TW/CW: Sexual Assault, Trauma, Rape, Self-Harm
Review written by Dominic Pierre
When I first held ManEater by Jean Marie Bub, I couldn’t help but trace over every line, meditate over the narrative, and felt destroyed but rebuilt from start to finish. In the beginning, she pulls open the curtain and reveals a disclaimer titled: “I have some explaining to do before you read this,” and underneath one of the section breaks, she writes,
“MANEATER is about shedding that person. Shedding the shame. The guilt. Letting go of the blame I falsely placed upon myself, and realizing that in order to move on, I must become the right kind of monster. The kind that confronts the demon before it crosses threshold.”
Composed of artwork, photography, and poetry, ManEater details Jean’s personal experience with sexual assault, rape, traumas, self-love, self-harm, and pain; while also bringing attention to the reality that it’s a shared experience of womanhood.
One of the many magnifying images throughout ManEater comes from “More Real Headlines.” In this gut-wrenching picture, there are ten cutouts of news headlines detailing 10-atrocities.
1) “Men are killing thousands of women a year for saying no.”
2) “NYC Woman decapitated by estranged husband, who also slit 5-year old daughter’s throat and hanged himself–on day she planned to file for order of protection.”
3) “In small Alaska city, Native women say police ignored rapes.”
4) “Harlem mom fatally shot after confronting man who groped her on street.”
5) “50,000 women around the world were killed by someone they knew in 2017—and women in the US are at risk.”
As the book progresses, I remain shocked, though not surprised. The swelling of atrocity in the hands and brains of men is disgusting and alarming. The way society continues to ignore and perpetuate this problem is abhorrent and alarming. But, more than all else, it all contributes to and continues the cycle of abuse.
Page 74 contains a piece titled, For The Mother’s That Protect Their Rapist Sons, and is followed by “If you ignore abuse, you enable abuse."
In the pages that follow, Jean includes two pictures. One of a text message chain where the abuser’s cousin communicated they “would like to see proof of what you are saying,” and the other of a screenshot of a document in the Notes app where Jean writes at the end, “But how much of that is my fault."
Another one of my favorite moments throughout ManEater was the inclusion of pages where Jean embraces the reader after establishing a safe space. For example, at the start of Confronting the Monster, a blank page reads: “Name them here____,” and at the end of the chapter, she puts, “Use the space to vent below” at the top of the page; providing space for the reader’s gentle thoughts.
Jean begins to heal by way of vulnerability and reminds readers (as well as herself), “We must always return to our sisters in order to heal ourselves.” in the poem titled, After the Great Nia Mora (who is a Harlem based writer, big love coach, and healer).
Lesson #222 reads: “Do not rush to healing without first completely feeling all seasons of pain,”
And it serves as a beautiful affirmation as we all dive deep into our exploration into self-love and community at our most vulnerable moments. Jean includes a list of helpful resources for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line.
The emotion Jean evoked throughout this magnificent collection stripped me bare and left me in an incredibly meditative state. I strongly suggest this book to everyone, especially men who could benefit significantly from reflecting deeply about women’s daily lives and honestly ask themselves how they can become better men and understand someone in their life who has similar experiences.
Jean-Marie Bub did an incredibly fantastic job fully confronting the monster and slaying it; while simultaneously urging all readers to do the same. ManEater is about normalizing the discussions by telling your own story!
Dominic Pierre (He/Him) is a writer and editor based in New York City. His work has appeared in Near Window Magazine, CP Quarterly, the winnow, Dreams Walking Magazine, and Moonchild Magazine.
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