I am happy to announce the completion of my first book, Perversion of Justice. When I say “completion”, I mean I have written all but the last chapter, edited it three times, and I am looking for an agent and a publisher. Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” I don’t think I completely agree with that statement. Art is never finished, you just stop. But so much of your soul is poured into it, it’s never abandoned.
Perversion of Justice is the true story of how two, ordinary, working-class women exposed workplace sexual assault and harassment by federal judge Samuel B. Kent, but not before they destroyed each other first. Perversion of Justice is not only about the abuses of power created by self-policing systems and lifetime judicial appointments, but it is also about a rarely talked about aspect of sexual oppression in the workplace– why women turn on each other in the face of sexual harassment/assault allegations.
I first came across Cathy McBroom and Donna Wilkerson’s story in a Texas Monthly article written by Skip Hollingsworth (who recently gave me permission to steal his absolutely perfect title). Skip is one of my favorite local authors and has a real gift at taking a complicated legal story and making it accessible to the reader. I was completely captivated by Cathy and Donna’s David and Goliath story. At the time, I was the Associate Director for the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. I used that platform to bring the two women to UT to tell their story to a group of interested gender rights scholars.
While I had written plenty of academic articles by that point in my career, I had never written a book. I could not stop thinking about their story and after their talk at UT, over dinner, I mustered up the courage to ask them if they would trust me with the long form of their story. I am so grateful they said yes.
One thing that has been completely fascinating to me in this process has been going back and reading Skip’s article now that the long form is (nearly) finished. There is so much more to this story than could have ever been covered in a magazine story (which again speaks to Skip’s gift of still captivating his readers). Even in the long form, I left stories out for the sake of succinctness.