Women Are Always The Ones Cleaning Up….

The revelations about Harvey Weinstein–not to mention Bill Cosby, Donald Trump and a growing cast of other characters–have seemingly opened floodgates of pent-up female anger. The #metoo hashtag on social media, and the daily reports of confessions and accusations have been accompanied by a veritable tsunami of rage and recrimination.

Sex sells newspapers (or as we say these days, motivates clicks). But the attention paid to the problem isn’t just a way to sell media;  the revelations are clearly newsworthy, and the anger is justifiable. Most women–especially those of us who entered the workforce as so-called “pioneers”– can relate. We all have our stories, and I’m not exempt. On the other hand, we’ll be making a big mistake if our focus on sexual predators and harassment stories distracts from the emergence of another important wave of bipartisan feminine activism.

I think it is fair to say that a huge number of American women saw the 2016 election results as an existential threat to women’s equality and the well-being of our children and grandchildren.

The Women’s March was the first signal that–like Howard Beale in “Network”–we were “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” It was just the beginning.

Last weekend, I moderated a couple of panels in a day-and-a-half training event called “Ready to Run.” It was geared to women interested in running for public office at any level, and sessions explored the basics of a political campaign: research, fundraising, messaging. A couple hundred women from all over Indiana filled the ballroom at Hine Hall on the IUPUI campus: they were Republicans and Democrats and Independents, white and black and brown, Muslim, Christian and Jewish. Most had never run for or held political office–or thought they ever would.

But they were thinking about it now. Seriously.

What struck me about the attendees and their interactions and questions was a repeated emphasis on what they wanted to accomplish: a government characterized by civility and integrity–two words I heard over and over.

There’s an old saying in political circles to the effect that men run for office because they want to be someone, and women run because they want to do something. That’s obviously an unfair generalization, but the women I met at Ready to Run (like those working through Women4Change, one of the day’s sponsors) clearly want to make government work again. They understand government’s importance; they also understand that making government work properly will require research and knowledge–a familiarity with the operations of the agency or branch they propose to join, certainly, but also an understanding of the “big picture.” They are willing to study, to do the work necessary to acquire what I’ve sometimes called “constitutional competence”–a genuine understanding of our American approach to self-government.

Right now in Indiana, women have announced their candidacies for several Congressional seats and a number of legislative ones. Others are considering running for local school boards and city councils. If even a third of the attendees at “Ready to Run” follow through and win offices, we will see some pretty profound changes in Indiana. Even those who lose, however, will elevate the conversation and hold incumbents accountable.

Right now, a lot of women have just had it–both with the sexual predators who make it hard to do our jobs, and with the preening and power-hungry politicians who are more invested in their own importance than in making government work for its citizens. And when women have had it, things change.

It’s like that refrigerator magnet says: When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.


  1. Sheila:

    “There’s an old saying in political circles to the effect that men run for office because they want to be someone, and women run because they want to do something. That’s obviously an unfair generalization…..”

    I strongly disagree. It’s not UNFAIR.

  2. Sheila,

    It was a pleasure to meet you and thank you so much for offering your talent and expertise as a panel moderator.

    I was simply amazed at the quality and content of this conference. Jennifer and Christina and everyone else involved pulled together an event that was filled with inspiration. The speakers and panelists all offered valuable ideas and information, along with suggestions about what to do and what not to when running for office.

    As I drove home Saturday evening I was hoping that I can keep the feeling of being inspired alive. Many times you can attend a conference and feel energized and then fall right back into the same old rut. This felt different because there is a lot of support available out there and we only need to ask for it. I would not have known one bit about the inner workings of running a successful campaign, let alone the voter data that is available from the parties.

    I took copious notes to be able to share the info with other women and to hopefully use it myself one day in the near future.

    I met a lot of amazing women at this conference and look forward to staying in touch with those whose contact information I have so that we can support one another in meaningful ways.

  3. And so it begins: the denial by men of a credible statement by a woman in action about women who want to join in the action. My years in Indianapolis City government under Republicans saw the rise of women in government here; I saw only one abused the privilege of their power. The women brought in during the Goldsmith administration who disappeared the fastest were the ones who were doing their jobs to the best of their ability under appalling administrative conditions.

    In the words of Helen Reddy, “We Are Women, Hear Us Roar…In Numbers Too Big To Ignore”!

  4. I am willing to predict and support the women’s rise into bi-partisan politics to save The Republic that all men and women are created equal. “When truth is spoken, it stabs right to the heart of falsehoods.”

