Saturday, February 21, 2015

Missing Voices

I've been sitting on this for a while now. Sometimes I have a topic that I know I want to write about, but I'm looking for the best context in which to present it. And now a month has gone by and I still don't have the perfect way to say it. Should I just let it go?

No. That would almost prove the point I am trying to address. So, in the absence of perfection, here goes:

On January 26 Center Maryland published a piece by Josh Kurtz entitled Maryland's Mad Men. It paints an ugly picture of a culture of sexual harassment in Annapolis during the legislative season. A sample:

Talk to women legislators and lobbyists and advocates and staffers and interns – and I interviewed a dozen – and they all have a story to tell. About the delegate who isn’t allowed to have female interns anymore because he was getting a little too "hands-on." About the senior lawmaker who cut a woman lobbyist off with a "Not now, honey" when she began to speak during a five-person meeting in his office – while he was squeezing her leg. About the legislators who won’t meet your eyes because their gaze is fixed a little lower. About the lawmakers who insist on greeting you with kisses or whose "friendly" hugs always last uncomfortably long.

After this piece appeared, three bloggers in Howard County were quick to respond: Tom Coale, of HoCoRising; Bill Woodcock, of The 53; Jason Booms, of Spartan Considerations. All are good pieces. Read them.

But something was missing for me. As much as I appreciated the seriousness with which each writer addressed this issue, there was something I wasn't hearing. Women's voices.

We have bloggers who are women. None of us wrote about this. For me--I thought, I've had those experiences as a woman, but I've never been to Annapolis when the legislature is in session, so I guess I can't speak to this. And I let it pass. We have women in Howard County who have plenty of experience in Annapolis, but they're not bloggers. So they don't have a forum for their point of view.

Don't get me wrong. I have absolutely no criticism for men taking this seriously and writing about it. But that alone isn't the whole picture. As good as each post is, none of them ask for input. "Has this happened to you?" "What is your take on this?" "What do you think should be done?" As much I try not to be cynical, my gut response to the orginal article was, "Well, thank goodness a man has noticed this terrible thing. It must really be happening."

Tom, Bill, and Jason started a great conversation around this issue and I would like to see it keep going. I find that most people I know hate trying to post comments on Disqus, though. So, if you have something to say, don't let that stop you. Comment on Facebook or send me an email.

Don't stay silent. Add your voice.


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