Women Are No Longer Biting Their Tongue

I recently met an extremely impressive businessman who is in his mid-70’s.  I did not spend a lot of time talking to him as much as my husband did but he said something that stuck with me.  It highlighted how his generation of white powerful men is eventually going to come to an end.  Unfortunately, we aren’t there yet. He asked about our kids and if our daughters were going to get married soon.  He said when our daughters get married, that I will have a big job ahead of me.  I saw his wife cringe.  That attitude is of a different generation because women of his generation did not have powerful jobs, become CEO’s of companies, be founders of their own start-up or believe to be to equal to anyone.  Their roles were different and women, for the most part, bit their tongue.  His reaction to me was genuine but his wife knew that times are changing or she would not have cringed.

Many are wondering how did our country get to where it is today.  How did we become so divided?  Pure and simple, it is about old white elitist men who want to keep power and make their big donors happy and the court obliged them.  It is not about the people that they represent but the very few that they represent.  It is one of the many reasons we need term limits including caps on how much each candidate can spend on running which will make the time that people campaign shorter.  It infuriates me that the only solution that candidates and parties are pushing is to give more money to the party of choice.  That doesn’t change how we got to a politically divided country that is using everything as a political pawn.

It is time for a change on so many levels.  The anger and angst among women I know says to me we need a new message.  One without anger and strife but with strength and reality.

Feminism needs a new tagline.  I keep thinking about that genius line that the character Reggie Hammond played by Eddie Murphy in 48 hours said.  There is a new sheriff in town and I would add that women are not going to take shit anymore.  We are going to call out abusers, we are going to say something if we don’t agree with something, we are going to run for offices, we are going to run companies, we are going to be embraced for who we are and no longer be treated as second-class citizens by older white men from different generations or even men of their own generation even it means being dragged through the media.  I hope we do it with a smile and a solid handshake and the winds behind our sails.

I fear that things will get nastier in the months ahead of us but let’s hope that positive change is ahead.  Women and all feminists (and that includes men) are going somewhere different and we need to be leaders with new words and a new message.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    And–The movement must must be inclusive of diversity, including obviously men.To miss that is to miss the power of this change.Inclusivity is the key accelerator of cultural shifts.

    1. Gotham Gal

      for sure!

    2. lisa hickey

      “Inclusivity is the key accelerator of cultural shifts.” Yes! Thanks for that. And thanks for continuing to stand up and speak about these issues.

  2. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Back in the early 2000’s I was deeply involved in activism in San Francisco, specifically around the issue of corporate personhood. One of the things that the people who mentored me in organizing really wanted to push for was ranked choice voting. If we’d had ranked choice voting, we wouldn’t have gotten The Terminator as Governor of California (he won with something like 30% of the vote).The reason I mention it is that we probably can’t get a campaign spending cap until politicians feel safe endorsing it (many would if they believed it wasn’t a suicide pill). Ranked choice voting, I think, could provide that assurance. It would also provide elected leaders more of a mandate, because even if your first choice didn’t win, at least your *second* choice did. I think it would additionally go a long way towards healing the divide because people wouldn’t have to feel like it was ride or die for a single party every time. The whole winners and losers framework would be dismantled (to a large degree).

    1. lisa hickey

      Yes! I am a big believer in ranked choice voting. The current system must change. I think the campaign spending cap will change only when politicians see the small donors/grassroots efforts exciting large corporate donations/PACs. It won’t just take “feeling safe”, it will take economic pressure, IMO. They need to feel endangered by the alternatives. But yes again to ranked choice voting (and more proportional representation). We need to get more leaders talking about it. We need to look at the long game.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yes, and I could have been much clearer that ranked choice would go a long way towards making a spending cap possible (vs making it sound like the sole solution).

        1. lisa hickey

          Ahh…another ‘aha’. Thanks for clarifying!