  5. The election of more women will only be the beginning. Once elected, they will struggle to maintain their purpose against the onslaught of entrenched career politicians and lobbyists who control the legislative process at all levels. Good luck.

  6. Someone once told me, “People go to New York to make money. They come to Washington to make a difference.” I think most of our elected officials believe they can achieve great things when they go to DC. I would caution all those eager young women to remember that real change doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be committed to the long haul and be willing to work toward your goal incrementally. You have only a slim chance of getting everything you want in a bill, but a very good chance of getting something you need.

  7. Nancy,

    Thanks. Put everything you have into “Ready to Run.” All hope is not lost. A dynamic surge in women empowerment is our only chance against the TSUNAMI OF HATRED that is about to crest in the name of the Alternative Right. If oppositional momentum is to be found in America, I would bet that it would start on the IUPUI campus.

  8. A woman must run against Jim Lucas. A hearing today in his committee would recommend a law permitting unlicensed carry. If it makes it to the floor next session it should be amended to provide amnesty to any woman who shoots an abuser/harasser you know where: not to kill, just maim

  9. Thank God Trump and the conservative woman on his staff are “cleaning up” the messes of this woman.
    The Hillary Self Destruction:
    I still haven’t figured out why she lost. Was it the Russian uranium deal? or was it wikileaks ? or was it Podesta ? or Comey ? or was it a sexual predator husband ? or was a staff’s husband Wiener immoral pictures ? was it subpoena violation? or was it the corrupt foundation ? or was it the congressional lies ? or was it the Benghazi bungle ? or was it pay for play ? or was it travel gate scandal ? or was it whitewater scandal ? or the Cattle Gate scandal ? Or the Trooper Gate scandal ? Or was it the $15 million for Chelsea’s apt bought with foundation money ? Or Comey’s investigation ? Or her husbands interference with Loretta Lynch and the investigation ? Or was it stealing debate questions ? Was it forensically deleting 30,000 emails ? The secret server in her house? Was it the Seth Rich murder ? Was it calling half the USA deplorable ? Was it the underhanded treatment of Bernie Sanders ? Was it the Vince Foster murder ? The Jennifer Flowers assault ? The Jennifer Flowers settlement ? The Paula Jones law suit ? The $800,000 Paula Jones settlement ? The lie about taking on sniper fire ? The impeachment ? The 6 billion $ she “lost” when in charge of the state dept ? The 10 million she took for the pardon of Marc Rich ? Or was it because she is a hateful & lying?
    Gee, I just cant quite put my finger on it, but it seems to be right in front of me.

  10. Becky,

    “Thank God Trump and the conservative woman on his staff are “cleaning up” the messes of this woman.”

    Why doesn’t Trump and the conservative women on this staff concentrate on cleaning up the MONSTROUS mess that he has created in less than a year? Or is that they can’t do anything positive for the country except to further divide it.

    What a terrible example of IDEOLOGICAL BLINDNESS.

  11. The issue in Washington, at least, and probably in governments at all levels, is that too many enabled, spoiled and supercilious white males make a disproportion of the laws, rules and decisions based on their egos.

    Women who run for office absolutely want to get things done for the betterment of their locale. They are nurturing by nature and don’t need to pound their chests mindlessly as they keep reaching under the table.

    BTW, the attacks on Hillary Clinton have been going on for over 30 years. There’s a reason that she has never been indicted for any crime: The white male Republicans are scared to death of her ability, power and compassion for the American people. They’re scared because they, mostly Republican white males, have none of those traits … except maybe having an insatiable lust for power.

  12. Ive worked and grown up with girls to women, married 35 years, happily,maybe two arguments, and nothing to remember. I always enjoyed helping someone to get a mans job. const,truckin,getting started. ive mentored someones kids,helped single moms when the holidays came around. i dont donate to the usual jars,pots,ive instead stood in line and gave someone who had only pennies to,pay for some food. no im not complaining,instead as a
    person,i give without looking. i grew up in a inner city,no games,few breaks,and where ever the ball fell, you did too. I dont look at women as another sex,I see a equal. sure i see beauty and a flirt once in awhile,but i dont squeeze the charmin. pigs like wienstein,are just a pig,and unfortunatly,he wasnt exposed due his influence. they sue,they denie,and the madia falls allover themmselves to abide for good news. again the media fails. and so do the people directly involved. hollywood can have the glitz and gliter,its mared sometimes in trash. metoo will help.but in the age of trump,or,until hes out, i suspect,this will be a new norm for awhile. what a few pigs need,are a good BBQ..

