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June 2017 - President's Message
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President's Message - JUNE

Stacy Horth-Neubert
WLALA President 2016-2017

 WONDER WOMAN, COMEY, AND OTHER UNEXPECTED FLASHES OF FEMINISM-THIS MONTH, AGAIN, FEMINISM IS RIGHT WHERE YOU BELONG

 

I am not a crier.  Except at cheesy Hallmark commercials.  And kids' performances … of any sort.  And weddings.  OK, so maybe I do cry on occasion – but NOT during FIGHT scenes in block buster Hollywood films.  But here I am, about to confess that I am one of the many women[1] who got more than a little misty-eyed watching director Patty Jenkin's awesome movie, Wonder Woman.

In my defense, when I saw the movie, I had just come back from a three week, 230+ billable hour work trip overseas, was jet lagged and over tired, and was spending time with my family for the first time in way too long.  And there was some wine involved.  So it's possible I was particularly susceptible to some water works.    

But none of that explains why this not-really-a-crier, strong professional woman nearly hyperventilated when Wonder Woman rejected the latest in a series of well-meaning directives saying "No, you can't," and showed us all that "Hell yes, she can," confidently walking into the no man's land battle zone of war, ferociously and competently completing her task, and blazing a trail for the men to follow.  Making it all the more gratifying was the fact that the heroine is unapologetically a WOMAN, caring deeply about individuals and not just causes, pausing to coo at babies -- and looking damn fine in both her scholarly glasses/tweed suit costume and in her warrior uniform.  And she is strong and determined and does things the way SHE thinks is best.  And she wins, too.  

I recognize that Wonder Woman and my reactions to it will not resonate with everyone.  It is, after all, just a movie.  But in Wonder Woman, Hollywood gave those of us who, solely because of our gender, have been told "you can't be here," "you can't do that," "do it this way," "dress this way," "act this way," "don't do that," etc., an easily accessible feminist hero.  I, for one, am grateful for that very public, mainstream representation of feminism as a positive force for the world.

This week, feminism also has popped up in some negative ways in the real world.  The reactions of women across the country to the story of James Comey's interactions with President Trump fall in that category.

Let me start by saying that I am not going so far as to label Comey "the Feminist du Jour."[2]  Nor do I intend to express here any view as to whether or not Comey is telling the truth about his encounters with Trump and his actions (or inactions) thereafter.  History will be the judge of that.

But the reason his story sounds in feminism is that it resonates with those who struggle under the burden of unequal power.  So many of us can relate to Comey's story of feeling dread at being alone with this man of immense power, of being asked to do something he felt was inappropriate, of having his credibility questioned because he did not immediately publically report the alleged inappropriate exchange, and of having his name sullied by disbelievers.  Of course, the analogy to the sexual harassment of women has its limits.  But what is amazing is how instantly recognizable Comey's story was to so many women, particularly professional women.

Also amazing is what happened this week at Uber.  A billionaire businessman on Uber's board made a sexist joke at a staff meeting.  That's not the amazing part.  In fact, we've all heard some variation of this particular sexist joke:  In response to a statement that data shows that when there is one woman on a corporate board, it is more likely there will be a second woman on the board, the businessman quipped, "Actually, what it shows is that it's much more likely there'll be more talking."  Yes, that one again. 

Oh, and did I mention the staff meeting was called to discuss the results of a lengthy investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct?  But that's not the amazing part either.

The amazing part is that the businessman actually apologized.  And he resigned from the board.  Wow.  Of course, it helps that the original statement was made by fellow board member, Arianna Huffington.[3]  But still, wow.  As a proud feminist, I'd call that progress.

P.S.  To state the obvious, men talk far more than women in business meetings.[4]  That's not feminism, it's just facts.

 



[1]       See, e.g., Meredith Woerner, Why I cried through the fight scenes in 'Wonder Woman', Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2017, available at http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-wonder-woman-crying-20170605-htmlstory.html.

[2]       Vivia Chen, James Comey is the Feminist du Jour, The American Lawyer, June 13, 2017.

[3]       Tracey Lien, Uber board member resigns after making a joke about women at a company meeting on sexism, Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2017, Available at http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-uber-women-joke-20170613-story.html.

[4]       Mike Isaac and Susan Chira, David Bonderman Resigns From Uber Board After Sexist Remark, New York Times, June 13, 2017, available at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/technology/uber-sexual-harassment-huffington-bonderman.html.

 

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8/9/2017
Downtown Mentoring Circle Dinner