I am starting to be afraid we are in a national, nightmare-level count of 1, 2, 3 when it comes to violence and discrimination against women. I am afraid that our higher and better selves--the ones that practice empathy and prioritize appealing to the innate goodness in all humans--the selves that remind us to 'wait and see' and 'collect all the facts' and 'assume the best'--are going to slow us down. In this instance, this would not be a good thing.
If someone is punching you in the face, you don't give him a count of 3 to make a better choice. You don't listen to his side of the story. Some bad behaviors are unequivocal. Sometimes there isn't a better choice just waiting to come out.
Yes. Stuff got complicated: There's the question of degree: Louis CK's behavior, as bad as it was, was objectively less horrifying than Harvey Weinstein's, what to do? Did Al Franken make one mistake for which an apology has been offered and accepted? Or is there a pattern? Why did white women allies rally more forcefully for #WomenBoyCottTwitter? These and related questions matter; they are the stuff of a more just and civil society, and we must figure out the answers to all of them so that we are better going forward.
But there are urgent unequivocal actionable facts that matter might now.
1. The United States Congress has used taxpayer dollars to pay off and silence women who were sexually harrassed by congressmen. How are we not marching in the streets about $17 million dollars paid to silence female victims. And what about the victims who were not paid off, who did not dare even speak up. Why are we not marching for them? Right now?
2. The amount of evidence against Roy Moore is substantial and the Governor of Alabama believes it, but she says she will still vote for him. She is a 'single issue voter,' the same as those who voted for then candidate Trump a year ago even though he was caught on tape admitting to vile, violent, and disgusting abuse of women. Why are we not marching in the street because a sitting governor is openly prioritizing a hypothetical future Supreme Court appointment that might hypothetically save hypothetical unborn lives in the future over the safety of women who are alive and being harmed today. Right now?
3. Our sitting president is on tape bragging about assaulting women, there are credible witnesses that corroborate his own descriptions of his own behavior, and he has faced no judicial or political consequence. Why are we not marching in the street for this? There sits an admitted sexual assaulter--an abhorrent, racist, stupid man who should not be leading anything and who has the monstrous gall to point fingers at other men who have done lesser things. Why are we not marching right now?
These three facts are enough, right now, for every woman and every ally to stop what they are doing, and stand up in the streets and public squares and demand justice. Now.
(Congress is not going to self-correct, no matter how many bills get introduced--between the geriatric lifers and the ones who are cowering, waiting for their own accusers to come forward, nothing is going to happen--not without us. The constitutional and legal stuff will come; we can and should wait for the rule of law. Robert Mueller will do his job. )
But we know, right now, what we need to know about the prevalence of sexual violence against women. We corroborated witnesses. We have the data. We have the letters written to administrators that went unanswered. We know the $ that were spent to buy silence. We have confessions. We have caught him on tape. We have emails. We have texts. We do not have to wait. We do not have to count to 3.
Here is what we should be doing instead.
- Uma Thurman, it is past time already, let's go. You got this--we will follow your lead.
- Rose McGowan, you have the email list, and we are ready; unleash the army.
- Others with platforms. Join together, build a coalition, give us our rallying points.
- Women of Congress (senators, representatives, staff, ) stand on the steps of Capitol Hill and refuse to do any other work, and we will come and join you.
- Women of universities (students, staff, faculty) go out on your quads and your commons and bear witness, and we will come and join you.
- Women in white collar jobs, get up from your desk, walk out the door and don't come back for a week. What are they going to do, fire you for protesting violence against women in the workplace? Every one of you has a #metoo story. It doesn't matter if it was in the past. It still matters right now.
- Women who don't have the privilege to walk out of their jobs, we see you, we got you, we will march for you and bear witness for you and amplify you and help you. Tell us your stories, we will carry them forward.
- White women, Lena Dunham, all of us, we got to get what we say right the FIRST time.
- Women of color, white women are going to get it right this time, we know we have to.
- Socialists, stand with the capitalists--the rights of women workers matter, right now. You can reboot your dirt bag edge later.
- Capitalists, stand with the socialists--they are a tonic to your worn-out and muddied thinking about social justice. You need it.
- Men who are allies of women, stand with us and bear witness.
- Christians who actually follow the teachings of Jesus, stand up against those who are doing violence in his name.
- People of all faiths, stand with each other for mercy, safety, justice and the love of your fellow women.
People, friends, brothers, sisters, look around you. There are more of us than there are them. We have to stand up for this most basic cause--the cause of safety, fairness, transparency, decency and equity.
It is not a time for counting 1, 2, 3.. It is a time to stop this evil behavior now. #rightnow