The First Stone

The First Stone In the autumn of two young women students at Melbourne University went to the police claiming that they had been indecently assaulted at a party The man they accused was the head of their co ed

  • Title: The First Stone
  • Author: Helen Garner
  • ISBN: 9780330355834
  • Page: 379
  • Format: Paperback
  • In the autumn of 1992, two young women students at Melbourne University went to the police claiming that they had been indecently assaulted at a party The man they accused was the head of their co ed residential college The shock of these charges split the community and painfully focused the debate about sex and power This is writing of great boldness and it will wringIn the autumn of 1992, two young women students at Melbourne University went to the police claiming that they had been indecently assaulted at a party The man they accused was the head of their co ed residential college The shock of these charges split the community and painfully focused the debate about sex and power This is writing of great boldness and it will wring the heart an intense, eloquent and enthralling work AUSTRALIAN This was never going to be an easy book to write, its pages are bathed in anguish and self doubt, but suffused also with a white hot anger GOOD WEEKEND Travelling with Garner along the complex paths of this sad story is, strangely enough, enjoyable The First Stone is a book worth reading for its writing SYDNEY MORNING HERALD Garner has ensured one thing the debate about sexual harassment will now have a very public airing And it will have it in the language of experience to which all women and men have access AGE

    One thought on “The First Stone”

    1. My first reaction to this book was one of disgust. That was in 1995, but I picked it up again recently and decided to give the book another chance. I read the title, the epigraphs, the first chapter. I was still disgusted. I’ve now finished the book, and the disgust stays with me still.As a work of feminism, this could have been spun from the ‘naive’ questions of the FAQ on Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog.As a work of journalism, this is a legal and ethical disaster, an example of what not to [...]

    2. In 1992, two female students at Ormond College, a residential college at the University of Melbourne, made complaints of sexual harassment against the college Master, Dr Colin Shepherd. One woman claimed that Shepherd had groped her breasts during a dance at a student party; the other that he had made unwelcome sexual comments to her during a conversation in a private room after he had locked the door. After the university’s internal disciplinary board sided with Shepherd, the women hired a ba [...]

    3. Helen Garner has an out-of-control empathetic ego. She feels she has the right to tell the women's story without having interviewed them because "after all, I am a woman". Ultimately non-one around her is allowed any emotional experience outside of her own. She also naively expects all strangers to trust her and is self-righteously angry when they don't. Apart from this, her subjective approach is honest and refreshing. She raises good points about gradation of crime.

    4. In my opinion Helen looked down on the girls and came across as anti feminist because a strong empowered woman does not behave like a tart and then complain about the consequences which appear to be minor in this circumstance. This kind of behaviour gives women a bad name. I am many things but i am not a feminist, give me an apron and a family to care for, I find that more fulfilling than a thankless career and no legacy. There is a photo circulating the web with proud, well dressed women in the [...]

    5. It has been some twenty years since my first reading of Helen Garners' 'The First Stone' and still her excruciating honesty about the interactions that occur between men and women still cause me such mental discomfort. This second reading, occurring as it does, against a backdrop of continuous and escalating levels of violence against woman at the hands of men, has made this book come to life again - as it did so many years ago in my youth with its brutal analysis of power, and sex, and harassme [...]

    6. Reading this book made me so angry - despite HG's insistence that she wanted to cover both sides, it comes across as a self-entitled attack of the two women (probably due to the fact that they weren't jumping at the chance to be interviewed). Additionally I was appalled at the casual attitude taken on sexual harassment, the petty stereotyping of feminists and her naive support for the accused.I don't think anyone will ever truly know what happened that night - what is clear is that the situation [...]

    7. I find myself entranced by Helen Garner's nonfiction, not solely because of the true story she is telling, but rather because that true story is very complex and I enjoy reading how she makes her way through the myriad tangles, all the voices that either want or don't want to be heard, and how she analyzes - not in some easy way, but really wrestles with the meanings underlying that true story. The First Stone is about what happens when two college girls accuse the Master of their college with s [...]

