Tag Archives: women’s issues

He Worked Very Hard and We Wish Him Well…

I’d really hoped not to hear this kind of phrasing coming from the White House today, but… He did it, the President of the United State said of domestic abuser Rob Porter, “He worked very hard and we wish him well.”  (MSNBC) No, that really doesn’t indicate that this Oval Office takes violence against women all that seriously.  I truly don’t care if he was the best paper pusher in the entire Milky Way Galaxy.  He’s a serial domestic abuser.  I really don’t care if he was the best filter of paper and proposals in the Universe. He’s a serial domestic abuser.   And, the President* didn’t take the opportunity to even mention violence against women.  What he said about a serial domestic abuser was that (a) he was gone and (b) the White House wished him well.

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Nevada.  The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence issued a report of 2016 statistics (pdf) on the subject, and it’s discouraging to see that there were a total of 64,457 contacts made to authorities/agencies about domestic and sexual violence during that calendar year.  11,197 were repeated contacts.  There were 24,567 “bednights” or overnight shelter provided to adults, and 1,411 provided to children.  There were 13,589 incidents reported to police, resulting in 6,433 arrests.  There were 5,128 cases in which the police were not contacted. There were 23,777 cases in which it is unknown if law enforcement was contacted.  Additionally, there were 18,164 cases in which the referral for possible action is unknown.

It’s not like domestic abuse and sexual violence are issues we can separate from other criminal acts or address with fast/quick solutions. The problem is cyclical:’

“Abuse tends to occur in cycles. It does not just go away and tends to get worse over time. Domestic violence and intimate partner violence typically, but not always, follows a pattern. There is a period of tension building; there is an episode of violence; and there is a time calm, or a “honeymoon” (Hancock, 2012). Research suggests the more severe the violence, the more chronic it is and the more likely it is to worsen over time (Lipsky et al., 2012).”

There is a direct link between domestic abuse and mass shootings:

“…mass shooters killed a partner or family member in 54% of shootings—which are defined as incidents in which four or more people are killed by guns. Between January 2009 and December 2016, 422 people were killed in domestic violence disputes; more than 40% of these people were children.” [Fortune]

And women are the most likely victims:

 “Over half of all homicides (55.3%) were IPV-related; 11.2% of victims of IPV-related homicide experienced some form of violence in the month preceding their deaths, and argument and jealousy were common precipitating circumstances. Targeted IPV prevention programs for populations at disproportionate risk and enhanced access to intervention services for persons experiencing IPV are needed to reduce homicides among women.”  (IPV = Intimate Partner Violence) [CDC]

Yes, to that last point because the 5th leading cause of death for women between the ages of 18-44 is homicide.  So, we should be taking the issue of domestic and sexual violence seriously because it’s a leading cause of death among women in the prime of their lives, because it’s part of an escalating cycle of violence, one that too often leads to the kinds of mass shooting which shock the senses.  And, no, I do not wish the perpetrators “well.” I wish for police intervention, legal consequences, the collection of comprehensive statistics, the development and implementation of prevention programs, and the closing of the “boyfriend loophole” for the procurement of firearms.

No more — no more excuses, no more attempts at amelioration, no more minimizing the problem, no more … Time’s Up.

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Memory, Convenient and Otherwise

Some of the rationalizations for supporting accused child molester and Mall Troll Roy Moore are truly interesting.  The lamest fall into the “I wasn’t there, so I don’t know” category.  Give. Me. A. Break.

I wasn’t there, but I’m reasonably sure Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of a unified China in 220 B.C.

I wasn’t there but I’m certain that on January 27, 1880 Thomas Edison received a patent for an incandescent light bulb.

I wasn’t there but I do know that on July 21, 2016 Roger Ailes left Fox  News under a billowing cloud of sexual harassment allegations.

