October 12, 2019


Women Know How to Do This Now: Elizabeth Warren's pregnancy discrimination "scandal" explains how identity politics have changed since 2016. (CHRISTINA CAUTERUCCI, OCT 09, 2019, Slate)

Warren explained that the difference was simply the result of her decision to open up more once she went into politics. CBS also found two retired teachers who worked at Warren's school at the time and affirmed that there was a "rule" that expectant teachers had to step down around the fifth month of pregnancy. A year after Warren's departure, the Associated Press wrote that a new state rule would prevent pregnant teachers from being "automatically forced out of New Jersey classrooms."

In other words, the evidence supports Warren on this. But there's more to say about the fact that she started telling the anecdote differently around the time she started running for office. It's possible that Warren didn't interpret her dismissal as pregnancy discrimination in 1971, or that, with no grounding in progressive politics, she didn't see it as a noteworthy injustice. It's even more likely that when she explained her career path to others, as she did in her 2007 interview at the University of California, Berkeley, she didn't want to be seen as a victim. Some may see Warren's rephrasing as the mark of a lie or as a cynical play for political points. I see it as an indicator of the changing ways stories of gender-based mistreatment get told in mainstream politics.

To be taken seriously as leaders in politics and business, women have historically been told to project strength and power, to play down any parts of their histories that might encourage voters to imagine them as fragile, exploitable, or overtly female. Just last year, New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait argued that Sens. Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand were falling into a "victim trap" by presenting themselves, or allowing themselves to be presented, as people who've experienced sexism. "Within the ecosystem of the left, demonstrating that you have suffered harassment or microaggressions is a big win," he wrote. "But among the country as a whole, the dynamic is very different." A woman may find it harder to convince the nation she's "a figure of presidential stature," Chait went on, if voters think of her as someone who needs protecting, rather than as a protector.

Here's the interesting thing about the response to this Warren "scandal," though: Women responded not with sympathy for a woman who's suffered, or with general fist-shaking at the patriarchy. They related to Warren with deep-seated anger, born of personal experience. They flooded Twitter with stories of pregnancy and the workplace. Some said they'd been demoted or passed over for promotions when it became clear that they were expecting. Some repeated diminishing comments they'd heard from managers when they'd showed up visibly pregnant to job interviews. Some shared the stories of their mothers, who were ushered out of the workforce when they became parents in the years before pregnancy discrimination was outlawed nationwide in 1978. Others told of mistreatment that still afflicts pregnant working women, or any working woman of reproductive age, given that employers suspect she might get pregnant, someday.

By a few minutes after midnight on Wednesday morning, Warren had turned some of these anecdotes into a campaign video. "It's important to tell these stories," she said to the camera, after reading a few of the tweets. "This is how we make real change. We do it together." It had taken her just over a day to turn the initial allegations that she was lying into a rallying point for political action.

We get the incel influence in the Right, but do they not even know any women?
Posted by at October 12, 2019 9:43 AM