#MeToo Movement Shouldn’t Be Exploited to Ruin Men’s Careers Without Cause

Has #MeToo Gone Too Far?

The #MeToo movement has focused on the responsibility of men in the workplace – but what about the responsibility of women?

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Feb. 12, 2018, at 7:00 a.m.

In 2017 a phenomenon swept the nation called #MeToo. Women began rising up all over the country to tell their stories about sexual harassment in the workplace, men exposing themselves to female subordinates and in some cases even sexual assault. Nearly every woman I know, myself included, had at least one story about grossly inappropriate behavior that made them feel vulnerable, compromised or victimized in their professional life, and finally we said, “enough is enough.” We started telling our stories, the media started paying attention and many men have been held accountable for these bad acts and paid heavy prices, and rightfully so. The worst and most well-known offenders have included Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose. Some have been people I know personally due to my work in politics. Certainly, there are many more who have yet to be exposed (pardon the pun).

But lately I have begun to wonder if this cultural shift has created a “ready, fire, aim” mentality where we immediately believe every woman who comes forward with a claim and refuse to give the men any chance to tell their side of the story.

Very recently, a friend of mine was fired from his job because a former subordinate alleged that they had engaged in a sexual relationship and that he refused to give her a raise, or an opportunity for promotion, because of it. He was fired, no questions asked. (Because, in this environment, if you ask for his side of the story, you might be accused of victim shaming or of being too tolerant of bad behavior.) Given my strong position on the issue of sexual harassment, I had some pretty tough questions for him. But when I heard his story, I saw a relationship that had been initiated by her well over one year ago, kept secret because she was already dating someone else (a superior in her same office, no less), and I saw no evidence that he had tried to hold her back. In fact, I saw evidence where he was trying to help her with career opportunities as late as just a few weeks ago.

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How Did Larry Nassar Get Away With Molesting Girls in Gymnastics for Years?

We Failed the Victims of Larry Nassar

How did we let this happen? And how can we do better?

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Jan. 25, 2018, at 12:00 p.m.

The case of Larry Nassar has pained me.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, Larry Nassar was convicted this week of sexually assaulting hundreds of girls and young women during his time as a sports medicine doctor treating, primarily, gymnasts as well as other female athletes in his roles at USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University and a series of gymnastics clubs in Lansing, Michigan. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.

I have paid close attention to this case for a long time. A young woman who is very close to me did gymnastics as a young girl in Lansing. She never encountered Nassar, in spite of many recommendations that she see him for treatment, because her parents made different choices for her medical treatment. But they are keenly aware that “there, but for the grace of God goes my daughter” because of the pressure the world of gymnastics puts on parents and young gymnasts. Many of her friends turned out to be victims. And she is feeling their pain today. It is also close to home because I lived in Lansing for a long time. I didn’t attend Michigan State University, but it was the center of the social scene in Lansing and I regularly attended events on the campus. I have personal friends on the board of trustees. I have met now-former MSU President Lou Anna Simon on several occasions, and I worked in the Michigan legislature with Rose Marie Aquilina, the judge who tried the case.

I have no personal connection to the Olympics, except that I am a fan of gymnastics and after watching Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and our hometown girl, Jordyn Wieber, for many years, I feel like I know them.

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Why Mitt Romney Should Not Run for Senate

Why Mitt Shouldn’t Run

The Senate would benefit from Romney; he wouldn’t benefit from being in the Senate.

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Jan. 5, 2018, at 10:10 a.m.

 

I’m pretty down on Washington, D.C. these days. It is a place that has lost its luster and prestige for me. It’s full of egos and agendas and political calculations which dictate behavior far more than integrity, character and moral leadership do. That’s why the U.S. Senate could use someone like Mitt Romney.

I know that Mitt Romney has his detractors, but almost to a person, they are people who don’t know him very well. Those that know him, almost to a person, hold him in the highest esteem. They view him as a person of character, integrity and principle. They know him to be well read, well educated and wise. They look at him and they see a leader.

So well-liked is he that Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, a rising star who had been considered a potential candidate for U.S. Senate, tweeted out that “If I was running against Mitt, I would vote for Mitt.” Wow. You don’t hear that in politics very often. Or ever.

I had the privilege of working on two presidential campaigns for Romney. After seven years of working for him, I admired him even more than when we first met. That isn’t the case for most of the politicians I’ve worked for. I spent hours, even days and weeks, on planes and buses with Mitt and Ann and their children and grandchildren. Even at the end of an exhausting day, he was unfailingly polite, courteous and generous with those around him. He is devoted to his family and they to him.

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A Compromise on Abortion So More Women Can Be Feminists

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Dec. 15, 2017, at 6:00 a.m.

I’m a Pro-Life Feminist

It’s time to compromise on abortion so that feminism can truly include more women.

 

As I contemplated my column for this week, I was giving serious thought to writing about feminism and how my views on that word had evolved over my adult life, when, low and behold, I scrolled through Instagram and saw that Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Year” is “feminism.” It seemed like a sign.