    8. I struggled to rate this book.When the author said that maybe her happy marriage had weakened her feminism, limiting her capacity to empathise with the complainants in this sexual harassment case, I had to re-read the passage several times. In my mind echoed something a man said to me once, "feminists are just women who need a good shag". I put the book down.In her pursuit of the complainants and unwillingness to believe that they could honestly refuse an interview I heard, "well she said no at [...]

    9. Well. I've been thinking about this book for days. This is Garner's highly personal account of the sexual harassment case that put Melbourne University's Ormond College in the news in the early 90s. I know Garner's book has provoked all sorts of reactions; for my part I found her views as a 'first-wave' feminist very interesting, particularly as I'm of the generation of the women who brought for the complaint. (Garner isn't actually first wave come to think of it, that would be all those women w [...]

    10. The First Stone is my first foray into Garner's work, and I have to say it was probably a mistake to start here. The author posits that her feminist views are perhaps outdated at the time of the book's central incident in the early nineties - and reading it over twenty years later, they seem outrageously, painfully so. It's a very uncomfortable read in this sense. It does give an interesting insight into the convergence of two generations of feminism, and the openness with which Garner examines [...]

    11. While not a very enjoyable topic I did find this a very good book.For some years I had been aware of just how far society had tilted in Melbourne from favouring males to favouring females when it came to sexual misconduct accusations. I think it is great that there are places in Australia that are trying hard to empower women by taking rape seriously however, In the time I lived in that city though I was personally acquainted with more than one case of a woman using the laws as a weapon against [...]

    12. I don't like reading about real life, because it makes me think of how crappy the world can be sometimes. Take me to a land of dragons, magic, and fairies any day!My class this semester for my Masters in Creative Writing is Creative Non Fiction. This was a great example of this genre, and helped me inform my final piece, but it's not what I want to write myself.

    13. I am a long-time fan of Helen Garner so it is perhaps surprising that it has taken me so long to read The First Stone, published in 1995. But the truth is I’ve been avoiding it.The First Stone explores a sexual harassment case brought by two undergraduate law students against the Master of Ormond College, one of the on-campus residential colleges at Melbourne university. The alleged indecent assaults happened at a college party in 1992.At that time, I had only recently graduated from Melbourne [...]

    14. Whilst I didn’t always align, I enjoy reading Helen’s inquisitive musings & exploring the depths of a topic riddled with grey, when we are so used to seeing black and white.

    15. Now I'm sure this wasn't the intended aim, but reading this book made me really like Helen Garner.It is noted quite repeatedly in numerous forms that her intention was to get the full story, however this never happened. Nor did she actually get an answer to the question "Why did you go to the Police" and yet wrote the book anyway.What I took from this book was an insight into the varying degrees of feminism (from hard core to respectfully logical) in the early 90s. I came away sharing Garner's v [...]

    16. Reading this piece of creative non-fiction was like having a conversation with a friend you don't always agree with, and don't particularly like all that much. This book skims the surface of many issues, yet explores nothing. At the centre is a sexual harassment case at a Melbourne University. She speaks a couple of times to the accused, and never speaks to the complainants or their supporters. Out of this she still manages to create something readable, by talking of related issues of feminism a [...]

    17. This creative nonfiction work is another of the many examples of Garner's wisdom which has no preachy elements in it. She constructs, and weaves into the story, her opinions seamlessly, and makes interesting connections between seemingly unrelated events such as the closing of the biscuit jar the sexual harassment. Still, this short book felt tedious at times. I wanted it to be more – more discussion of other cases of sexual harassment outside of the one that was at the heart of this book, mor [...]

    18. This book made me hate Helen Garner. Written about a terrible act of abuse by a man of power, this book is written by someone who claims to be an old school feminist, but she takes the exact opposite position, instead siding with the abuser and constantly berating the female victims who chose to complain to police about sexual harassment rather than keep quite about it 'like she had to do back in her day'Pathetic, should never have been published, do not read it. This is the first book I have ev [...]

