December 31, 2017

The single biggest social advancement of this year is arguably the #MeToo movement. In a few short months, it has raised awareness of the obstacles and issues women face in the workplace and has felled some very high profile men: Bill O'Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin, et al.

But for as much as it feels that we're dealing with the issue of men behaving badly, Rebecca Traister reminds us that the power structures--executive offices filled with largely white men who protected and/or turned a blind eye--that enabled these men to behave as they did FOR YEARS largely remains intact. So while having things like sensitivity training is good, what will make a substantial difference is for both the power structures to allow for more women and female input. Far too much of the framing of the debate is still being held to lend all the credibility and concern centering around white males. Traister:

We got to where we are because men, specifically white men, have been afforded a disproportionate share of power. That leaves women dependent on those men — for economic security, for work, for approval, for any share of power they might aspire to. Many of the women who have told their stories have explained that they did not do so before because they feared for their jobs. When women did complain, many were told that putting up with these behaviors was just part of working for the powerful men in question — “That’s just Charlie being Charlie”; “That’s just Harvey being Harvey.” Remaining in the good graces of these men, because they were the bosses, the hosts, the rainmakers, the legislators, was the only way to preserve employment, and not just their own: Whole offices, often populated by female subordinates, are dependent on the steady power of the male bosses. When a prominent alleged abuser loses his job, he’s not the only one whose salary stops; it often means that his employees, many of them women, also lose their paychecks, which are smaller to begin with. When men hold the most politically powerful posts, people who are less powerful than they are depend on them for advocacy and representation; complaints that imperil these leaders immediately imperil entire political parties, and ideological agendas on both the left and right.

Which is what makes the fact that MSNBC executives thought they were doing Joan Walsh a favor by saying she was welcome to continue to appear on MSNBC, they just "couldn't afford" to pay her for her labor and intellect--although they had the money for Hugh Hewitt and Joe Scarborough so frustrating. They are implicitly telling women--like Walsh, like Tamron Hall, like Melissa Harris-Perry--how little they are valued over white men who don't treat women like equals.

So, yes, let's hear it for the Resistance. But acknowledge we still have far to go.

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