I was curious to see how the smart people at Merriam-Webster defined feminism: “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes”.

Yeah, I’m for that.

When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, my first perceptions of feminists were based on Gloria Steinem and women burning bras who looked like they needed a bath and a good underarm shave. I didn’t feel particularly drawn to that.

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How Congress Can Take Power From Members Over Sexual Harassment

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Dec. 8, 2017, at 10:05 a.m.

#WhatNow
2017 has been a remarkable year for women who have been harassed in the workplace, assaulted by powerful men and abused by a process that has too long protected predators and punished victims.

2017 is the year when women banded together, understanding that their collective voice was too powerful to ignore, and drew a line in the sand, bringing down some of the most powerful men in corporate America, and something tells me it’s only just the beginning. There are likely to be more executives brought down by news of inappropriate behavior in the workplace as companies begin to view these once valuable assets as not only legal and financial liabilities but also public relations disasters waiting to happen.

But there is a collective frustration among women in Washington and in state capitols across the country at the lack of justice when it comes to elected officials. Politics is different because there is no board of directors that can force the principal out of their job. Colleagues can call out their fellow member and hope that the public shame is enough for them to do the right thing and step away. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., seem to have succumbed to such pressure. Rep. Blake Fahrenthold, R-Texas, and Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., refuse to step down. And what if they don’t? Read More

Republicans Excuses For Supporting Roy Moore In Alabama Don’t Hold Water

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Dec. 1, 2017, at 6:00 a.m.

There was a time in days gone by when an accusation of sexual impropriety would be enough to end the career of a prominent politician. Just ask Gary Hart, who ended his 1988 presidential campaign after photos emerged of the married U.S. senator frolicking on a boat, famously called Monkey Business, with a young woman named Donna Rice.

In 1992 when then Gov. Bill Clinton ran for president, stories began to emerge about his pattern of infidelity and even sexual assault. An aide to Clinton famously referred to them as “bimbo eruptions.” And his wife Hillary stood by him. Many Democrats and even the leaders of women’s rights organizations tried to separate the professional from the personal and say that one’s personal life had no bearing on their professional life and that Clinton’s record of advocating for women’s rights should be the real focus. And with that, we elected someone who was, at best, a serial philanderer (Google Gennifer Flowers) and, at worst, a rapist (Google Juanita Broaddrick).


Although Democrats prefer to ignore reality, this paved the way for Donald Trump. When the Access Hollywood tape emerged of him bragging about grabbing women in their private parts and women came forward with allegations of sexual assault against Trump, Republicans rallied around Trump with a collective “what about-ism” that we had never witnessed before. “But what about Bill Clinton? He did the same thing!” and “What about Hillary? She attacked Bill’s victims and defended Bill!” Trump and his Svengali, Steve Bannon, even paraded Bill’s victims into the hall for the next presidential debate. And with that, we elected someone who, at best, engages in vile, “locker room talk” about women he encounters in professional settings and, at worst, was himself guilty of sexual assault.

 But Roy Moore is a whole new kind of low for American politics.  Read More

Me Too: Every Woman Has A Story About Sexual Harassment. This Is Mine

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Oct. 19, 2017, at 11:07 a.m.

#Me Too.

This time last year there was a hue and cry over an audio recording of now-President Trump speaking in rather derogatory terms about things he has done to women in the past. It opened the door to many stories about women claiming to have been harassed, assaulted and grabbed by the president. Much of the country believed the women and demanded Trump’s head. Much of the country dismissed his comments as “locker room talk” that commonly occurs with men and dismissed the accusations by the women as partisan attacks. But it started a dialogue. Women began to talk about the harassment or assault they had experienced at the hands of powerful men. I was one of the women who shared my story publicly for the first time on Facebook.

I was 23-years old in my first job at the Michigan State Capitol. I was bright-eyed and probably a little naive having recently graduated from a strict, religious university. I joined some of my colleagues at a bar where they were having drinks with some state senators. As the evening progressed I found myself sitting next to a senator, someone I knew but didn’t work for. I was turned away talking to someone on the other side of me when I felt the senator’s hand go up my skirt and grab me by the (well, you get the picture). I was stunned. I turned back and he simply withdrew his hand and went on talking to someone across the table.


As I felt the hot tears welling in my eyes I excused myself and left the bar. When I was alone the tears poured down my face. I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought about telling my sister who worked with me. I thought about telling my boss who was another senator. But in the end, like so many other women, I chose to remain silent. Why? Because in that moment, it was all a bit fuzzy. Had I done something to “ask for it”? Was I flirting and inviting that behavior? He wasn’t someone I was attracted to in any way, so I didn’t imagine I was intentionally “asking for it,” but was I sending the wrong signals? Then I began to worry that if I said something it might turn into a scandal and I might be involved in bringing down a Republican senator. Would that mark me as someone less committed to the party cause? Would I be seen as the girl that tattles and tells? Would I be seen as some kind of prude that can’t hack it with the guys? I had so many questions and not enough answers. So I said nothing.  Read More

Maybe I Was Wrong About Donald Trump Only Dividing America

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Oct. 12, 2017, at 2:40 p.m.

