Women’s March in Washington Could Be Big



Chicago   Speaking of things that we don’t hear much about in recent days, you might wonder what’s happening to the women’s solidarity march that was announced in the aftermath of the Trump election for Washington, DC the day after the inauguration. Originally, styled the Million Women’s March, some pushback led to a name change, but every indication is that, publicity or no, the momentum behind this event is still moving forward.

Some enterprising apps developed almost immediately from city to city that priced quick trips that would ride overnight into DC and roll back almost immediately so that women were back home and working after marching the message forward. Prices were quoted at around $300 even as far away as New Orleans. Right after the election it was almost cheaper to fly into DC, but with momentum building such a flight is over $400 I hear. East Coasters were committing quickly, so it’s likely that much of the hoped for crowd of more than 100,000 crowd will roll south from Boston and New York, bounce over from Philly and Baltimore, and move up from Charlotte and Atlanta, and east from Chicago, Detroit and the like, as is normal for these kinds of mobilizations and marches. Social media also indicates that there will be satellite rallies and marches in many cities around the country where women will come together as well. It may be an undercurrent, but there’s still a buzz that indicates that women haven’t just seen the election as just another day.

Of course with anything looking at Washington on a weekend like the every four-year inaugural blowout, there are going to be complications. Informal reports recently have indicated that the women’s march is having trouble putting its footprints on the Washington Mall, which is the normal venue for events of this size and stature. Others with similar ideas seem to have been in line earlier for permits, so the exact route and venue are still unknown, but that does not seem to be dampening the crowd from what I’m hearing from women here and there.

With or without much attention, I have a feeling that there’s no obstacle big enough to get in the way of women having their say in Washington at the opening of the Trump Administration. There are open wounds and deep hurts that have not been addressed in any way whatsoever, and none of this has to do with the hopes and dreams some may have had for a first woman president. This is about women’s safety, women’s status, and an abiding feeling of new danger that has come to those who hold up half the sky, as the Chinese proverb stated.

Women are mobilizing to force a different future, regardless of the White House and its very personal outrages and offenses that many felt as women. Women also clearly want to be part of something that this generation sees as a pivotal moment in their personal and political history. Whether it’s home or on the Washington Mall, there’s a sense that many women want to be counted so that they can remember where they were and what they did as they greeted a new regime in government that is on the record as threatening them individually and collectively at every turn.

Whether in body or spirit, this will be the place to stand with the women of America.


Up-Standers, Answer the Call!

fhupstanderNew Orleans  I’m a “what’s next” guy. Good news or bad news, how do we respond, what do we do next. Resilience. Problem solving. Whatever, I try to manage the present and prepare for the future, respecting the past, but always trying to stay in motion to move forward. Not surprisingly, that’s been my personal response to the Trump victory. I understand and respect that it is not everyone’s default mode or reality though.

We were fortunate to have our daughter in town this weekend visiting. She was in for the traditional Scorpio celebration for her mother, grandmother, and herself. We had hardly ordered before she was asking how, or maybe not so much asking as telling us, people, particularly women and people she knew in the LGBT and minority communities, were feeling the changes in the national temperament. She was hearing and feeling real fear. She and many of her friends and colleagues felt they were being looked at differently and with more hostility than in the past. There were too many reports of recent catcalls. Her friends were on red alert, especially among men. If a man even looked at them cross eyed in this new environment, they were arms up and ready to respond. It was fight not flight, but overall still tinged with fear.

This was not an encouraging report from the land of millennials. What was encouraging was her report that people were issuing the call for more up-standers. I don’t even know if up-standing or up-standers are real words, but they probably should be. Up-standers are not bystanders. She had heard the term from elementary school teachers who talked to children about being up-standers as a response to bullying in school. Other children needed to be ready and able to be up-standers to stop bullies.

