Friday, October 11, 2019

Elizabeth Warren was Fired for Being Pregnant

It was common practice to punish women for being mothers while holding a job. It still is.

Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash
Because we’re the only gender with wombs, women hold an odd place, even in modern-day culture. We’re expected, if not required, to bring children into the world above all else, even when pregnancy isn’t wanted, is inconvenient, or is dangerous. But once we’re pregnant, or mothers — or even women of child-bearing age — we become suspect in the workplace.

Suppose we have children whose needs might come first? What then? How does that jibe in a profit-motivated system where worker bees are required to work their asses off in order for their employers to make buckets full of money? What has to come first, the job or the kid? In this system, it’s the job. It’s always been the job.

I have no idea if Elizabeth Warren planned her pregnancy way back when she was a teacher, but I do know for a fact that she could be fired once her pregnancy began to show. I also know for a fact the reason for the firing would never be listed on paper as “pregnancy”.

The ignorance of those GOP “fact-checkers” looking for a record of Sen. Warren’s claims — that she was fired for having a child — is astounding. There is no record. Of course there is no record.

When I was a kid in school in the 1940s and 1950s, our female teachers were always known as “Miss”. If they were married, we couldn’t know it. If they became pregnant, we couldn’t know it. Why not? Because, while male teachers could have families and could even talk about them, female teachers had to appear asexual. No one wanted impressionable children to be thinking about female teachers having sex.

They had dress codes. They were walking, talking text books with no life outside the classroom. When one of them suddenly disappeared in the middle of a semester, we weren’t told they were on maternity leave, we were simply told a new teacher would be taking their place.

When I was in high school in the early 1950s, two of our teachers were married to each other. That was so unheard of we never stopped talking about it. To us it was kind of…delicious. And subversive.

But it wasn’t just teachers. Women with children were discriminated against in every work place. Women with children were a liability. Their loyalties would never lie with their jobs as long as there were children at home. Children get sick, they need care, they need nurturing. They are a distraction when the clock is ticking, the work piles up, and their employer makes demands that require a Hobson’s choice.

It’s never easy for mothers to put their best into outside jobs. Women with good paying jobs can afford good child care. Women with crap jobs paying too little aren’t so lucky. But every mother faces those days when their jobs demand their attention but their children need them even more.

Women need to be mothers first. That’s a fact. It’s also the excuse employers make to keep women down. Women have always been behind men in work pay, and the reason, often spoken out loud, is because women can’t devote as much time or attention to their jobs. Never mind that not all women are mothers, or that not all women still have children at home. They’re shoved into the same box because it’s convenient — because god forbid men ever have to acquiesce to the notion that women might be their equals.

You may have noticed that no woman has ever been President. It’s a big deal every time a woman wins a job over a man, no matter the title. Being a woman in a “man’s job” is a liability that we should have gotten over long ago, but there are still far fewer women in government than there are men. That isn’t going to change until attitudes change, and as long as the GOP holds the cards, that’s not likely.

When it comes to motherhood, America is a bastion of hypocrisy. Half the people in our country think there’s nothing wrong with forcing women to carry a fetus to term, sending the message loud and clear that their own ambitions will always have to take a back seat to motherhood.

At the same time, there are forces working inside our government to take away any protections families, including single mothers, might need to care for their children. Cuts in everything from health care to food stamps to housing allowances makes the children of those struggling families vulnerable. Our government refuses to take care of the children born to women who have few or no resources. Our government refuses to even see them.

But that will all change if a woman becomes President. Can Elizabeth Warren break that glass ceiling? Or Kamala Harris? Or Amy Klobuchar? The question now is, are we ready for a woman president?

I know. It’s a silly question. Of course we’re ready. We’re long past ready.

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(Cross-posted at Medium/Indelible Ink)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Twitter: The Essential Battleground for The Resistance

Public Domain - Pixabay

Last week, after Donald Trump, the purported President of the United States, learned the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives would, in fact, begin impeachment inquiries, he took to Twitter to tweet more than 100 times in a single day.  He went from whining, to bragging, to threatening a whistle-blower, to predicting civil war if we didn't stop messing with him.

Trump has latched onto Twitter like a leech on the jugular and uses it as an unseemly venue for official policy, as his own personal PR firm, and as the delivery system for threats and intimidation against anyone or any organization threatening to expose or topple him.

It's because he understands the power of Twitter better than almost anybody.

Almost anybody.

There are Trump acolytes, there are trolls, there are bots, there are masters of disinformation everywhere, but I'm here to talk about those of us working against Trump, using Twitter to do it.

We are the #Resistance and we never sleep. We're out there and our numbers are growing. For us, Twitter is a battleground, it's a staging area, it's headquarters for those leading the charge against the tyranny that is Trumpism.