So, give me a break — personal knowledge is not necessary to establish the truth of a situation.  Credibility is required, and if the women’s’ reports are credible then we can reasonably conclude that impropriety took place.  Those who have decided to discount the credibility of the women’s accusations do so at their own risk.  The first risk is that they are denying evidence which conflicts with their ideological bent. This isn’t what the world calls rational.  The second is that they are discounting evidence which in other circumstances they would admit (as if the accused was a member of another political party) thus rendering themselves hypocritical. Third, there’s a risk of discounting all allegations of sexual misconduct, as if men were never responsible for sexual harassment — this is painfully close to the “she made me do it” excuse.

We’ve had some problems with this third excuse over time, usually falling into the She Was Asking For It — category of justification.  She was dressing too provocatively.  She was moving on me.  She was where she wasn’t supposed to be if she were a nice girl.  No. This isn’t how it works.  Even though several courts in times past have allowed this defense.  That it was once a mainstay of male rationalization doesn’t make it so in the 21st century.  That bus left the station years ago.

However,  worst consequences are for the once proud Republican Party.  The Party of Everett Dirksen, Robert Dole, and Ronald Reagan is now the party of Donald Trump, Roy Moore, and Steve Bannon.  The Party that ran on family values and personal responsibility now supports those whose values are highly questionable and whose sense of responsibility comes to a screeching halt when they are called to account.

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The Age Old Problem

It’s getting more difficult to discuss sexual misconduct allegations, perhaps because we’ve not addressed the important question Ruth Marcus ask in her column today:

The national debate over sexual harassment and sexual assault has reached an important and precarious moment as it shifts from what behavior is acceptable to what punishment is warranted. Having under-reacted for too long, are we now at risk of overreacting?

She has made a salient point.  Is James A. disqualified from advancement because he patted a female fanny in times gone by? Is David B. disqualified from elected office because he has a documented history of advances on underage girls?  Must Kevin C. resign because three women accuse him of improper behavior in the office? Must William D. resign because he settled one or more allegations of improper behavior out of court with non-disclosure agreements attached?

In short, the more women share their stories, the more complex the situation becomes because every situation is as different as the individuals and situation involved.  Each of us is going to have to establish a framework for judgments, and there are some areas in which we should be in general agreement.

No one wants to be humiliated, objectified, and victimized.  If someone’s behavior has that effect on someone else, then it’s bad. Period.  Now, comes the hard part — how bad?

There’s Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, and Donald Trump level bad.  Multiple women have leveled multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct, some of which fall into the illegal activity category, against these men.  And, now, as Washington Post columnist Marcus suggests, how do we evaluate other, less serious charges?

Do we toss all the pigs to the wolves?  Must every Congressman, Senator, or Staffer resign at the first instance in which an allegation is offered?  Does every producer, reporter, business executive have to pack up the office after being charged in the court of public opinion? The One Size Fits All response certainly appears to simplify the problem but in fact may serve to make the overall situation more complicated.

No one should argue that a woman must feel any form of discomfort about coming forward to complain about crude behavior.  Period.  However, What does she do in a Zero Tolerance workplace about the co-worker at the office party who’s had at least one too many from the open bar and did something for which he apologized profusely the next morning?  Does it depend on “what he did?” On what he said afterwards? On how credible she finds his apology?

Perhaps one way to consider the problem is to operate from the premise: Believe the Women.  If she’s not satisfied, I’m probably not either.  If she is satisfied with the resulting actions, I’m probably OK with the solution.  I do reserve a modicum of skepticism for those whose allegations appear specious or whose persistence is all out of proportion to the available facts.  (I’m thinking here of a woman whose allegations were once dismissed by Ken Starr.)

I do advocate for a woman’s right to choose when to report instances of sexual harassment or misconduct.  It should be HER call.  Questions of assault, rape, and abuse are in another category in my estimation — these are legal issues in which the standards of the legal system should apply.  Meanwhile….

What do we do with garden variety creeps?  The fellows who don’t make physical contact but who can clear the room simply by being in it.  What do we do with the man who only refers applications from men to HR for follow up interviews?  What do we think of men who are perfectly comfortable with the belief that men should earn more than women for the same job because he’s supposed to be “bringing home the bacon?”

There’s one solution I think will work to mitigate the problems — hire more women, select more women, elect more women.  Then I await the day when some fellow in the interview waiting room worries that his suit may make him look fatter….