Calling for up-standers in all situations seems exactly the right response to these times and, in my view, all times. Men, women, and all people of good will who care about each other and this country need to be prepared to stand in solidarity and call out instances of misogyny, racism, ethnic slurs and prejudices, religious intolerance, and more. We all have to be ready to stand up and say, that’s not right, stop!

One of the depressing speculations during the recent election on the impact of women speaking out on sexual harassment is that a Trump victory along with many of his supporters, including the majority of white women, rationalizing his remarks and assaults, or even worse, denigrating the women coming forward as incredible, rather than forcing this into the open so that it finally could be stopped in the workplace and elsewhere, would in fact force in below the radar once again, making it harder and riskier for women to come forward in the future. We can’t allow that, and my daughter, her mother, and grandmother are right, they can’t be expected to carry the weight. It takes all of us committing to being up-standers and standing up and speaking out everywhere and anywhere that we hear or see instances of this effort to destroy the basic human rights of anyone, anywhere, whether the same or different than we are.


Shutting Down the Locker Room Forever

old-dominion-fraternity-photoJuneau    The Trump defense for groping and sexual assault seems to be, “hey, that’s what men do.” His rationale for the taped clips that have emerged is equally offensive. There was no apology, simply a rationalization, where he is essentially arguing that what he was caught saying a decade ago is simply “locker room” talk or, worse, that everyone does it. All men and women should be horrified to hear that lame defense, because it demeans all women and indicts all men by claiming that it is normal or, worse, that Trump is trying to pretend that’s just the way all men are.

Let’s be clear: it is NOT the way all men are.

Let’s also be honest. It may have been the way most men were.

It may have been the way many men were raised, but that was 50 or 60 years ago in this country. It should never have been, and it is not the way most men are raised now. It is also why we have seen a women’s movement rise up in this country and around the world. That cultural and systemic stain is why many men have risen to the challenge and tried to leech out the misogyny embedded in the dominant culture, which is not to claim the job has been done or even done well. Dealing with gender, like dealing with race, is a lifetime project and must be a constant concern.

We have to ask, where has Trump been that he still believes that this kind of talk and behavior is somehow defensible? Times have been changing, even if they haven’t changed enough, and women – and men – should never stand for this behavior.

A social media star and author, Kelly Oxford, tweeted last week:

“Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.”

The New York Times reported that…

“she was getting as many as 50 responses per minute: often-explicit, first-person accounts of molestation. A hashtag had materialized: “#notokay.” The Twitter posts continued to pour in through the weekend. And by Monday afternoon, nearly 27 million people had responded or visited Ms. Oxford’s Twitter page.”

How can that not make everyone want to weep? Reading some of the tweets was horrifying, but the hope embedded in this reaction is the swelling of a mass protest by women ready to not accept that this is somehow okay and pledging to stop the acceptance of “rape culture” that is so ubiquitous and that Trump now symbolizes. The pushback is everywhere from the disgust at athletes’ abuse of women to the implicit boycott of the new film, “Birth of a Nation,” because of the star and director’s involvement in a rape incident 15 years ago.

Times are changing, but they have obviously not changed enough.

Boys can’t be boys like they were 50 years ago. Boys have to be the men that treat women as equals and condemn and shun any men who do not. Men can’t hide in the way Republican congressman are now doing by pedestaling their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters and still say they support Donald Trump, because that demeans their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters and stops change.

The reporter on the Times story editorially wonders if Bill Clinton could have been elected today, rather that almost 25 years ago when the charges of his sexual misconduct were being made. The answer is pretty clear for many, that he would not be elected now, and we can see that answer in end of one political career after another in the 21st century. The answer also has to be that Trump’s behavior and attitude towards women means that he also cannot be elected today.

This notion of a “locker room” culture has to be bolted shut forever. This has to end now and forever.