We're the witnesses, the couriers, the voices of the opposition. We follow the good guys and shed light on the disinformation coming from the bad guys, and, if nothing else comes of it, we take satisfaction where we can get it: We know we're getting to Trump when he has to tweet more than 100 times in a single day.

Through Twitter, we get real-time updates on the battles raging on every front, and we send them on, like smoke signals, to the resistance pods all around the country.

Is there a protest coming up? We know about it. Is there a March in the works? We pass along the info, right down to where to catch the buses.

When this rogue administration abuses citizens or foreigners or refugees, we've read the first hand accounts from the victims or their families and we send out tweets to lawyers or scholars or social justice warriors who are known to us now and are ready to help.

When someone fights the system and is in danger of being harmed, we expose the abuses. We know who to tweet to give them a hand. Millions of us retweet the information to give it more visibility.

Twitter is a morass of bad information but it's also a funnel for good journalism.  When the press and/or the pundits get it right, we send their stories into the viralsphere. When they get it wrong, we show them the error of their ways--and we often win. We win because they can't ignore the Twitter warriors coming down on them, forcing them to look again.

Because the other side Tweets, too, we know their thoughts and see right through them. In mere minutes we can counter and dilute their lies. In mere minutes.

As with any war zone, there is a dark side. You may have noticed. There are forces working against the resistance, and they're experts at obfuscating and gaslighting. They're ruthless and formidable and sometimes terrifying. They come from every corner of the planet. Sometimes they're real and sometimes they're not.  It's easy to get caught up in a whirlwind attack meant to intimidate and shut the resister down, but the Twitter Resistance community knows the difference and spreads the word.

That's where courage comes in, and we're bravest when we're not alone. The list below is my own personal list of people to follow on Twitter. I look to them for expertise, for analysis, for inspiration. I trust them. I know they've done their homework, and I know if they make a mistake they'll own up to it.

If you're new to Twitter, don't be intimidated by its uniqueness. Embrace it. When you follow any of these people, be sure to retweet their tweets. Retweeting begets retweeting and, if it begets often enough, it sends a viral message to the opposition. There are more of us than there are of them, and we're real. Don't buy into the lie that retweeting does no good. Getting our message out is part of being a community. This is how we do it.  Commenting helps, too, even if you disagree. This is a dialogue, a conversation, a convention. Be a part of it.

These are our people and they're preaching to the choir, they're using their bullhorns to yell it loud, they're showing us by their light that ethics and decency are not dead. (Some of them are hilariously entertaining, but we need that, too.)

If Trump wants a digital civil war, we're way ahead of him. We're already at the battlements. New recruits are coming in every day. We're an all-volunteer army and we won't stop until we've stopped the madness.

So bring it on, fool.

Some of our Twitter buddies, in no particular order, with no particular significance. Check them out. This isn't a complete list, by any means, and I've left off both the politicians who are with us and the publications spreading the truth (because they're easy to find and I needed to save space), but it's a start:

Neal Katyal
Malcolm Nance
Laurence Tribe
Bryce Tache
Maya Wiley
Judd Legum
Kurt Eichenwald
Elie Mystal
Preet Bharara
Tim O'Brien
John Pavlovitz
Patton Oswalt
Charlotte Clymer
Mimi Rocah
Will Bunch
Dean Obeidallah
Bob Cesca
Ana navarro-Cardenas
Joshua Holland
Rachel Maddow
Howard Dean
Brian Beutler
Prof Helen
Charles P. Pierce
Seth Abramson
Molly Jong-Fast
Josh Marshall
Charles Blow
Neera Tanden
Roland Scahill
Joyce Alene (Joyce White Vance)
David Corn
Glenn Kirschner
Eugene Robinson
Sarah Kendzior
Jason Johnson
John Fugelsang
Kyle Griffin
Jim Acosta
David Rothkopf
Alyssa Milano
Adam Parkhomenko
Dr. Dena Grayson
Tony Schwartz
Joy Reid
Scott Dworkin
Andrea Chalupa
Michael McFaul
Lawrence O'Donnell
Mark Hamill
Soledad O'Brien
Norman Goldman
Aunt Crabby Calls Bullshit
Amy Siskind
Brian J. Karem
Debra Messing
Dan Rather
Asha Rangappa
Rob Reiner
Josh Marshall
Simon Rosenberg
Nicolle Wallace
Barb McQuade
Jill Wine Banks
Natasha Bertrand
Steven Beschloss
Renato Mariotti
Connie Schultz
Jacob Soboroff
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman
David Weissman
Shannon Watts
Susan Elizabeth (my daughter)
And me: Ramona Grigg. Because, as you can see, I know people.