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The Power and the Vainglory: Roy Moore’s Sad Mad Power Grab

American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson described Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, without ever meeting him: “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”   The expression actually goes back a bit further in English literature, appearing as “counting spoons” in James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson.

“Why Sir, if the fellow does not think as he speaks he is lying; and I see not what honour  he can propose to himself from having the character of a liar.  But if he does really think there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.”

The metaphor has lost some of its relevancy in an age wherein table spoons come not just in pewter or silver, but in aluminum, stainless steel, and various kinds of plastic.  However, it holds its force as a description of the prudent response to voluble protestations of (self) righteousness.

Did we not wonder why the man was so vehemently anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-modernity?  Why he insisted beyond all reason that a massive monument to the Ten Commandments be installed in his courthouse?   Most counties are satisfied with a smaller, more tasteful, monument located on a nice piece of manicured lawn.  Not so Mr. Moore.  Most public officers were, at least grudgingly, willing to abide by the law of the land on gay marriage.  Not so Mr. Moore.

Most people in this country are willing to tolerate a range of beliefs, even if such beliefs are personally objectionable.  Not so Mr. Moore, who is essentially an eliminationist.  Those with whom he disagrees should be silenced.  Those of whom he does not approve must be incarcerated.   Some scholars have associated the Nazi eliminationism with native antisemitism.  The combination was violently toxic and heinously lethal.  Moore espouses a particularly vehement hatred of Muslims — they are to be excluded from public office and civil society.  Moore has decried that the “government started creating new rights in 1965.”  The date is instructive.  The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, and the decision in Griswold v. Connecticut was rendered in 1965.  Mr. Moore is nothing new on the face of the earth. He’s as old as patriarchal tribal conflict.

He’s as old as the theories of female responsibility for leading First Man astray, as old as the opponents of the cults of Isis, Aphrodite, and  Mother Earth.  There’s no single point of origin for misogyny, but Mr. Moore can find plenty of carefully selected Biblical passages to buttress his prejudices.  We could also assemble a number of equally carefully selected passages to oppose his views.  The common denominator for these views precipitate down to Power.  Not necessarily sex, but power of one gender over another.

This isn’t about a cultural issue, although support for Mr. Moore can be utilized as a “political wedge issue,” under the category of Culture Wars.  However, no matter how it’s implemented, it’s still not a cultural issue. It’s still about good old fashioned garden variety power.

Why else would a 30+ year old man seek the attentions of teenage girls?  Why else would a man grope? Not because it’s a form of play — but because it’s a display of power.  And that’s the last thing Mr. Moore needs to possess — more power over anyone, anywhere, anytime.  The good people of Alabama deserve better representation than that which is so sadly demonstrated by Mr. Moore.

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Filed under Nativism, Politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

It’s Always About the Girls?

ESPN’s Jemele Hill posts her truth:  Donald Trump is a white supremacist.  What do we get from the lectern in the White House? This is a “fire-able offense.”  Hillary Clinton goes on her book tour.  What do we get?  She’s blaming every one but herself — when in fact she admits some 35 mistakes for which she took responsibility.  What does the occupant of the White House do?  He re-tweets a bit of anti-Semitic commentary with a GIF of Hillary Clinton being hit with a golf ball.  It would be tempting to oversimplify this, but there is a pattern:  Women being hit, women being fired, or women being otherwise assaulted or attacked is acceptable. There’s a word for this — misogynist.

These would be part of the background noise associated with the current administration, except that the misogyny is part of the administration’s policy, witness the Department of Education’s reversal of Title IX protections for those who report campus assaults.

“Perhaps it should come as no surprise that this latest undermining of survivors’ rights is taking place under the administration of a president who has bragged about sexually assaulting women. An administration in which the acting assistant secretary of education for civil rights, Candice Jackson, suggested, in July (she later apologized), that for “90 percent” of campus sexual assault allegations the complainants regretted having sex, but weren’t actually sexually assaulted.” [WaPo]

So, are we surprised that the Department of Education is dialing back the protections for assault survivors on college campuses?  If we are we shouldn’t be.  The signals have been there all along.