    2. Gotham Gal

      Agree. That is essentially what they do now in California so the first two at the ballot box could be Republicans or a Democrat’s.This party thing has got to go

      1. lisa hickey

        Aha! Perhaps getting rid of ‘the party thing’ is the one structural change that could help get rid of the divisiveness of this country. What a relief that would be!

        1. Gotham Gal

          It would be huge. Reality is that many Democrats sound like Republicans and some Republicans sound like Democrats. We could vote on what they believe without party affiliationWhat a concept!

          1. JLM

            .Parties are entrenched because they are where the corruption lives and thrives – on both sides. I find no party to have an advantage in the depth of their relative corruption.The parties run the show at the state level and have for centuries. They are established and entrenched. They are so corrupt as to belie cataloging the methodology of their corruption. In the last election, the Dems had put the fix in for Hillary before she even announced while the Reps tried to muscle Trump out the day after he announced.Trump has reshuffled the deck making it the establishment against the rest of the country. It is the establishment of both parties which opposes him.The establishment hasn’t given up yet on both sides. For goodness sake, the Dems are considering Joe Biden? Hillary and Bill are going on tour to re-empower his awkward Presidency and her two enormous failures. Colin Powell is giving lectures on the style with which Trump has brought N Korea to heel, something he couldn’t even begin to scratch as Chmn of the Jt Chiefs, Nat Sec Advisor, Sec of State.Trump did not cause the divisiveness. We got Trump because we were divisive. He played the game at the edge of the division and won. He rode the 2014 anger curve like it was Rincon in January (the big waves come to Rincon every Jan).If our discourse is going to be crowds screaming incoherently in the Senate chambers and pounding like lunatics on the SCOTUS doors, we will never advance an idea. We will engage in bare knuckle, winner take all politics. Make no mistake, the Trump admin is willing to do this and, now, the Republicans are willing to follow his lead.People become addicted to winning and become callous to the costs. Works both ways.We will never come together until we are ready to deal with the third rail of American politics – abortion. When Pres Trump appoints RBG’s (85) successor, Roe v Wade will be revisited. When Pres Trump appoints Breyer’s (80) successor, it will be overturned. Arguably the numbers will be 7-2.Nothing is going to happen in a positive way until the dialogue is conducted with civility and decorum. The recent Kavanaugh hearing was a disgrace to any thinking person.As a betting man, I don’t see it happening. Ever.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. LE

      If we’d had ranked choice voting, we wouldn’t have gotten The Terminator as Governor of CaliforniaYou have to admit that it is totally absurd how a well known name can win an election. How that attention ends up swaying voters. As if it’s a brand on the shelf at the supermarket. “Wow many choices let’s see what Paul Newman’s salad dressing tastes like!”.For the life of me it is so counter to the best possible choice that a guy like Cuomo is Governor because his father was Governor or a Kennedy gets elected and so on. But that is (unfortunately) the way that people think and make choices. (Or obviously Trump). Or people who get elected as a result of good looks and that type of appeal.

  3. lisa hickey

    I’ve been fighting this battle for a long time. In the ad business, I was the first female Creative Director in all of New England. A two time CEO. The company I run now has been getting calls every time there is a #MeToo catalyst movement, and they ask the same question: “How do we get men to be allies in the #MeToo movement? You seem to be one of the few organizations with a plan.” Yes we are actively solving that particular problem.You might think people like me would be exhausted and overwhelmed. Instead, I read words like yours, Joanne, and they don’t just give me hope—they give me fuel. Thank you for your continued leadership.Social change takes a long time. 27 years ago, Anita Hill was part of a catalyst for change that ultimately helped build infrastructure into corporations called “HR departments”. Remember when they were non-existent? “HR” grew from hiring/firing to benefits to diversity and training—and relatively safe places for women to report sexism and harassment. It didn’t happen overnight, but without that infrastructure in place, I don’t think the current #MeToo movement would have unfolded the way it did.We can’t wait another 27 years. We don’t even have 10 years. After the climate report yesterday, my rough calculations we need 2-3 years to get women at the top of Boards, Corporations, Politics and Economics. And then 7 years to put everything we’ve got into saving our planet.It’s not enough to just act fast—-we must accelerate. I’m thinking about how women can accelerate this change the same way I would accelerate a scalable business model. My project for the day, lol.

