Well, it is all the news this week … “The Silence Breakers” (aka #MeToo) were revealed as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year with a cover featuring several women from different walks of life who have confronted various forms of bad treatment they received from men. Leading men in the high profile worlds of entertainment and politics have suffered consequences for a range of sexual behaviors toward female victims (and in some cases, male victims). Representative John Conyers, who was accused by former staffers of directly propositioning them, went into the hospital for stress and came out to resignation. Then six women senators started a movement for Al Franken’s resignation because of a series of accusations about inappropriate behavior; they were swiftly joined by other colleagues; this stampede culminated in Franken’s resignation a little more than 24 hours later. Rep. Trent Franks resigned a day after accusations surfaced from former staffers about being propositioned as possible surrogate mothers. More accusations are coming in the entertainment world as well as the political one.
The conversations are necessary and will ultimately be helpful. However, will the high profile examples (such as those featured on the Time Magazine cover) change things for the less famous, the less well-paid … cleaning crews and maid services, wait staff and clerks, others we rarely (if ever) attend to … the women at various levels on the corporate food chain who know that retaliation will follow if they report things that HR policies say should not be happening?
And of no less importance, if we do not follow any sort of process … if we set any and all forms of misconduct (from minor to criminal) as completely equivalent with one-size fits all consequences or punishments … once this rage-wave passes, what will be left in its wake? Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post offers some keen insights through some very important questions:
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Speaking of women who stood up – or sat down, in this case — daring to assert their rights simply to be and in so doing set into a motion waves of action that made a difference … Aiming to mark an important anniversary in the civil rights struggle on December 1st, Trump tweeted about Rosa Parks. This is wrong on so many levels — and Leonard Pitts nails them all:
If the connection with Colin Kaepernick strikes you as misguided or misplaced, please check out the article of Kap as Sports Illustrated‘s Muhammed Ali Legacy Award recipient in the current Sportsperson of the Year issue.
Following up on the themes of race, gender, and class, here’s a long-form heartbreaker: Black women _in the United States!_ are over 250 more times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy (during pregnancy, childbirth, or soon after birth) than white women. One amazing woman who was trying to find out why ended up being one of those statistics herself. Here’s her story:
Also on the subject of gender, class and expectation, the movie I, Tonya came out this weekend to largely favorable reviews. I remember my own reactions at the time of the attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan and the obvious involvement of people close to her rival Tonya Harding. Apparently, unlike a lot of people, I actually liked Tonya as her backstory came to light (growing up poor, driving a pickup truck to the rink, sewing her own costumes … a real young woman, not a fantasy princess). One of the commentaries written at the time questioned how much blame could really be applied to Tonya who worked as hard as anyone (and harder than some) to follow the rules that would take her to the top … only to find the rules did not apply in her case. This commentary on the movie makes a similar point and calls into question our enjoyment of knocking people from their pedestals (and how much of that is behind the current bruhaha over the various perpetrators of various forms of sexual impropriety?)
One thing that is NOT in the forefront of the news as it ought to be – given that the House and Senate are working to find some mutually agreeable version of the tax proposals. The claim keeps being pressed that the corporate tax cuts (along with tax cuts for high incomes) will do wonders for the economy to the benefit of all – even though no study supports this theory and experiences indicate otherwise. Here’s a very clear example of what the proposed tax cuts (especially for businesses) are quite likely to do (and no, this will not benefit workers):
NPR’s StoryCorps project consistently airs stirring and memorable stories. But the one from this Friday was truly exceptional. As the 5th anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School approaches, this deserves a listen: