An Intro of the Women who Confronted Jeff Flake, Rachel Mitchell's Report on Dr. Ford Under Scrutiny, and #EleNao Brazilian Women Rallying
Women Changing The Fate of Kavanaugh
If you were watching cable or broadcast network news this weekend, you saw in repeat and re-repeat two women confronting Senator Jeff Flake in the Senate elevator after he announced he was supporting Brett Kavanaugh. By means of introduction, these women are Ana Maria Archilla, an activist and currently the co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, who emigrated to the U.S. from Colombia at the age of 17 and has become a leading voice for racial justice, economic justice and immigrant rights in New York and nationally, first as co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York (MRNY). "I was doing the work of making my voice heard, bringing others to make sure that the decision was informed by the appearances of people who stood to lose so much." CBS Co-Host Norah O'Donnell asked Archila, "When that elevator door closed with Senator Flake, did you think that history might change?" "I did not think that," Archila replied. "I thought that the interaction that we had just had had touched him and that it had connected with a seed of perhaps doubt, and a sense of responsibility, that I was hoping he would seek in this moment of making such a consequential decision for our country."
Maria Gallagher the second woman is a 23 year old activist, who had been protesting at the Hart Senate office building and camping outside of Sen. Jeff Flake’s office to try reversing the course of Kavanaugh’s nomination. She never expected to see him in-person let alone speak out about her own sexual assault experience to convince him to vote no. “I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me, I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter.” She said. “Don’t look away from me.” With more power, she adds, “look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.” She told the Daily Beast "he wouldn’t meet my eye. It made me very angry. He kept saying thank you and I’m sorry and wasn’t taking into account what his actions would be doing to millions of people, and what this means for everyone.” Gallagher’s assault was coming out for the first time. She had never told her mother, who called her right after the event was broadcasted on TV, and in the midst of emotions, she declined to share details about her experience as a sexual abuse survivor.
As a result of Ana Maria Archilla and Maria Gallagher’s interference, Sen. Flake refused to vote in favor of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination without an F.B.I investigation, later on approved by President Trump and the Republican leaders. Though these champions have connected with Brett Kavanaugh on a human level, and succeeded to raise a sense of conscience and responsibility, on Friday October 5th, the Senate took a procedural vote to end the debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination. With the majority of the upper chamber having voted in favor, Kavanaugh’s nomination is advancing to final on Saturday morning. Perhaps the biggest disappointment in contemporary women’s rights.
Doubts Surrounding Rachel Mitchell
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford took center stage last week to share her sexual assault experience. Rachel Mitchell, the woman prosecutor who cross-examined Ford on behalf of the 11 white Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been undergoing national scrutiny. Mitchell has worked as a prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona as deputy attorney and chief of its Special Victims Division. Beforehand and for 12 years, she managed the bureau responsible for prosecuting sex crimes. Though she declined comments about her role in Ford vs. Kavanaugh, we know of her via a FrontLine Magazine interview, in which she offers help to victims most often supported by the younger conservatives. Until recent years, Mitchell has been firmly sentencing sexual assaulters such as Reverend Paul LeBrun for 111 years in prison for molesting boys in the 1980s. A decline in the quality of her work has been noticed when it comes to investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults when reported in Latinx and immigrant communities and by women. In 2003, Mitchell refused to prosecute a man for abusing his quadriplegic wife, who went on to write a harrowing memoir about her experience. In 2011, Mitchell granted a plea deal of only six months to a Jehovah’s Witness who was found guilty of assaulting a teenaged minority boy. The same year, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was the subject of a federal civil rights investigation for discriminatory police practices. As Mitchell stated in the interview, “false accusations are very rare.” But, we do know Mitchell has had to report to several white conservative men from Andrew Thomas, a close ally of Joe Arpaio and America’s most racist sheriff. Thomas used his office to open criminal investigations against his political opponents, especially those who questioned his immigration policies.
California Bill Controversy
Governor Jerry Brown signed a flurry of far-reaching bills in the last few weeks. The most significant and far reaching of these is SB826. The bill mandates that at the end of 2019, all publicly traded California companies must have at least one woman on their corporate boards. "The requirement ramps up in 2021: Five-member boards will be expected to have two female members, and boards with six or more members will be expected to have three.” The San Francisco Chronicle notes.
California bill won’t help women, explains Carrie Lukas in Forbes magazine. "Quota advocates note that more than a quarter of California's publicly-traded companies have no female board members. Adding one woman over the next year, and then one or two more depending on the size of the board before the end of 2021 as the law requires, shouldn't be a heavy lift. That's true, but ignores how such a quota will impact perceptions of the women who join these male-dominated board. Undoubtedly, many will assume that these new female board members weren't selected on merit, but to fulfill the mandatory quota. Rather than helping women advance, the quota could tarnish the achievements of women climbing the corporate ladder.”
The Only African-American Woman Representing Vermont Resigned
Vermont State’s Representative, Kiah Morris, the only African-American woman and second to ever represent the state, just announced her resignation because of unbearable harassments during a difficult personal time. She left a message on her Facebook page regarding the abrupt resignation:
Today, I officially announce my formal resignation from my position as the Vermont State Representative serving the district of Bennington 2-2. When I recently announced my withdrawal from re-election, it was my intention to continue service until completion of the current term which ends in January of 2019.
However, this time has proven to be one of significant challenge for my family. My husband is beginning the long physical journey of recovery following extensive open-heart surgery. We face continued harassment and seek legal remedies to the harm endured.
I step away now to focus on caring for and supporting my family during this time of transition and ensure our health, safety and well-being are prioritized. I want to thank the many individuals and organizations who continue to stand in solidarity with us, speak out, organize, donate and more as we press on the journey ahead.
TEAM KIAH is all of us.
Woman Activists Shot in Iraq
Human rights in Iraq are at present not that much better than before the Second Persian Gulf War. Last month, masked gunmen shot and killed human rights activist Soad al-Ali outside a Basra supermarket, in the south of the country. Suad al Ali is the founder of al-Weed al-Alaiami for Human Rights, an NGO that focuses on the rights of women and children. The assassination was particularly heinous because it occurred in broad daylight. The week before, she had been voted one of the country’s biggest social media stars. “Ali was tragically not the final victim of violence against women in Iraq this week as a renowned Iraqi beauty queen and social media sensation, Tara Fares, was gunned down in her car by unknown assailants (in September),” Al Araby reported. The fact that no one knows who killed her and that Iraq has a dubious record of holding fair trials raises questions as to whether or not any justice will be done.
Brazilian Women are claiming their rights
On Saturday, women in Brazil took to the streets in protest against right-wing frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro, who is regarded as a racist and misogynist. “Not him” was the rallying cry of tens of thousands of feminists against the right-wing Congressman. During a punishing campaign, he has argued as to why the wage gap in Brazil is not a major issue, and has argued on behalf of employers who do not want to hire women who might become pregnant. The hashtag #EleNao (Not Him) went viral on social media this weekend.
Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger
Rebecca Traister, a columnist at New York magazine, has written a timely and anticipated book “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, tracing the complicated history of female fury, and what that fury has meant for social progress, starting with the suffragist and abolitionist movements of the 19th century and ending with the resistance to the Trump administration.” The book has launched at a pivotal moment, just before the midterm elections of 2018, and after the much controversial outburst of Serena Williams at the US Open final. A couple of weeks ago, Traister spoke with the New York Times about her life, the book, and shared some interesting anecdotes. Find recap here.
Cover via Daily Beast