    1. JLM

      .Anita Hill came on the scene in 1991 during the Clarence Thomas SCOTUS confirmation hearings, not 17 years ago. That was 27 years ago.Anita Hill didn’t have anything to do with the advent of HR departments in corporations. I was in business twenty years before that and the company I worked for had an HR department.The term “diversity” first came into the American workforce lexicon when Bill Brock, Sec of Labor, commissioned the “Workforce 2000” study, the first study of the distribution of the American work force by gender, age, ethnicity.In 2008, the San Jose Mercury News (in conjunction with CNN Money) spent five years investigating the hiring practices of the 15 largest employers in Silicon Valley which revealed the fact that fewer than 12% of all engineering hires in SV were women. Many thought that number was overstated.Those two actions are the source of the diversity effort in tech.Brock, BTW, was the scion of an uber wealthy candy manufacturing family from Tennessee who beat Albert Gore Sr for the Senate after serving 4 terms in the House. He was a Dem who converted to the Republicans and who served as chair of the RNC, the US Trade Rep, and Reagan’s Sec of Labor. He is a grad of Washington & Lee and I met him at a symposium at VMI (continguous to W & L in Lexington, Va) a million years ago.It was a Republican who started the entire diversity movement.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. lisa hickey

        I stand corrected on the Anita Hill timing—I knew it was ’91 so it was just a typo on my end. I’m going to correct it in my comment, thank you.And thanks for pointing out the contributions of Bill Brock and the San Mercury News. Agree that studies like that are critical for moving things forward.As for your ending sentence, I don’t believe the “entire diversity movement” was started by any one person. That is just not the way I see social change happen. And so, I also don’t think Anita Hill *started* the movement towards HR departments—just that the trial was a catalyst event that called attention to the issues and helped to get people to think about solutions in a different way. It took decades to implement and decades of CEOs looking at P&L’s to see how to make HR departments make financial sense. I’m with you, she did *none* of that. But people still talk about Anita Hill as a defining moment of change, and I don’t hear people talking about the Bill Brock or the San Mercury News study in quite the same way.I think #MeToo—27 years into the future—will be looked back as a catalyst moment. And I think the change it will most likely create is many more women running for political offices.Lastly, it’s not diversity per se I’m talking about, but more about systems that were created as solutions to help overturn systemic sexism. We’ve obviously got a long way to go, but there has been progress.

        1. JLM

          .When Anita Hill sat before the Sen Judiciary Committee, every Senator was a guy.When Dr Ford sat before the Sen Judiciary Committee, there were a lot of women.Women achieve equality in that many of them were as tone deaf and clueless as any guy. I thought Sen Collins public utterances were excellent. Not the content, but the fact that she commanded the nation’s attention, was taken seriously, held an important national decision in her hand, strode onto the stage and took power.What happened? Women who opposed her, savaged her. They didn’t allow diversity of opinion to exist. You cannot get the world to listen by screaming at the moon.Anita Hill’s exposure can be fairly credited with bringing that all male inquisitor picture to the world. She, herself, did nothing to make it happen. Her public ordeal did. In much the same way that Susan Collins did. Forget whether one agrees with anybody, just the power of the moment.Women candidates have been in the pipleline for a long time. It is not a recent phenomenon. HRC should have beaten BHO for the Dem Pres nomination the first time around. She ran an inept campaign. He ran a good campaign. The USA turned on a dime and said it found more joy in a black man being elected than a woman – a comparative virtue signaling bit of cynical calculus.What is driving women candidacies is the sheer quality of the candidates. Many of these candidates are simply the best people for the job. They would win in any arena at any game at any time. I have always preached and acted upon the simple notion that the best man for the job may be a woman.I drove my daughter to excellence on the simple premise she could do anything she resolved to do. [Famous Stonewall Jackson quote.]What is going to hold back women is candidacies like Kamala Harris who slept her way to the top by being the paramour of Willie Brown when he was the Speaker of the California House. She will never overcome that stigma. It sends a terrible message. Under the shadow of #MeToo, the Dems have to burn down the House of Clinton. His behavior and hers are both not up to contemporary standards of decency.There are women fighter pilots running for Congress from both parties. When women could fly fighters, the die was cast. They are not simply women. They are fighter pilots. They are killers. We have to become gender blind, not gender focused.Sexism is never going away. It doesn’t have to for women to succeed. In fact, a little sexism provides the fulcrum against which women can exert leverage to excel.The first men held to the #MeToo microscope are total scumbags – Weinstein, Rose, Lauer, Moonves — but they are also not the Everyman who will change society in much the same way that Madoff didn’t change the securities business.I have lived in the South since I had a choice about it. We need not to punish the bad guys, but to raise our boys to be gentlemen, to redefine masculinity as being a role which protects women as a sacred duty. Funny thing is that really good manners are attractive.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  4. DeborahJane

