I am not a “revolutionary.” I am committed to constant and measurable progress in the area of gender balance and gender equity. So much is happening, though, that it feels like this issue is experiencing a revolution!
One of the “happenings” is a backward look at the contributions to this cause of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The documentary RBG is a reminder of what this tiny, introverted, quiet woman did for women. I doubt you can see it without falling in love with her or at least seeing her for the heroine she is.
I saw it in the best of circumstances – with my daughter (an immigration attorney) and my granddaughter (third-grade Ella, age 8). The two adults in the threesome are both lawyers and both feminists — which means we value women as much as men and want women to have equal opportunities and equal pay for their work. We wanted Ella to see a role model and learn something about challenges that probably won’t greatly affect her in whatever work she chooses. Those challenges affected her grandmother less than they affected Justice Ginsburg and, 30 years later, affected her mother even less. As we left the theater, Ella said, “I can’t believe she couldn’t get a job just because she was a woman!” Yes, Ella, that is the way it was. It has changed a lot, in part because of Justice Ginsburg. And there is more to do!
Another event last month was seeing Harvey Weinstein criminally charged by the Manhattan DA, and then indicted by a grand jury, for rape and sexual assault. These crimes were either unreported, or the allegations were not heard or taken seriously, for over a decade. His lawyer distinguished between crimes and “bad behavior.” Yes, harassment takes many forms – a spectrum from annoying to criminal. All forms reflect conscious or unconscious gender bias, the objectification of women.
I do not celebrate the “comeuppance” of Mr. Weinstein. I celebrate that, finally, there is accountability for behavior like his and vindication for women he objectified. I celebrate that this may cause those who would be perpetrators to think more than twice.
A third event is the naming of the first woman to run the New York Stock Exchange. Stacey Cunningham now runs an organization that, 30 years ago, had a member’s lunch club with no women’s bathroom! She joins a list of women top executives that gets longer every month.
Probably the most important news is what the host of Meet the Press on May 27 called a political “gender wave.” A record number of women are on primary ballots for positions from city council to governor to U.S. House and Senate seats. In the U.S. House of Representative districts, 72 women are on the ballot (in six, two women will face off.) Even if women don’t take enough seats to shift the gender balance of the House this year, said host Chuck Todd, in the very near future, the House may actually reflect the gender balance of the public it represents!
Is it just me? Or do you see this as an unusual volume of good news for women’s equality? What else do you see showing our progress toward gender balance?