What if we have Donald Trump all wrong?

I spent the better part of 2016 railing against Trump. I tried my best to get my Republican Party to make a different choice, (virtually any other choice) to be our standard-bearer, to no avail. I was convinced that Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton and if he didn’t, would destroy the party and do great damage to the country. I was wrong about the first one. The jury is still out on the other two.

I watched as Trump, who had been on both sides of virtually every pillar of GOP orthodoxy (abortion, taxes, immigration, trade, guns, government health care, to name a few) gathered Republicans to his cause which was, in a nutshell “tough enough to beat Hillary.” And to most Republicans, that was all that mattered. Along the way, he attacked and belittled party leaders, members of Congress and fellow presidential candidates and showed no indications that he had any loyalty at all to the Republican Party, but was far more interested in his own personal brand and legacy.


So, I chuckled when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced that they had struck a deal with Trump to extend protections for “Dreamers”: undocumented immigrants who were childhood arrivals to this country, in exchange for a border security package that did not include a “wall.” Republicans across the country were stunned and horrified. The “deal” Trump made was to sign off on the Schumer/Pelosi plan. They were thrilled, he was happy. I have no doubt that if he could have signed a bill right then and there, he would have, before White House adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hard-liner, and Fox News host Sean Hannity got to him. Never mind that he had supporters who felt betrayed by his willingness to show compassion to the Dreamers. Never mind that the “deal” he cut was with Congressional leaders of the opposing party and did not include the leaders of his own party. Never mind, well, anything. The president had a deal. And that’s what he likes: cutting deals. We don’t know a lot about what Donald Trump actually believes about much of anything. What we do know is that he measures success by action. He wants to be the biggest, the strongest, the toughest, the “winningest” president that America has ever had. He doesn’t talk about principles and doesn’t subscribe to a conservative or liberal philosophy on any kind of consistent basis. Read More

Americans Are Acting Crazy About The Las Vegas Shooting And Gun Violence

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Oct. 6, 2017, at 6:00 a.m.

In the last three days, since the horrific shooting massacre that took place in Las Vegas, I’ve heard and seen some pretty crazy stuff. Some of it from otherwise very smart people.

The New Republic tweeted an article from 2015 called “It’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them.”

 A brief mention of the Second Amendment to the Constitution being a potential road block suggests that a “liberal interpretation” of this amendment by the Supreme Court is the problem. I don’t know, “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” seems pretty clear to me. But I’m no constitutional scholar.

Hillary Clinton tweeted: “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”



I am not an avid defender of silencers or the NRA, but this comment demonstrates a high degree of ignorance about how silencers work. Everyone I have talked to who knows about guns (and there are a lot more of them in Colorado than in Washington, D.C.) tells me that a “silencer” on the type of gun the Las Vegas shooter used would have only lowered the sound from “pop an eardrum” to “unbelievably loud.” An AR-15 fitted with a silencer is still at least as loud as a jackhammer.

I saw countless celebrities tweeting about the $5,900,000 that the National Rifle Association contributed to Republican campaigns in 2016 (according to Politico) as a sign that Republicans are “owned by the NRA.” They would never consider the other possibility: that these candidates have ideological reasons for supporting the Second Amendment, which the NRA supports. According to numbers from Open Secrets, Planned Parenthood gave $5,500,000 to Democrats in 2016 and spent another $10,400,000 against Republicans in 2016, but I’m sure this just reflects the well-intentioned, ideological thinking of those Democrats and not that they are “in the pocket of Planned Parenthood.”

Americans Are Fighting Over Free Speech And NFL Protests. No One Is Winning

By Katie Packer Beeson, Contributing Editor for Opinion | Sept. 28, 2017, at 10:55 a.m.

Everyone Is Fighting, No One Is Winning

When The Star-Spangled Banner plays at a public event, I stand. I face the flag, put my hand over my heart and I sing. Not a weak, whispery, lips-moving-but-no-sound kind of singing, but out loud. I learned early how lucky I am to be an American. That my grandparents had sacrificed to come to this country. I admire our Founding Fathers who sacrificed even more to declare independence from Britain and give birth to a new nation founded on the principles of liberty and independent thinking, not governed by the tyranny of a ruling class. So, to me, the flag represents the greatest country on earth. A country which fights wars to bring freedom to others. A country which sacrifices its young heroes to protect our freedoms and those of others around the world. A country that stands as a beacon of hope for the oppressed.

But I also recognize that this isn’t every American’s experience with America. Some were taught that Americans were white oppressors who brought their ancestors here against their will, destroying families and dreams and forcing them into cruel servitude. Some came here at a young age with parents who were breaking America’s immigration laws in pursuit of the American dream and now they are being threatened with deportation to their “home country” when, in truth, America is the only home they have ever known.  Read More