    but 74 is not “that” generation….they grew up in the 60s…. they should know better. When I worked in the stock brokerage business in the early 80s…I was point blank told by my manager…It’s a white mans world…no woman, no blacks. He continued with the fact woman had no drive for sales like men because we didn’t have to support families…he was probably in his 50s back then…so a mid 70s guy should be a bit more enlightened in my opinion…but as we can see….obviously not.

  5. icopaolo

    Joanne, you are an inspiration. I look forward to the day that women have the lion’s share of power across all sectors – starting with the political and corporate sectors. There is no doubt in my mind (and ample data) that women will make better leaders whose interest goes beyond self-benefit and greed. Thank you for all the great work you do and for your continuous and consistent support of these ideas.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I do hope that women will be those leaders as well!

  6. LE

    because women of his generation did not have powerful jobs, become CEO’s of companies, be founders of their own start-up or believe to be to equal to anyone. Well, if not obvious most men are not the following:1) Have a powerful job (most don’t, right?)2) Are a CEO of a company (where CEO I mean a substantial company not a small business)3) A founder of a startup (or even a traditional small business)Also I assume that by ‘extremely impressive businessman’ that he has accomplished a great deal, is rich in some way, and so forth. If not the case what made him impressive? Also did he look the part? Kind of like the old white Physician looks the part of the knowledgeable Doctor?It might be a start (for both men and women) to get away from this idea that someone is impressive as a result of what they have accomplished. I don’t mean that that isn’t a factor. It is of course it is. But there is more to people than that. You can take a person like Anthony Bourdain who was by all measures ‘extremely accomplished’ and impressive in a many ways (a totally rugged look for his age you’d have to admit; I wish I looked that good). But behind that was also a person with many issues and problems who at the core suffered a great deal and was unhappy. And flawed let’s put it on the table. My point is we should maybe move away from this idea of celebrating accomplishments as a way to note that people are important and impressive and worth listening to. The truth is that we all do this (at least most people that I know). Maybe if that were not the case men wouldn’t have to fear being the person who stayed at home and let the woman have the more ‘important’ job and career. Let’s face it. When have you ever felt that a man was ‘impressive’ if what he did was graduate from college and become a stay at home father?