Why Can’t Women Get More Protection for Sexual Harassment?

shutterstock_185374205Missoula   The starter on our 1979 Toyota fishing truck has been putting on a sketchy show. Sometimes, we turn the key, and the truck jumps into action. But, not once, but twice, I found myself looking at all systems saying go, but not a sound when I turned the key. Solenoid? I have been there and done that too many times, but usually there are telltale clicks before death. After jiggling and thumping the starter and anything else under the hood, magically, the truck has started again, but with a dawn drive from the Creek to the airport for two of our family, wisdom and the Boy Scout still stuck deep inside of me got me up at 5AM to drive the truck in for a some kind of diagnosis or repair. The mechanic said sometimes there’s a “flat” spot in a starter, where a jiggle and 8 or 9 tries will get past it. The drama alone and being more than 50 miles off-the-grid, said that $200 for a new starter and labor was a deal worth making.

On the other hand, here at the Break Café with Chaco while I wait for their call and read the paper on-line, staying off-the-grid this season until snowfall is tempting, if just to escape the news. I just read a long article which basically made the ultra-depressing case that even the recent horrific publicity of Bill Cosby, once a comedian, and Roger Ailes, once the Fox News hater-in-charge and power broker extraordinaire, being brought down below sea level over devastating charges of sexual harassment and worse in Cosby’s case, that there might be a blip where more women come forward, as they now have, to report sexual harassment on the job, but then it will be back to normal again.

Oh, my god, let’s be clear. Back to normal means sexual harassment on the job as one of the terms and conditions of employment for women. How can we pretend we are building a just society, and accept that such a circumstance is just part of being a woman and working?

And, why? Lawyers for women fighting sexual harassment and even experts at the EEOC were quoted essentially arguing that the act of going to court, whether justice won or denied, pretty much guarantees a woman future discrimination once they have stood up against such employer abuse and discrimination on their current job. Where once a judicial filing might have been lost in the weeds, one lawyer argued that now, a simple Google search by any interviewer or human resource person would immediately find chapter and verse on the woman and her complaint and she would be judged not a hero or a freedom fighter or a sister standing up for other sisters, but a “troublemaker,” and likely unemployable within the career of her choice.

Is there no protection for such secondary, secret discrimination? Rape victims in most communities are allowed their privacy and protection. Is this what we must now extend to women in order to bring peace and a semblance of equity to the workplace? And, if so, let’s get to work on it from the EEOC to the local courthouses, because this has to be stopped. None of us can allow our mothers, daughters, partners, or any woman to endure sexual harassment in order to make a living, nor can men agree to abide by such a condition, seeing, but silent, without permanent damage.

This needs to be stopped now!


Haters Going to Hide: The Trump Story Revealed

BN-ND016_IMMIGR_P_20160316182315New Orleans   There’s hardly room in the newspapers and weekly magazines these days for other news between the pulling of hair and rending of clothes by all of the pundits and data dogs about how they miscalculated the odds on the Trump nomination and their fumbling around trying to figure out the “who” of the Trump voter.  Judging by an article in Harper’s as one prominent example, the temptation is going to be to stereotype his voting base as whacko haters. 

Big, big mistake.  You can’t have a demagogue without the demos, the people, boiling with anger, and the candidate ready to meet it and move it forward.

Pew Research has also weighed in with some frightening news:  haters are not just going to hate, they’re going to hide.  Pew found that internet polls compared to telephone polling was finding another 8% or more of Trump support that was not willing to come clean talking to a semi-real person on the blower.  These are the monkey wrench folks everywhere in America who see a chance to flup the stuff up and show all of them, whoever they are, that they want to be heard and not just heard, but heeded.

Even more dangerous to my lights is that they are fired up and aren’t going to take it anymore, while Clinton supporters are on autopilot, snoring through the rallies or playing with their smartphones, while Rome is burning. 

The biggest fantasy is that Trump is going to change.  Not only is that not going to happen, but there’s every indication that behind the scenes, he’s getting high-fives and “git ‘r dones” from Republican politicians right and righter from Speaker Paul Ryan on down.  Whatever the rationale or fairytales they are telling themselves to try and put clothes on the emperor, they are almost universally in kowtow mode. 