We couldn’t really miss the images of the President barging ahead out of a vehicle, leaving his wife to exit on her own, or the images of him climbing the steps to Air Force One again leaving his wife to mount the stairs without assistance.  Or, images of him holding the umbrella over his own head, leaving his wife to stride in his wake perhaps hoping to get some protection from the rain.  If he will treat his wife with this casual disregard, what can we expect of his attitude toward women he doesn’t know?  Why would we be surprised if he tweets a GIF showing a woman being hit by a golf ball?

So, what do Jemele Hill and Hillary Clinton have in common?  One’s black, the other is white.  One is an experienced politician, the other is a sportscaster and analyst.  One was born in 1975, the other married Bill Clinton in 1975.  One attended Michigan State University, the other attended Wellesley.  What makes them targets from the White House lectern?  They are women.

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Filed under Politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

It’s Not 1950 Anymore

Women Workplace Back in the day, those days of uncompromising conformity, women weren’t in the workforce in large numbers. They had been. They were home now, advised by various and sundry home & shelter magazines to “make way for the boys coming home” from World War II.  Conventional wisdom said that nice girls got jobs in secretarial occupations, teaching (mostly elementary), nursing (not so much as physicians), and domestic service.  There were the outliers – the women who wanted to be accountants not simply bookkeepers; the women who wanted to design kitchens not merely cook in them; the women who wanted to be engineers crafting plans for automobiles not just driving the kids to Scout meetings.  However, for too long they remained the outliers.

Job interviews until relatively recently allowed men (who did the hiring) to ask women (who wanted the jobs) to ask about the applicant’s love life – the real question being “How long are you going to be with us before you get married and quit?”  Or, “…until you get in a ‘family way’ and we ‘have to let you go’.”

In a way the 1950’s Rules of the Gender Game were as deleterious to men as to women.  The entire onus of family expenses in white suburbs was on the man.  The ‘little woman’ could work for some ‘pocket money’ but this wasn’t considered completely within the Rules.  It was expected in white circles that African American women would work, after all “they had to,” – but again, not as the doctor, but as the nurse; not as the architect but as the cook.  It was all very domestic.

It was all completely phony.  How did so many women acquire basic  bookkeeping skills? Quite often They were keeping the household accounts.  Clean, launder, cook, and keep track of the mortgage and car payments; make sure the charge accounts were paid and the Green Stamps collected in the books for redemption.

It was all economically counterproductive.  How many elements of technological progress were delayed because a qualified women was passed over in favor of a less qualified man?  How many companies suffered because men were promoted and paid more than many over-qualified women, resulting in less overall productivity?

It was all potentially dangerous.

While the economic onus was placed on the male, the sexual issues came down on the female.  It was her place to “control herself.”  Boys would be boys, after all they just  “sowed wild oats,” but the young ladies – it, nay, IT, was her fault.  She wanted IT. She asked for IT. She deserved IT.  She dressed for IT. She didn’t resist IT. She was in the wrong place, the wrong time, doing the wrong thing and “that’s what happens.”

So, if he lurked around the water cooler making cracks about the fit of her sweater over the bra designed to define and shape the bust…that was also “what happens.”   If he didn’t mind a bit if she bent over to retrieve a file folder… If he wasn’t “really serious” if she showed a bit of cleavage, then she shouldn’t mind either. After all, department store catalogs of the era advised women how to dress to “please the husband,” or to attract one.

If the tenor of the times made the sopranos uncomfortable, gee, it couldn’t be more uncomfortable than those girdles with the hosiery clips attached?  Indeed, most men did treat their wives with respect, their children with courtesy, and their friends wives with civility.  However, that didn’t prevent  or indeed even much shame the troglodytes who delighted in patting fannies and snapping bras.  This activity didn’t go un-noticed but it wasn’t enough to make a ‘real’ man feel discouraged.  And that’s the point.

