When Protectionism Is Not the Answer, Empowerment works!

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By Marilyn Fitterman and Marcia Pappas

We are long time feminists, and Former NOW leaders. We are deeply disturbed by National NOW and NOW-New York City calling for Governor Cuomo to resign before any investigation has been completed.    

We fought to make laws to help rape and assault survivors obtain justice without blame. We fought for state and federal laws to protect women from sexual harassment in the workplace.     

We fought hard for the right to say “no”.  Because of feminists and civil rights advocates, today a woman’s dress and past cannot be used in court as an excuse for rape. But today’s young women need to empower themselves to say “no” or just say that they are uncomfortable or not interested. If the behavior continues or there are repercussions, then they should then file a complaint.     

Furthermore, it is incumbent upon us to be reasonable or lose all credibility. We cannot expect men to read women’s minds. Women all have the responsibility to set boundaries.   The women in question had the power to say that they weren’t comfortable with the conversation. And indeed, only the one anonymous “groping” complaint rises to a criminal level and warrants investigation by proper authorities.    

It is a fact is that politicians put their arms around people and shake hands. People take cozy pictures so they can brag that they are friendly with a Governor. This is what many constituents want. And yes, heterosexual men do look at women and heterosexual women do look at men. If admiring someone is criminal, (or impeachable) most of our population would be in jail or out of work.      

People flirt, even if they don’t expect it to go anywhere. In this context we feel that many current complaints border on the ridiculous. The complainants have taken normal interactions and attempted to make them criminal and/or impeachable.     

We fought for our rights and to be heard in court.  We should not presume to go well beyond that right to demand that any person can convict and/or evict any person without proper context, trial or investigation. “Due process” is a cornerstone of our judicial system.  And, aiding the legislature in ousting a governor that the people elected, but they don’t like or whose job they want, without “due process” sets a precedent that will only harm women and people of color.     

As Democrats cannibalize a man with basically excellent feminist positions, the Republicans are in lockstep behind an anti-choice, bigoted past US President who is credibly accused of rape and various other crimes. So, hello Governor Lee Zeldin (R-NY). Yes, it is  this Trumpee Congressman is now exploring  a run for New York Governor. 

Marilyn Fitterman,
Former NOW NYS President
Marcia Pappas,
Former NOW NYS President 

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