Posts Tagged ‘Oprah’

Connect the Dots: Women’s Time is Now

Monday, January 29th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

Women marched across the nation this month.

Women marched across the nation this month.

I’m big on connecting the dots. A plus B plus C … sometimes it adds up to D. Or in this case, W, as in Women. Here they come, politically. And long overdue.

In this case, making the connections wasn’t too difficult, unless you happen to be someone — a Republican, for example — who is genetically incapable of recognizing the gross disparities, unfairness and outright abuse that continue to confront women in America decades after an Equal Rights Amendment was proposed by Congress and failed to get the required number of states to approve it.

That’s a dot still to be connected, but there are plenty of others falling into place, suggesting a new era is about to burst the male-dominated political/economic bubble that has encased America for, well, ever.

The dots as I see them, in no particular order:

  • The Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal that rocked Hollywood, wrecking careers of powerful men throughout the industry.
  • The #metoo movement that grew out of the scandal as women in all fields, from TV to Silicon Valley to sports, found the courage to tell their stories of sexual exploitation by men in a position of power.
  • Many of those men losing their jobs as a result.
  • The Women’s Marches that began last year to protest the election of the misogynist-in-chief and grew this year as millions of women (and men) marched across the country to demand equality for women in the workplace, in politics, in the board room, in society.
  • Oprah Winfrey delivering a stirring speech as she accepted an award at the Golden Globes Awards, leading to a social media storm urging her to run for president. (Please, no, we’ve tried the really rich person used to giving orders with no government experience thing. But please do support candidates who agree with you, O. Generously.)
  • Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America and former Fox News anchor who won a multi-million-dollar sexual harassment settlement from the network, being named chair of the Miss America pageant board of directors after the male bosses were shown to be mini-Trumps. Former contestants were also added to the board, which was previously all-male.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, urging Democratic Sen. Al Franken to resign over sexual groping charges, saying Bill Clinton should have stepped down as president because of his sex scandals and urging Donald Trump to resign as president over sexual assault charges from a score of women.
  • Trump attacking Gillibrand with sexual innuendo on Twitter and unleashing a powerful backlash.
  • The doctor for the U.S. Olympics gymnastic team being sentenced, in effect, to the rest of his life in prison for abusing dozens of female athletes under his medical care for years. The athletes were given all the time they wanted in court by the female judge to tell their stories before the sentencing.
  • Women of color turning out en masse at the polls in Alabama to defeat a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who, as a district attorney stalked teen-aged girls at malls. The candidate, Roy Moore, had the support of Trump and the Republican Party. The Democrat won.
  • A record number of women, mostly Democrats, running for political office this year at the local, state and national levels.
  • Time Magazine choosing “The SILENCE BREAKERS,” the women who came forward with their stories of sexual harassment and assault, launching the #metoo movement, as “Persons of the Year.”
  • Hillary Clinton running for president, getting nearly 3 million more votes than Trump, and losing anyway because (1) the Russians interfered with the campaign, (2) Republicans didn’t care and still don’t and (3) she apparently rubbed a lot of women the wrong way.
  • Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii joining Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Connecticut as leading voices in the Democratic Party and speaking eloquently about economic equality, health care, gun violence, family leave, veterans, the homeless, abortion, immigration, jobs, the drug crisis — all for the most part ignored by Republicans.
  • Steve Wynn, financial chairman of the Republican National Committee, being forced to resign his position over numerous charges of sexual harassment and abuse of women over the years. The wealthy casino magnate is a major financial supporter of Trump and other Republicans.
  • Congress rewriting the rules (such as they were) for dealing with members accused of sexual harassment. Secret non-disclosure agreements are probably not going to be the norm anymore.
  • Female registered voters outnumbering male registered voters in the United States. They are also more likely to vote than men.

These are the dots. There are plenty more, but you get the idea. This is not simply a revolution about sexual predation — or an attitude of male sexual privilege, if you will. As I see it, it is an awakening, a moment of clarity, a realization that what was does not have to continue to be. Cannot be, in fact. Republicans are mostly clueless to the moment. Democrats ignore it to their continued ineffectuality at the polls.

