Eight essays from women in policy, public affairs, and media.
Goings On About Town
By Elizabeth Drew
Washington has all the ingredients for inappropriate sexual adventuring. For one thing, it’s full of lonely people—in particular, men disconnected from their families. We owe much of this to Newt Gingrich, who upon becoming speaker of the House in 1995 told incoming Republican freshmen to leave their families back home so that the members could concentrate on their jobs in Washington. The nation’s capital is also full of ambitious people—young things setting out on what they hope is an ever-rising path to more important jobs, whether it’s the lobbyist who sets his sights on becoming head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the lowly congressional aide who longs to take the seat one day of the congressman or senator whom he is currently serving.
This heady brew of ambition, power, loneliness, and opportunity leads to extracurricular sex of various types and of various degrees of seriousness—short-term affairs to some lasting marriages…..
By Ana Marie Cox
Backlash to the #MeToo phenomenon hinges on two obfuscations. First, there are critics who fret that the discussion of predation at its heart is overly puritanical: a sex panic, as Masha Gessen would have it, on the part of censorious prudes who would forbid so much as a flirtatious glance between colleagues. Then there are those who speculate about a societal “rush to judgment” or “mob rule,” and who bemoan a lack of proportionality and due process. Both arguments miss the real context of the conversation: the workplace. The first set of criticisms elides the boardroom with the barroom. The second sees no difference between professional consequences and personal (or legal) ones…..
The Flirting Trap
By Eve Fairbanks
….When the constant reward for intellectual achievement, wonkiness, or political ambition is sexual appreciation, women may become confused: Will their intellects be treated not as ends in and of themselves but as “signals” of some other ambition?….
The Immoral Majority
By Sarah Jones
….The culture of the religious right is not, in my experience, one that celebrates a woman’s individual merits. We are weaker vessels to be protected, wombs to be filled. The privileges of men—professional, spiritual, sexual—delimit the borders of our lives. These kinds of doctrinal beliefs reside not only inside evangelical or fundamentalist churches. People with real power in this country are convinced of their veracity, and those people have tried, and often succeeded, to pass laws and implement policies that afford these doctrines official force…..
Gaps in the Market
By Heather Boushey
…. Marion Fourcade, a Berkeley sociologist who studies economists, points out that U.S. economists tend to be “more favorable to economic ideas based on free trade and market competition” than their British, French, or German peers. The economics job market in the United States is emblematic of this market-oriented preference. Job advertisements go up in the early fall; candidates are screened at the annual economics meeting the first weekend in January; and by early spring, Economics Job Market Rumors is abuzz with discussions. Everybody knows who’s on top and who’s not. ….. Because the process is so market-driven, the question that economists need to ask is whether gender and racial bias in the profession indicates something more troubling about economics itself. If men cannot overcome their sexism toward women when discussing the qualifications of female economists, then how can they assume that any job market—or any market—is free of discriminatory bias? If the market for economists isn’t efficient, what market is? ….
Domestic Workers, Too
By Ai-jen Poo
As the United States faces up to the prevalence and impact of sexual misconduct in the workplace, the consistent story we have heard from survivors, time and again, is one of power imbalance. Actual or perceived, the distance between power held by men and by women in this country has directly resulted in cycles of harassment, misconduct, and abuse from which our society has looked away for decades.
Imagine, then, the breeding ground for abuse created in the nation’s capital by some of the world’s most powerful men—and it is usually men—for the domestic workers laboring behind the closed doors of their Washington residences…..
She Called It
By Monica Potts
In 1996, the head of a small government agency called the Commodity Futures Trading Commission was a woman named Brooksley Born. …. When Born began her work, she became alarmed at the rapid growth and lack of transparency in the financial market for a complicated, relatively unheard-of product called over-the-counter derivatives. She wanted to better monitor them, and it was the kind of regulation her agency had the authority to do. But when Born started to push for new rules, a quartet of powerful economists—Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, and Arthur Levitt, all of whom were in charge of much more powerful entities—dismissed her concerns. …. When Born tried to regulate the market anyway—she and her agency had the authority to do so without their approval—their attacks on her went public….
My Year Zero
By Jill Abramson
…. When the Hill-Thomas hearings ended, everyone who mattered in Washington said the truth would never be known. It was a case of he said, she said. Jane and I spent three years reporting and unearthing new information that shattered this silly myth, which was just Washington’s way of avoiding painful truths, like the fact that a sitting Supreme Court judge had perjured himself. Washington is still a town that avoids painful truths. ….