After Naomi Tutu spoke at the IdeaFestival in 2009, she wrote “Amandla!” for power in my copy of her book about her father, Desmond Tutu.
We talked briefly about how to empower women and girls, and she suggested getting involved in women lawyer’s organizations globally and locally.
Not everyone holds women lawyers in such high esteem.
Take Thomas A. McAdam, for example. He’s the Pepé Le Pew tie-wearing, press conference-holding attorney for Councilman Dan Johnson, the alleged ass-grabbing, pants-dropping, my belt is too big circus-maker of Metro Council. In 2014 McAdam wrote on Facebook:
“Lady lawyers always remind me of those trained bears in the circus, that ride their bicycles around the ring. One is impressed not by the fact that they do it poorly, but that they can do it all.”
How exhausting it must be to constantly protect such fragile male egos, not to mention the exorbitant expense when victims complain publicly, and legal fees and settlement payouts accumulate. “Spare no expense” is the likely assaulter’s refrain to his lawyer when consent wasn’t obtained, whether it’s him, or you, the taxpayer, footing the bill. (Hint: It’s not him according to a recent letter from the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office.)
But, Councilman Johnson, unlike Trump and Weinstein, likely isn’t rich. And his power is arguable at best. So how is this guy still in office?
What is happening in our own Metro Council is a microcosm of the rampant fecklessness in our federal and local governments.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the similarity between the acceptance of President Trump’s belief that women are chattel to be used sexually as one wished (if you’re rich) and Hollywood’s long-kept silence about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation. By Weinstein’s own admission, consent isn’t a factor. While he begged a model to enter his hotel room for one minute and promised he wouldn’t hurt her, Weinstein said on tape that he is “used to” women saying no to him.
Some women are taking solace in the viral #MeToo campaign to make others aware of the magnitude of sexual harassment and assault. Yet, solace is a salve at best when lawmakers, civic leaders and even judges continue to victim blame and minimize predatory behavior. Their collective nonchalance translates as this message to women everywhere: You don’t count. Hashtag campaigns are great as far as they go, but mere decoration when what we need is a revolution.
We make up at least half of the population worldwide, and we’re still talking about equal pay, what a rape victim was wearing when she was sodomized, whether she was pretty enough or skinny enough to have really been sexually harassed and if the state can tell you when and under what circumstances you can terminate your pregnancy.
You have got be fucking kidding me.
But, the joke (and sometimes the joker) is on us.
The fabled War on Women of yesteryear?
The other Dan Johnson (we have two!), the legislator from Bullitt County, pre-filed a bill to redefine abortion, unborn child and fertilization and “require prosecution for the death of an unborn child without limitation and not withstanding [sic] any other state law regardless of the identity of the actor in Kentucky.”
The Trump administration through the Department of Justice said it didn’t want to be complicit in an abortion for a 17-year-old in detention in Texas in an Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter. The full District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the abortion to progress, in the end, yet the case is instructive as to how a state will treat its most powerless citizens.
Meanwhile, judges across the country impose light sentences on sexual assault defendants, basing the sentence on pedigree, affiliation, race and if the victim was attractive and fought back or kept her legs together.
Thus, my wartime message to you is the same as Naomi Tutu’s to me eight years ago: “Amandla! Power!” #MeToo