    1. JLM

      .The focus of diversity at the CEO level is a waste of time and bunch of crap. Few will ever be CEOs.What is available is encouraging women to start their own companies and, thereby, become masters of their own destiny.My Perfect Daughter today launched her second startup.https://www.fastcompany.com…Here is an article from Fast Company about her new company which FC described as the Warby Parker of towels.I am convinced that Weezie Towels came from her Dad pushing her to play basketball with the boys when she was 10 years old. As an old white guy, I didn’t just talk about it. I did it.We make a huge mistake when we make war against any segment of our population. I don’t understand why stereotyping and discriminating against old white guys is any different than any other form of ethnic or racial hatred.Some of us old white guys are working hard to advance the causes of women. We just don’t talk about it. We do it. Exhibit #1 – My Perfect Daughter and her company.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. LE

        Perhaps people will be bothered that you are pushing your daughter’s company here, but honestly it is exactly what everyone should be doing to get their business and brand accepted. One thing I will note though (for others to learn from as well) is that for the PR they should definitely include a picture of the founders (such as appears in another short article that they appeared in.)My point is the generic picture (women in a tub clip art almost) is a waste of valuable space. So any picture should also include both founders and the product for sure. Maybe even a kitten or a puppy (I am serious).I know a bit about this having scored mention (and results) in the past including front page WSJ and NYT, USA Today (without the help of any agency etc). Just by creating an interesting angle. You can do that as well for your daughter since obviously you have deep knowledge of the news business and how it works and what gets the ink.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        You don’t boast about it, but I have observed and experienced you as a true champion of women.I wish your daughter well. What a smart business concept! She has a great CEO coach.

        1. JLM

          Thanks, Donna, that means a lot coming from you.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. PhilipSugar

          Here is the biggest thing. I don’t know where the truth lies in this whole mess. I don’t think anybody can know. Sure you can side, but there is no way to tell me you know.I do know women get and have been harassed, assaulted, etc.I also know for expressing the first viewpoint, people say that I condone the second. That has a chilling effect. Seriously chilling.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Women being harrassed is a real issue. Part of the experience of being a woman in the workplace has been learning how to fend off inappropriate comments or advances. Thankfully, that is the worst that I had to contend with. For instance, after a veiled proposition from the president of a large corporation that I worked for, my coworkers and I had a little laugh about it. My female boss basically welcomed me to the club afterward.Same is true of racial innuendoes that I shrugged off in those earlier years.Later in life I would have to forgive myself of complicity.During the Kavanaugh debacle, I heard an interview where a woman implied that the pendulum was swinging and that it would mean some men would have to go down unfairly as part of righting past wrongs.I reject this. As my mother would say, two wrongs do not make a right.Where the pendulum may swing is how we behave socially and the situations we avoid. This is understandable. But maybe it is also a matter of using good judgment.My husband and I are feeling vindicated about the way we’ve raised our kids and the types of situations we have taught them to avoid, the ground rules laid. But not just rules, attitudes toward members of the opposite sex.Yes, we need to challenge head on the culture that has been complicit in allowing sexual assault to be as prolific as it has been. It needs to stop! But the solution has many layers.It is not as simple as allowing any claim of assault to go unchallenged. At the same time, we do need to make it easier for a woman or girl (or boy) to come forward.I can’t accept that these are mutually exclusive.

          2. Gotham Gal

            Def not mutually exclusive

          3. PhilipSugar

            Well said.

  7. LE

    It is one of the many reasons we need term limits including caps on how much each candidate can spend on running which will make the time that people campaign shorter. Why that won’t happen? Because the big winner in that spending is the media. The media (newspapers, TV, social media) make out very well with all that money being spent on advertising for political campaigns. The win they get is enormous. In a very subtle way they are not going to do a great deal of pushing back and have bias to keep the existing system in place. I don’t mean they exert obvious control. But it is likewise impossible to get away from how much this benefits them all of the spending on political advertising. And how that will impact how they write about the subject. How do you get beyond that conflict?

  8. Merri Lee Kingsly

    It is amazing when you truly pay attention to the words of your conversations, what you truly learn about others views on life. For all the political uncertainty and uncertainty in our kids futures, I do believe this movement of powerful women’s voices will at the very least give our daughters opportunities they might not have had…but we need to lead by example starting now! I recently posted this article on my LinkedIn as I find it so unfortunate…time for change.https://www.bloomberg.com/n

    1. Gotham Gal

      Fascinating but unfortunately not surprising. Thanks for sharing that post