    19. Helen Garner could write a book about painting one wall of her living room and it would still be fascinating, that’s how good a writer she is. But having now read three of her books, I’m seeing a theme: she is baffled at why everybody doesn’t think like her and more baffled when people won’t take the time to try to convince her to think otherwise, then give her the opportunity to do the same.The First Stone is creative non-fiction, meshing tales from Garner’s own personal life, particu [...]

    20. Garner is to be commended for her objective analysis and highly readable account of events. I'm sure Garner must have known when writing this book, that it would draw the ire of many feminists. Despite considering myself a feminist I feel she draws logical conclusions from the evidence she examines.

    21. A regrettale apologist work. The premise underlining this book seems to be that (young) women have no right to complain about being sexually harassed, and that it would be perfectly reasonable for a male professor to dance closely with a female student, and possibly even touch her breasts, unless she had specifically asked him not to beforehand. Enough said.

    22. My feelings about this book are so complicated. For reasons I assume will be relatively obvious, I found it to be incredibly problematic and, at times, even offensive. On more than one occasion I found myself audibly groaning or shaking my head. I understand that Garner was frustrated in being unable to secure interviews with the women in question, but when her immediate reaction upon reading the initial story was to empathise with (and directly reach out to) the accused, how could they ever all [...]

    23. Helen Garner is nothing if not controversial. After 20 years The First Stone is still a page-turner, even if it reads like a rehearsal for Joe Cinque’s Consolation, a masterpiece of first-person journalism.The First Stone hangs on an incident that allegedly occurred at a residential college at Melbourne Uni in 1991. The Master of Ormond College was accused of making an indecent approach to a female student in his office during a valedictory party and, later that night, of repeatedly feeling up [...]

    24. Perhaps this is unfashionable to admit, but I deeply loved this book. Over twenty years ago she asked the same questions I ask myself (albeit quietly) today when the news is full of #meToo reportage and endless stories of harassment, pay gaps, unfairness, violence and anger. The book uses a 1992 criminal case where two university students accuse the master of a prestigious Melbourne University residential college of indecently assaulting them at a party to ask various questions about sex and pow [...]

    25. When I first read this book, I was in my early 20s and identified with the female students. All of us in the 80s and 90s had our own 'war stories' about misogynistic, harassing treatment from men in positions of power. I understood completely how a woman who felt she'd been ignored would go to the the police. I loathed Helen Garner's portrayal of the students, and felt that she just didn't 'get it'. Looking back, without the women in the 90s standing up to the harassment they received (even if i [...]

    26. Questions about sex & power, indeed! There's so much about Helen Garner that I feel familiar with, in this book particularly. I started studying at Melbourne University in 1993 as the drama in the book played out in the background. As a "day student", I witnessed much of the collegiate attitude & impression of privilege it conveyed. At the time, I naively thought the colleges were just boarding houses based on religious orientation. But the exclusive club-like traditions and historical p [...]

    27. It's a weird book which leaves me feeling uneasy and frustrated. It's supposed to be reportage, but it is so self-focused. It doesn't have the scintillating sentences that I feel Garner is capable of, but it was gripping and interesting, and the topic is so current. You wonder why she as a feminist sympathizes with the perpetrator more than the victims, and she explains that she does not believe in women blindly supporting women when they may be doing wrong. She would probably write the book dif [...]

    28. I really struggled with this book. It's beautifully written, thought provoking, passionate and honest. I just couldn't agree with Helen Garner's point of view of the situation. From the first chapter I tried to understand the author's view; I closed the book still trying. For me this was an exhausting and confronting, though worthwhile read, if only to find out your own take on the issues this book tackles. Apart from all of that, simply enjoying Helen Garner's writing is reason enough to read i [...]

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