Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Selena gets a Google Doodle, Bob Weinstein is accused of sexual harassment, and we missed an important aspect of #MeToo—read on for the story of the woman who actually created the hashtag. Have a great Wednesday.
• Hashtag hero. In yesterday’s edition of The Broadsheet, Kristen wrote about #MeToo, the hashtag used by women over the past few days to say that they too have been sexually harassed or assaulted.
A few readers of this newsletter pointed out that while Alyssa Milano was the catalyst for #MeToo’s current viral moment, community organizer Tarana Burke is the real hero behind the hashtag. (Thank you, dear readers, for your vigilance!) I caught up with Burke—director of Just Be Inc., a New York City-based youth organization focused on serving young women of color—to get the real story behind the hashtag.
A career activist, Burke has been working to support and empower rape and other trauma victims for the past decade. She tells me that her choice of the words “me too” was born from her personal experience with sexual assault, which lead her to realize that empathy is one of the “most powerful healers” for trauma victims. “There’s no other way someone can know you understand,” Burke says. “I call it empowerment through empathy.”
As an activist, Burke’s primary focus is “creating space for survivors,” she says. That means working to provide victims of all kinds of traumas opportunities to talk about their experiences: “There are ways that we need to have those kinds of conversations—and not just when a celebrity gets caught.”
While rape crisis centers exist, they aren’t always the ideal solution. One example, Burke says, is a center she visited in Alabama that required victims to bring referrals and statements from the police. “Young people are not going to do that. A girl who was raped by her stepfather is not going to do that.”
As for not always getting the credit for her work, Burke says she sees it as a symptom of “people not doing enough due diligence.” She is careful not to blame anyone in particular for the oversight—though she notes that “black women are often erased” from the common narrative—and says that just having this nationwide conversation is a win.
Still, she gently reminds me of the stark contrast between the attention the allegations against Harvey Weinstein have garnered and the little-discussed accusations against of R.Kelly. (Though the hip-hop artist has been sued several times for statutory rape, he has never been criminally charged.) “He’s been terrorizing black and brown girls for years,” she says. “But nobody’s paying attention.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• More #MeToo moments. #MeToo isn’t the only social media campaign making the global Internet rounds. France is in the midst of its own campaign to talk about harassment and assault (the accompanying hashtag is #balancetonporc, which roughly translates to “squeal on your pig”). Meanwhile, the men of Twitter are showing their support for victims and pledging to fight against sexual violence with the hashtag #HowIWillChange.
• Like brother, like brother? Amanda Segel, who worked with the Weinstein Company while an executive producer on the series The Mist, alleges that Bob Weinstein (Harvey Weinstein’s brother and business partner) pursued her for a personal relationship and didn’t stop harassing her until her lawyer contacted Weinstein Company executives and said she’d leave the show. A rep for Weinstein denies the claims.
• Another head rolls. Roy Price is out as head of Amazon Studios, less than a week after Isa Dick Hackett, a producer of the Amazon show The Man in the High Castle, went public with her complaint that Price sexually harassed her in 2015. Price allegedly “made inappropriate and crude remarks about his genitalia and then sexually propositioned her.” Amazon did not comment.
• What’s Dugan doing? Regina Dugan, head of Facebook’s secretive hardware unit Building 8 (and before that, a chief of the Pentagon’s research arm), announced yesterday that she will step down early next year “to focus on building and leading a new endeavor.” If that’s not enough to pique your curiosity, she later added, “There is a tidal shift going on in Silicon Valley, and those of us in this industry have greater responsibilities than ever before.”
• Trouble in Sacramento. More than 140 women working in California’s legislature — including lawmakers, senior legislative aides and lobbyists — wrote a letter that describes their experiences of pervasive sexual misconduct (groping, lewd comments and suggestions of trading sexual favors for legislation) while doing business in Sacramento.
New York Times
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Counterpart International has announced that Dr. Ann Hudock has joined the staff as SVP for Strategy and Growth.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Numbers don’t lie. While the stories of harassment and assault on my social media pages were heartbreaking, their quantity was probably (unfortunately) not surprising to many women. A new ABC News-Washington Post poll revealed that more than half of all American women—54%—have experienced “unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances” at some point in their lives. Nearly a third have endured such behavior from male colleagues and a quarter identified men with sway over their careers as the culprits.
• Celebrating Selena. Google’s homepage yesterday featured an animated video “Doodle” of the tragically short life of Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla. The Doodle showed her singing at home as a young girl, performing in cafes and parties, and finally, on a concert stage. The effort coincided with the 28th anniversary of Quintanilla’s first album, “Selena.” The marketing manager responsible said the Doodle had been in the works for almost two years.
• We’ve got enough on our plates. Jessica Bennett, author of Feminist Fight Club, attaches a name to something many women who work in corporate environments can probably relate to: “the office mom problem.” Among female employees’ common “workplace chores”: taking notes, planning social gatherings, cleaning up after meetings. Bennett’s suggested response for these kinds of asks: “No, I don’t have time for that today.” Podcast host Bridget Todd’s: “Oh, why do you assume I’m going to take notes? Because I’m a woman?”
• Sexist science. Angela Saini, science journalist and author of a new book called Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story, writes about the origins of the “biological” argument that women are less intelligent than men. While it was most recently touted by James Damore, author of the now-infamous Google anti-diversity memo, the theory that women are inferior intellectually is not new. “Indeed, the record of bad research and scientific bias against women stretches back hundreds of years,” she writes. One theory from the Victorian era? Too much intellectual activity might damage a woman’s reproductive ability.
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