It isn’t 1950 anymore.  It’s no longer acceptable to opine sourly but quietly that Dodgy Roger at the garage is hassling the women in the office; Dodgy is going to find himself on the wrong end of an HR complaint.  It’s no longer acceptable to ignore Jumpy John’s continual disparagement of his female cohorts … it’s another route to an EEOC investigation.  It’s no longer acceptable to say “that’s his private business,” when men engage in obscenities and vulgarities in the workplace. It’s not business and if it’s in the workplace it’s not private.

The hard fact of life for vulgarian men is that while the general atmosphere of the 1950s allowed men to avoid some of the more quotidian consequences of unseemly behavior – boorishness and obscenity have never really been socially acceptable. To believe that they once were is to indulge in a fantasy past that never truly defined a reality; they are left with residuals which still make life more difficult for women.

To engage that fantasy is to forget that even in the 1950s invitations to a backyard picnic dwindled if the boor didn’t mend his ways; social interactions at church, in public, and in private diminished as the unacceptable behavior increased.   The difference sixty six years later is that real men do understand the meaning of ‘consent,’ and that real men are less accepting of marginal behavior.   Real women are less likely to remain quiet about sexual harassment and assaults, although they are still vilified for speaking out as if the entire burden of proper behavior is still attached to them.

She should have reported it. She should have reported it sooner. She should have reported it to more than family and friends. She should have reported it to the police. She should have …. When the real question should be: Why did HE do it in the first place?

So, no, it’s not 1950 anymore.  1950 wasn’t even what some contemporary boors imagine it to be.  Perhaps the best we can do is continually remind the boorish vulgarians among us that while progress has been made and there’s little room in contemporary society for their antics, we still have a ways to go.

We still have some distance to cover to remove ourselves from the make way for the boys mentality, the admonitions of the catalog sales department that a well fitting sweater could please him or attract him; from the uninformed attitudes that boys should be given more latitude than girls in matters of manners and morality.   I agree with the First Lady, it seems unconscionable that we’re still talking about the basics of human civility.

One of the most interesting questions surrounding our current election season is if we, as a society, are as willing to confront the agents of social aggression as we are to confront foreign acts of aggression?

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Filed under women, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Truck Attack on Reno Protesters; Trump Attack on Everyone Else

newspapers 1 ## The lead story on the Reno Gazette Journal website concerns two chubby white guys stalking and then driving a truck through a group of DAPL protesters in downtown Reno.  The two chubbies stopped a short distance away to “give their version of events” to police; fortunately there were no critical injuries sustained by members of the protest group.

## After the Citizens United debacle of a decision is anyone surprised that outside spending is a major feature of the Nevada senate seat race?  RGJ has more details.

## Perhaps it’s a measure of how “safe” the Nevada Congressional District 2 seat has become for Republicans that Mark Amodei is still backing Donald Trump:

“In the past couple of days every negative adjective in the English language has been used to describe Mr. Trump’s comments toward women,” Amodei said in the letter. “Frankly, the harsh criticism and outrage are, in my view, appropriate and deserved. Americans, in the final analysis, expect perfection, leadership, and someone they can be proud of as the leader of their country on the world political stage. At this point, sadly, neither nominee can lay claim to any of those traits.” [RGJ]

Amodei is now the only major Republican in Nevada supporting the Trump candidacy.  Maybe it’s appropriate to ask at this point – precisely WHAT has Secretary Clinton done that puts her even remotely close to the egregious behavior and insult driven campaign waged by the “deplorable” Mr. Trump?

The Benghazi Flap was a GOP manufactured pseudo-scandal upon which the GOP wasted two years and about $7 million dollars to come up with NOTHING.  The “emails” are another exercise in sound and fury signifying nothing.  If Representative Amodei is constructing his false equivalence predicated on these two bits of bombast, it’s a thin reed to grasp for the long run.

For his part, Mr. Trump announces himself unshackled from the Republican Party of which Rep. Amodei is a proud member, and launched one of his almost-patented Tweet Storms overnight.  Thus Representative Amodei places himself in support of the Donald J. Trump Insult-O-Rama:

Trump ChecklistThis isn’t exactly a list upon which to build a credible candidacy? For anyone. 

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