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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.