorbing from one news source more than any other, especially if it happens to be fair and balanced, you are in a cult. You’re living your life through other people.”

Growing Up in a Cult in Italy

I didn’t know anything about her early years so I was surprised to find out that she was born in a cult in Italy called Children of God. Apparently Joaquin Phoenix belonged to the same cult. This was a cult in which men lead and women had to obey. I don’t understand how a parent could ever think that this was a good environment for children.

“When I was about four, I had a wart on my thumb. I was toddling down this long hallway when one of the doors opened…A man with shaggy blond hair picked me up, looked at my hand, and said, “Perfection in all things.” He held up a razor blade and sliced my hand with one swipe, winking at me as he sat me back down. “Perfection in all things,” he said again before shutting the door and leaving me in the hallway.”

The cult was a horrible place for women and children alike. It’s hard to believe that what she recounts actually happened because it just seems extremely surreal. I mean, how can things like that happen? How can a parent agree to that? How can a woman agree to that?

Thankfully, her father drew the line at pedophilia and took his children to the US, leaving his wife behind.

Coming of Age in the Cult of Hollywood

If you think her life turned better after Children of God, you are wrong. Yes, she escaped that community full of discrimination and abuse. But the abuse did not end.

In this part of the book she writes about the men she met professionally and personally. It is here she describes how she was sexually assaulted by one of Hollywood’s most influential movie producer. The crazy thing is that apparently sexual abuse in Hollywood regularly is a regular occurrence. It is so regular that it is the norm and no one says a thing. It is truly brave of her to shed light on these depraved men. How dare they?

“Hollywood operates like the Mafia when it comes to protecting its own. Especially if your “own” is a rich white male. Yes, I said it. But here’s the thing, it’s true. I didn’t make it so, it just is. In other news, the sky is blue.”

It is truly a harrowing book to listen to. She is so brave and, I believe, it is her no bullshit attitude that made her survive all of it.

I love how she asks all women to speak up and join her in being brave and exposing these men.

Women! Speak Up! Final Thoughts

This is a book written in rage and that is OK, considering what she went through. She was inexperienced and did not have anyone to turn to in Hollywood. Women learn from an early age to be submissive and to accept things as they are. I think this is especially true for her because of growing up in a cult. Thus, venting all that rage must have felt therapeutic. I hope it did.

The only thing I feel that is a bit weird is that all the men she met were abusive. Or is she generalizing? It is her right to present her story the way she wants it. I know that there are great men out there who would never think of abusing women. But I guess we must find another book if we want to hear about their side of the story.

Overall, I really liked this book and the experience of listening to Rose McGowan narrating it made it even better. If one can praise a book about such a harrowing experience.

I love how she urges every women to speak up and speak up loudly. She has had a hard life and she is not ashamed of it. She was always an outspoken person, a rebel, and I feel that with this book she has shed the last of the ‘hypocritical glamour’ Hollywood made her wear. She can now embrace the future as her true self and that is the way it should be.

I am proud of her and I hope this book will make women in Hollywood but also in other industries to speak up. It is time to stop sexualising women. It is time to take power away from men and give it back to women.

“What a pity that so many of us girls and women have our peripheral vision taken away simply because of unwanted attention. I heartily disagree with the whole “boys will be boys” bullshit. No, raise your boys to see girls as humans, not objects.”

More Recommendations

If you want to read more about sexism, check out my review of Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates. It is also a book which gives courage to women to speak up.

For more memoirs written by women check out this post by HuffPost. There are more than a few on this list I would like to read. But to talk of a more recent memoir written by a powerful woman, check out Becoming by Michelle Obama.

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