Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Time's Been Up

Doesn't matter if it's Bill Cosby, President Trump, singer R. Kelly, producer Harvey Weinstein, editorial director Lockhart Steele, CEO John Besh, news director Michael Oreskes, Minnesita state senator Dan Schoen, comedian Louis C.K., Ohio state representative Wes Goodman, journalist Charlie Rose, journalist Matt Lauer, Broadway casting director Justin Huff, venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, playwright Israel Horovitz, federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski, political analyst Ryan Lizza, chef Mario Batali, ESPN host Eric Davis, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, conductor Charles Dutoit, dancer Marcelo Gomes, Bank of America director Omeed Malik, Big Apple Circus clown Barry Lubin, casino magnate Stephen Wynn, CEO Wayne Pacelle, Hollywood manager Vincent Cirrincione, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce chief Jaview Palomarez or anyone else – enough. is. enough. 

And if women in your life are saying #MeToo and you keep insisting the movement has “gone too far” – go sit down somewhere.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Zora Was a Genius

You ever think about the slights and micro-aggressions you experience in your day-to-day? I don't, usually, but a few days ago, I remembered a particularly weird incident that happened when I was just out of college.

As I was finally working in my field full-time, my mentor and former Temple University instructor asked me to come in to speak to his undergraduate photojournalism class about what a day-in-the-life of a woman earning a living shooting images for a daily newspaper was like. I don't really remember much of what I talked about specifically or what questions I answered, but I do remember one student who would not look me in the eye and actually laid down across the edge of the table - flat on his back - as the class gathered around to see my portfolio. He wasn't disruptive as he stared at the ceiling, but his body language and behavior said he just didn't want to be bothered and had no interest in anything I had to say. I wrote him off as an insecure know-it-all idiot and kept it moving.

A few months later, we ended up freelancing for the same suburban Philadelphia newspaper and I was right: He as an insecure know-it-all idiot.

Whenever out of the ordinary stupidity like that happens, my first response is usually to be a bit taken aback - in a "Wow! Did that just really happen?" sorta way. After a few minutes of processing it and trying to figure out what the heck would possess anyone to act in such a way, I next quite honestly feel a little stunned that anyone would have the audacity to try such foolishness with (or to) me. Then I channel my inner Zora and keep it moving.

But sometimes, I remember the bigger crazy and try to decipher what the deal was - like when:
  • I was 18 and working as an automotive sales associate in a department store one summer and a fool grabbed my butt as I lead him to the back to check out two tires he needed (I spun around with my fist up, ready to clock him square in the nose until I remembered I was at work which was the only thing that saved him). 
  • I was 26 and a man in the pharmacy I saddled up next to (when I was nine months pregnant and my swollen hands hands made wearing my wedding ring an impossibility) who looked over, saw my huge belly, immediately dropped his eyes to my left hand and sucked his teeth in disgust before turning his head away to look in the other direction.
  • A few years later when the elderly female owner of a house my (then) hubby and I were going to rent - which was about 400 meters away from her own home - took our security deposit but waited until we got home 30-minutes later to tell us she didn't think our living in such close proximity would "work out."
  • Four years ago when a male boss at a newspaper I was working for refused to give me Mother's Day off because, although was the only female out of five editors on the desk, the men had plans to spend the day with their children or mothers. He said the same thing when Father's Day rolled around.
  • Two years ago when publisher of an area magazine interviewed me for the editor position I'd applied for, told me I was hired and she would connect after Thanksgiving to give me starting date details. By early January, after she never returned any of my calls or emails, I figured out that I probably wasn't going to ever get that "Here's your start date" correspondence.  
If I spent time examining each of the above, I'm sure I could find some plausible explanation as to why they went down like they did, but, I'm good. I'm sure I didn't misread or mis-interpret at all. And no, there isn't more to any of the stories than what is there, so the "yeah, but..." really doesn't apply.

Sometimes, people are ugly. Sometimes, they can do things to try to make you feel less than significant or important. Sometimes, they succeed.

But the option to straighten your crown, channel your inner Zora and step over the BS is always, always there. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Proceed With Caution, Please...

So, yeah, there are a lot of males who have behaved badly and are being called to the carpet for their past actions. Hats off to the women who have had the courage to step forward and display their inner turmoil in such a public way. Remarkable courage - especially since, as always, their motives, recollection of the events or their level of participation (whatever the heck that means) are all questioned. Yeah, still amazed that the "Well, what did SHE do to bring on such behavior?" is almost always the default - and also that it takes an average of four accusers before folks seem to be at least willing to accept the idea that the accused may, in fact, be a flaming bag of puss who fooled us all (one woman telling her story just never seems to be enough, strangely.).

But I’m also amazed that after all the sexual and workplace harassment awareness and legislation the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings ignited way back in the early 90s, we seem to be right back where we were before Anita Hill testified. Seriously, what is the deal with that? I thought we DID this already…

And what is up with assuming some men are just too nice, or too good at what they do, or too famous to have done what they are accused of? Please at least be open to the idea that even good people who have done tons for the community at large can - and do - treat folks very badly. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Also - a gentle reminder: The idea of inappropriate touching, advances, propositions, vocalized expectations of sexual "favors" and reduction of women to mere body parts happens. All. The. Time. Many, many women have and do experience it, and most of us keep quiet so we don't have to also experience victim blaming and being told to forget/ignore it when we do voice it to higher-ups. That being said, every woman's "This is what happened to me" story - and the "I don't believe her/them" comments - are potentially triggers for lots of people. 

There is a lot of emotional distress happening right now as a result of the headlines, make no mistake about it. Please don't discount that when you wade in to express your opinion. Women are watching. More importantly, young women - and young men - are watching, too. How we treat this thing collectively and individually will tell them a lot about how they are expected to behave.

This is a systemic issue that won't go away with one, five, 10 or even 100 firings or forced resignations. It's bigger than that, and until we recognize that, come correct and try to address all the contributing factors (the biggest of which, I firmly believe, is rape culture in this here land of the free), the piece-meal efforts will not add up to much of anything, and, as we're starting to witness, women will be blamed for calling out other folks' favorite politician, news reporter or entertainment company CEO.

Say it with me now: IT. IS. NOT. HER. FAULT. IT'S. HIS. Dismissing it away or referring to it as just a fluke, a "minor" transgression, or her word against his (and he said he didn't do it!) just ain't cool. So stop that - like, yesterday.

Words are powerful. Please use them accordingly.

Time's Been Up

Doesn't matter if it's Bill Cosby, President Trump, singer R. Kelly, producer Harvey Weinstein, editorial director Lockhart St...