  13. There are a set of generalizations that from a statistical perspective describe 1) the female gender and, 2) the male gender and, 3) the human species. As roughly half of the species are each gender any description of the species must include the contribution of both genders.

    That’s where any thought of gender power or advantage or disadvantage must end. We are in this equally and have equal responsibility and ability to progress to better.

    Females and males must take advantage of who they are without regard to who they aren’t. That obviously applies to individuals as well as to any group, including the genders.

    There must be room for all at every table.

  14. I wish I could be so optimistic. My experience is that women are equally self-serving and poorly behaved in office. Despite cultural wisdom to the contrary, gender does not equate to goodness.

  15. Over it,

    I don’t think that women are anywhere near as self-serving than men in elected office. Nobody said gender equates to goodness. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are perfect examples of that. There are always exceptions to any rule, but there is a tendency for women to be less corrupt, egoistic and dysfunctional in elected office.

  16. Marv Kramer — “If oppositional momentum is to be found in America, I would bet that it would start on the IUPUI campus.”

    Considering that IUPUI is an Indiana state organization, I expect little or no opposition.

    But I’m on the lookout for action from students at University of California – Berkely.

  17. I saw Pelosi say last week or so that she has to stay in Congress because she was the only woman in the meeting of such and such, so she has to stay there so we have a voice. Or something like that. (sorry, still a bit feverish from this flu).

    Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that maybe she’s the only one at the table because she won’t step down! I really wished that a younger female generation would get involved in politics so that we had more choices! Maybe these conferences will allow that to actually happen!

    Consider this, when the right wing took over congress in 2010, we have barely had anything passed and who is in the majority? Men! That’s who. I’m getting quite militant in my old age against power hungry men and I want to see women in charge because if you want to get anything done these days, you have to do it yourself and get a woman to do it.

    Good luck Nancy!

  18. I disagree, Vernon. We have a tendency to equate typical female behavior to goodness and typical male behavior evil, I think primarily because it was in the interests of the church and the state to “civilize” males to form a productive, less warlike agrarian society. That does not, however mean that female motivations are any better or worse in an abstract sense than male motivations, and my personal experience bears this out in personal, business, and governmental happenings.

    That of course does not mean that females are not abused by the men who tend to have power over them, or that we should not do everything we can to stop that. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that female leadership would somehow magically improve the world.

  19. Over it,

    Who is this “we” you’re talking about? I think the proof is in the pudding. Where do you obtain your information that yields your opinions about female motivations?

    How, for example, could 52% of female voters vote for the swine, Donald Trump? That makes no sense whatsoever regarding BOTH of our points of view.

  20. Emily’s List is a supporter of Ready to Run, and I support both initiatives. Male representation in the legislative process is lopsided in proportion to the general population and, of course, there do need to be more women in positions of legislative power than we now have. However, I caution all to consider that some women have the mindset of radical right wingers and the Palin branch of ignoramuses, so selection of candidates to run as Democrats should be thorough lest we come up with a Sarah Palin in disguise to represent the party. Worse than losing is surrendering to the gerrymandering and not even running a candidate in many legislative districts. It may take years and many defeats to finally turn red states purple, but that is the price we pay for not putting up a fight and staying at home on Election Day. Personally, I want to know not what the prospective candidate’s gender is; I am far more interested in how he/she views the issues of the day and what he/she proposes to do about them. We need fewer Sarahs and more Amys from Minnesota and Pattys from the State of Washington – many more – fine liberals that they are.

  21. “The revelations about Harvey Weinstein–not to mention Bill Cosby, Donald Trump and a growing cast of other characters–have seemingly opened floodgates of pent-up female anger.”

    Begs the question, why did a majority of white women vote for Trump?

  22. OMG,

    “Marv Kramer — “If oppositional momentum is to be found in America, I would bet that it would start on the IUPUI campus.”

    My positive statement about the IUPUI campus had to do with “Ready to Run” and certain professors on campus. From an ideological perspective, Indianapolis with Mike Spence as Vice president and possibly President before the next presidential election is much closer to the political center of gravity than Berkeley.

    I admit I wasn’t very clear. This isn’t the 60’s. I don’t see student unrest on the campuses as a deciding factor.

Comments are closed.