Here’s hoping that women save us, and that Hillary actually figures out sooner rather than later how to play that card.  Reading about Trump’s private and personal interactions with women behind the scenes is a muckraker’s view of the slaughterhouse and the meat market.  Objectification is too long and dainty a word to describe the permanent, leering appraisal that seems to be Trump’s default.  This is a dirty old man!  And, he has been that way forever it seems.

Trump defines transactional politics devoid of principles of any sort.  In that sense he is the perfect representative of the modern political moment, almost startlingly transparent about the equation compared to all of the rest of the political class who try to hide the transactional nature of politics behind one artifice or another of pretense or philosophy.  As donors and opponents line up behind him, you can see the hopes for the main chance later, grifting the short game for the long. 

Sadly, there’s probably no better case study than Megyn Kelly, currently the queen of Fox News.  After being insulted in the vilest way by Trump and eviscerated by a boycott, she now props him for bringing her more attention, and exchanged her pride for an exclusive interview she hopes will propel her into the Oprah and Barbara Walters atmosphere.  She could have upped her game, instead she just signed up for the market exchange.

Here’s one thing for certain:  help America conserve water!  Take your daily shower after you read the morning papers, or you’ll have to take another one to wash off this filth before you leave the house. 


Want Women’s Vote, How About More Childcare and Eldercare

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Little Rock    You can stick a fork in it now. It’s done or, as they say, all over but the shouting. Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator from New York, and First Lady at the end of the 90s will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Think about it: that’s a huge first right there, but don’t take a breath, the Vandals and the Visigoths are still gathering at the city wall, so there’s a huge battle still waiting.

Many have argued in the last several cycles that the key to winning is women. Here’s the most recent case from inside the Clinton campaign, as quoted in the New York Times:

“Realistically, the most important part in all of this are white working-class women,” said Geoff Garin, a pollster and strategist on Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 campaign who is now advising Priorities [a super PAC], citing Mrs. Clinton’s emphasis on issues like equal pay for women and an increase in the minimum wage.

I’m going to make this argument again. And, probably again and again and again. It’s time for Clinton to go big. And, if we want working-class women, black, brown or white, equal pay is fine and some bumps of the minimum wage are good, but that’s not going big, that’s just “me, too” on the dogpile. I’m not foolish enough to say what working-class women want, but from talking to them every day, I can tell you what I hear most often that they need: safe and affordable childcare and eldercare and a whole lot more of it.

I’m not saying that working women would pass up a raise or that their blood doesn’t boil when they find some dude making more and doing the same job, but what crushes their world and upends their whole lives is the inadequacy of care for the young and old. No matter how much mansplaining is trumpeting, how many more loads of wash and dishes are done along with school pickups and whatever, when push comes to shove more child and elder care still falls on women.

Inadequate and unaffordable childcare pushes women out of work and into precarious situations fraught with tension and stress. A real federal program that matched childcare vouchers with working mothers would create citizen wealth and family security. No near term increase in wages would equal the weekly savings most working class women would gain from subsidized childcare.

When it comes to adequate and affordable eldercare it’s a different and harder problem, because nothing exists in the formal economy. Home health aides have been godsends, but the reimbursement is inadequate and time-stamped, even while relatives are living longer and longer. No one believes that assisted-living is the real solution except for the well-to-do or those who can finagle Medicare and other resources. Nursing homes are last resorts. All of which invariably pushes the burdens to families, and dollars to donuts that means it is falling disproportionately on working women. Once again forcing many of them out of the workplace or into tenuous employment.

We need to do better for our children and our elderly and stop looking the other way and assuming we all live on farms still or in some kind of multi-generational Indian family in Delhi when life begins until death dost part. Want to breakthrough with women, let’s raise up some new issues that wedge differently, and talk about programs and subsidies that don’t just make it easier to make it another day, but change the whole character and expectations of working class quality of life.