9to5: The Story of a Movement Documentary Movie Review

Every social movement starts with a small step toward change.

The 2021 Netflix documentary, 9to5: The Story of a Movement is the real-life 9 to 5. In Boston in the 1970s, female office workers were second-class employees. Stuck in an administrative (aka the secretary) role, they were blocked from climbing the professional ladder due to their gender. Banding together, they raised their voice and fought for better pay, better opportunity, and against sexual harassment.

I loved it. My generation of women stands on the figurative shoulders of these women. Without them, we would still be making coffee and answering the phone for our male bosses. What was also apparent is that though it’s been fifty-odd years, the issues they experienced then are still being wrestled with now.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

9to5: The Story of a Movement is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Should Kathy Hochul be Elected For a Full Term as NY’s Governor?

There are a number of ways to get into a position of political leadership. One is to actively court the role. The other is to be thrown into the deep end when scandal forces one into leadership.

Last year, when former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped down due to numerous sexual harassment charges, his former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul took over the job for what would have been the rest of his term. She is also running for Governor as the incumbent.

Compared to her predecessor, I have no complaints (as of now). Her management style seems to be one of working with her staff and partners across the state, not one of intimidation and ego. That does not mean that it has been smooth sailing so far.

The decision to use taxpayer money to partially fund the building of a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills did not go over well. When she called into WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show last week, she compared it to the status that Broadway has with downstate residents (starts at 18:44). That makes sense, but I still think that the owner of the team should have put in some of their own money.

There is also the issue of her now former Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin stepped down due to an accusation of financial fraud charges relating to a previous campaign. Governor Hochul claims that she knew nothing about it. At this point, I believe her. Only time will tell where the investigation goes and reveal who knew what.

As of today, I see no reason not to vote for her in November. But we still have a few months to go and no crystal ball to foresee the cracks in the road.

Andrew Cuomo Has No Place in NY Politics

After a political scandal, the wise thing to do is to keep your head down and hope that in time, you will no longer be front-page news.

Former NY Governor Andrew Cuomo believes otherwise. He has announced that he will re-enter politics, though to what end remains unclear at this point. In his most recent ad, he claims that he made “mistakes”.

What he did was not a mistake. A mistake is accidentally brushing against someone in a crowded elevator. What he did to those women was textbook sexual harassment. This is a moral failing that in my mind, automatically knocks him out of whatever race he intends to run on. What is worse is that there appears to be a growing number of people who are supporting him.

This is nothing but a way to inflate his ego. He knows what he did was wrong. In this #MeToo era, actions like these do not go unnoticed or unpunished. The fact that he is downplaying it tells me everything I need to know about Andrew Cuomo. If he decides to run for office, he will not get my vote. I hope my fellow New Yorkers will do the same.

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Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence Book Review

In 1991, when Anita Hill testified that that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her, it was nothing short of earth shattering. Instead of letting the shame destroy her or pretend that it never happened, she took her case to Congress. This brave choice opened the door for victims of similar acts to get justice and ensure that the perpetrators got what they deserved.

Dr. Hill’s new book, Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence, was published in September. Building on her very personal history of experiencing gender violence, she explores such subjects such as bullying, rape, the constant threat to the LGBTQ community, and the mind blowing comparison to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. In speaking openly about such topics that are often buried under the rug or not taken seriously, she is challenging the reader to speak up, speak out, and ensure that these injustices are finally given the spotlight they should have received a long time ago.

This book is nothing short of mind blowing. If there was ever a fire lit under our collective behinds, this book is the match. Thirty years ago, Dr. Hill opened the door, broke barriers, and inspired multiple generations of activists to stand on her impressive shoulders. She got the ball rolling, it is now up to us to finish the job.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Impeachment: American Crime Story Review

Back in the late 1990’s, the impeachment trial of then President Bill Clinton was everywhere. His affair with Monica Lewinsky and the scandal that followed could not be ignored. One would have to be either living under a rock or under a certain age to at least not catch a whiff of what was coming from Washington DC.

The third season of the FX series, American Crime Story, focuses on the whirlwind that surrounded the Clinton administration following the rumor that he had an extramarital affair with Lewinsky, who was then an intern in her early 20’s. Clive Owen plays the former President. The four main female players are Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), Hillary Clinton (Edie Falco), Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson), and Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford).

What I like about this series is that it takes the sexism that was part and parcel of this this entire affair and turns it on its head. Nowadays, Clinton has been politically lionized in some circles for what he did while in office. But it is easy to forget that his reputation was that of a hound dog who was not above forgetting his marriage vows. The focus is not on him, but the women around them. Depending on the sources, Lewinsky (who is one of the producers of this season), Clinton, Tripp, and Jones are either mocked, ignored, or vilified for their behavior during this period. Instead of being portrayed as 2D stereotypes, these women are fully rounded characters and finally allowed to tell this story from their perspective.

The cast is fantastic. Owens disappears under a prosthetic nose and a southern accent. Feldstein gives her character the breadth and depth that she finally deserves after being a punchline for twenty plus years. Paulson’s Tripp is sort of an anti-hero. The viewer may not agree with the decisions she made, but we learn more of her than the headlines portrayed back then. For their parts, Falco and Ashford are equally good, trying to hold their own in a world that does not do them justice.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Impeachment: American Crime Story airs on FX on Tuesday night at 10PM.

Thoughts on Andrew Cuomo’s Resignation

When the sh*t hits the fan, a wise person knows when to call it a day.

