Intense writing reflects McGowan's powerful emotions

Willie Campbell reviews Rose McGowan's new autobiography, Brave. Published by HQ/Harper Collins. 


Opening the cover of Rose McGowan's memoir is akin to removing the stopper on the container that traps the #MeToo genie. McGowan weaves her way through the pages and outwards in intense moods - vulnerable, resentful, reflective, determined, angry, staunch and brave. At times the energy in her writing is such that the words seem to rush at you from the page.

What is consistent throughout the work is her assertion that all woes, all struggles, all sadness come from the powerful domination of males. Her descriptions of instances of this certainly support that view. Men in her family, the hippy cult in which she spent her childhood, the advertising and entertainment industry, are examples of the powerful reach of males, centering around sexuality.

The cover photos show her having her hair shaved. She looks at long hair as one of the main signals of sexual attractiveness and availability. The blonde Madonna and the dark whore are symbols of female powerlessness. Always she experiences exploitation as the cost of success. And she considers that she has, unawares, played her part in this. Her eating disorder, extreme exercising and tooth straightening she now sees as collusion with the corrupt system.

Her way of saving herself is to remove her inner self, or to become a fantasy creature. This is particularly powerful in her description of trauma at the hands of "The Monster - I will not have his name in my book".

The final chapters show Rose fulfilled and creative. She believes we can all be brave as she now is, and further, we should be.

 - Willie Campbell is a Dunedin educator.

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