You want another dot to connect? How about First Lady Melania Trump canceling out at the last moment on the trip to Davos with Donald? No standing stoically by her man. Someone said she sent him a private tweet: Dear POTUS, not going to Davos. Why don’t you see if Stormy Daniels is free for the weekend? Well, not free, but, you know, affordable.

Connect the dots.

Wanted: Heroes for the 21st Century

Sunday, October 14th, 2012


By Bob Gaydos

A couple of months ago, I watched a documentary on PBS: “Simon and Garfunkel, Songs of America.” In addition to being a musical tour de force, it turned out to be a moving history lesson of the turbulent times in which it was made, the 1960s. Interestingly, the film, tame by today’s standards, was shown only once by CBS-TV, in 1969, because its strong anti-war sentiments apparently offended too many sponsors. So kudos to PBS for rescuing it from the dust bin.

But my goal here is not to relive the ‘60s. There have been much more enjoyable decades to appreciate. Rather, it is to take something from that era and try to figure out its equivalent today: Heroes.

Watching the film and the footage of John F. Kennedy, I was instantly reminded of his powerful influence on America’s young people. We know today that JFK was, like all of us, a flawed human being. But he was an undeniable inspiration to tens of thousands of young people, who took heart and hope from his words and vitality. He connected with us. In similar, if less encompassing ways, so, too, did Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

And so I wondered, who do kids look to today for inspiration? Who are their heroes? I came up with next to nothing and set the idea aside until I could ask my own sons. Max, 20 and Zack, 18, if they had any heroes.

“Anonymous,” Zack said, without missing a beat. Max agreed immediately.

Having now confused many of my readers over 50, maybe even 40, I must explain that Anonymous is a loosely connected, international group of Internet communities that opposes efforts at Internet censorship and surveillance as well as taking on other causes its anonymous members agree is of benefit to the overall group. It hacks government and corporate web sites and delights in exposing the lies and abuses of the people in power in the corporate, political, military, media, you-name-it world. Members have been described as anarchists and freedom fighters. Its symbol is the famous — and now, ubiquitous — Guy Fawkes mask. Time magazine has named Anonymous one of the most influential groups in the world.

My response was almost as swift as Zack’s. Of course, Anonymous. It speaks to the voiceless millions of young people who feel they have been, to put it delicately, screwed by their elders. A generation that has been told there are no jobs for you, going to college anyway will leave you in debt for decades to come, and we don’t want to hear your whining so get out of the streets with your signs and out of the parks with your tents because we now outfit our police forces like small armies and they are permitted to use tear gas, peppers spray, rubber bullets, flash bang grenades, and clubs, if necessary, to make you stop reminding your elders of what a mess they have made of the world. Throw you in jail, too, because that’s where smart aleck, unarmed protesters like you wind up today in America.

End of speech. But to the point — today’s heroes will, of necessity, be different from yesterday’s I will allow for one possible exception, that being President Barack Obama. When he ran for the presidency in 2008, he inspired millions of young people. Some of that attraction has been lost in the subsequent four years, but Obama remains, and always will, a source of great pride and inspiration to millions of young, black Americans. History cannot erase his achievement, nor yet predict its impact on this nation’s future leaders.

But there have to be more. My sons also came up with TV personalities, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, also untraditional and altogether fitting in the expose-the-rascals genre. I also asked some friends who offered the likes of author Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and former congressman Dennis Kucinich, all worthy nominees.

I have more names, but I’d like to hold them for awhile. Compiling such lists is a process and one for which the Internet and social media are especially well-suited. I would really like to hear suggestions from you. dear readers. Truthfully, I’m even more interested in suggestions from your children and grandchildren who are in their mid-teens through twenties. Who are their heroes? Not sports or entertainment idols; heroes. If the kids are not at home, post this on Facebook or email them and ask them to respond. This is an interactive medium, remember?

I’ll come back to this topic with more names and, I hope, a better understanding of what it means to be a hero to today’s youth. Who knows, maybe that will contribute in some small way to a better understanding of how we can work together for a world that embraces all generations.