Yesterday, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that in two weeks, he will be stepping down from his post. Kathy Hochul, who is presently Lieutenant Governor, will step into the job for what would have been the rest of Cuomo’s term.

It was the wise choice, if not the only choice. I have a feeling that if he would have continued to fight the charges, he would have been impeached, which given everything that is going on now, is the last thing we all need.

The sad thing is that this is how he will be remembered. Like Bill Clinton before him, his legacy will forever be tainted by his arrogance. During the worst of the pandemic, he used to come on TV everyday and talk about that day’s virus related figures. Compared to a former President, he was a reasonable and calming presence.

And unlike you know who, he knows when it is time to throw in the towel.

What bothers me is the following statement:

 “In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate.”

Was he living under a rock during the Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby cases? Did he not see the media firestorm and the career crash that followed?

If he was not aware, why then did he sign the anti-sexual harassment law two years ago? Or was he so full of it that he thought he was above the law?

The only way to end this chapter is to continue with the impeachment, even if he is no longer in office. If it is dropped, it says that one only needs to resign from their job. A message must be sent that there are consequences to such actions are unacceptable. If the Democrats upstate do not do this, they are as bad as the Republicans in D.C. who looked the other way when you know who was accused.

Should NY Governor Andrew Cuomo Step Down?

A political scandal is nothing new. It is as old as humanity itself. The question is, when does it get to the point in which the politician is unable to do his or her job?

Last year, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo became a symbol of how to deal with Covid-19. For months on end, he gave a daily televised press conference going over the most recent numbers of NYers who were hospitalized and/or killed by the virus.

Then the nursing home scandal erupted and his image became tarnished.

Last week, the Governor was accused of sexual harassment by several female employees.

If I am to be perfectly honest, I would have him step down. Though he gets major points for being open and honest about the Covid stats, that cannot wash away the both the fudging of the nursing home facts and these new allegations.

The fact is that sexual assault and sexual harassment (especially in the workplace) is still far too common. The only way we can stop it once and for all is to make examples of those who have been found guilty of committing such acts. If it becomes clear that the punishment is not worth the brief pleasure the harasser gets, then maybe we finally put it in the rear view mirror.

Best Movies of 2020

  1. Soul: Though it is marketed as a kids movie, the subtext of appreciating life feels appropriate and potent this year.
  2. Mulan: The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film Mulan rises above its predecessor, making it fresh and relevant.
  3. Emma.: Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Jane Austen‘s eponymous heroine, Emma Woodhouse, introduced as clever, rich, and handsome. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this adaption is entertaining, funny, and a lovely addition to the list of Austen adaptations.
  4. The Trial of the Chicago 7: The film tells. the story of the 7 men accused of being responsible for the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. Though it is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it feels very 2020.
  5. Portrait of a Lady on Fire: This LBGTQ historical romance between a young woman and the female artist hired to paint her portrait is sweet, romantic, and powerful. It proves once more that love is love is love.
  6. Ordinary Love: Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) are your average middle-aged couple. When she is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, they both must deal with the rough road ahead.
  7. The Assistant: Jane (Julia Garner) is an assistant to a Harvey Weinstein-esque powerful movie producer. She starts to notice things that don’t sit right with her.
  8. I am Greta: This documentary follows teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as she advocates for the world to pay serious attention to climate change.
  9. Mank: Gary Oldman plays Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz in a performance that is nothing but Oscar bait.
  10. #AnneFrank-Parallel Lives: Narrated by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells not just Anne’s story. It follows other young women who survived the Holocaust. Parallel to the stories of the past, the viewer is traveling with another young woman as she visits different countries in present-day Europe.

#MeToo in the Corporate World: Power, Privilege, and the Path Forward Book Review

Since the dawn of time, some in the upper echelons of the business world have believed that underlings (especially female underlings) are solely there for sexual pleasure.

#MeToo in the Corporate World: Power, Privilege, and the Path Forward , by Sylvia Ann Hewlett was published in the beginning of the year. In the book, Ms. Hewlett talks about how the #metoo movement has altered the way the sexual assault and sexual harassment has been viewed in the workplace. Using data, interviews with experts and victims, she analyses where progress has been made and where there is still work to be done.

I really liked this book. It is both academic and written for the average person. Two things struck me when I finished this book. The first is that white women are not the only victims. The other is that women are less likely to be given opportunities to climb the corporate ladder due to the fear of potential accusations.

I recommend it.

The Seneca Falls Convention Was Only The Beginning

Social movements, especially those whose focus is civil or social rights are rarely, if ever, declared victorious in a short amount of time. Recent American history tell us that that it takes years, if not decades or centuries for these movements to achieve their goals.

Earlier this week was the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. Held in Seneca Falls in 1848, it is the seminal event the Feminist movement in the the United States.

Next month, we celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment.

Looking back through history, I am amazed and awe inspired on the progress that not just American women, but women in general have made. I am from a generation in which a woman working outside of the home in jobs that are not traditionally “female” is completely normal. Women of my generation, if they marry, are marrying later in life. Our careers and our education is just as important as having a husband and children.

However, there are still battles to be fought. Women still earn less than male colleagues with the same experience and job title. Our ability to access safe and legal abortions is tenuous at best and depends on a number of factors. The chance of being sexually assaulted and/or harassed is still too high for my comfort. In my home state of New York, rape intoxication loophole has yet to be filled.

This generation of feminists stands on the shoulders of brave women who understood that the future is female. We honor and remember the gains they made, but that does not mean that our job is done. Until we have true equality, we must continue on the path that they paved for us starting in 1848.

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