Why an #EconoMeToo Movement Matters

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Ten years ago, Tarana Burke began encouraging women to share their stories with each other. She knew they weren’t easy stories to tell. She herself had experienced sexual assault, and seeing how common it was, and how often women blamed themselves, she began #MeToo. Women learned they weren’t alone. Far from it. When they united, they became survivors and stronger. They could support one another to make change.

My book Screwnomics, more than ten years in the making, puts forward a similar idea. Screwing is not a woman’s word. It is a male vernacular made common in the world of money. It describes someone cheated, humiliated, and dominated. Most often we laugh it off.  But whatever your gender, or sexual preference, to be screwed means essentially to be made "female," or used against your will by a more powerful someone, who demonstrates he cares nothing about you. The use of this metaphor is now so common, we seldom think about its gendered nature.

Like Tarana, I encourage women to share their story with other women. Money tales are also difficult to confide. Money’s our last taboo, as loaded and shameful as sex—and often connected to sexual messaging and racial and gender identity. But together women can face what so often is painful and infuriating—and can be changed when we end our silence. Because of Screwnomics and  its workbook, Where Can I Get Some Change?, designed to help women claim their own economic story, women often confide in me. In the past month, I’ve heard diverse but similar tales. When asked if I can share them, they're afraid, and say no. They don’t want to go public, or be recognized. It feels too dangerous—and probably is. Until we unite.

That’s why we’ve introduced our new blog spot: AnonymousSpeaks. It’s an easy way to tell your story, which we promise to share in confidence, without using your name, unless you tell us you want to make specifics public on our website. How’s it work?

Just go to: https://www.screwnomics.org/ and you’ll see: What Is Your Economic Story? A big red button says: Click here to share!

We’ll respond and get your confirmation to make sure it’s really you. We may also request style edits, and reserve the right to publish only stories that our editors believe will be helpful to others. Feel free to share any solutions that worked for you, also. We’ll share it with our followers on Facebook and on Twitter, using #Screwnomics #EconoMeToo. Together, we are powerful.


The Lions and Lambs of March

March began by roaring in like a righteous she-lion with #MeToo at the Oscars, and Oprah's speech about the loud collapse of dozens of male bullies. These included two at the White House who resigned when a photo of an ex-wife with a black eye punctured their collective male denial of their crimes against women. Yet March showed no sign of leaving like a lamb.

All month we endured more stories of women’s bodies claimed as sexual property, bought and paid for—sued and countersued over then-candidate Trump’s affairs.  Pay-off money and unkept business deals to silence women before the election is part of that news-roar. A Playboy bunny and a porn star, young enough to be Trump’s daughter, both alleged that before sex he admired them for being as smart and beautiful as his daughter—ee-yew! http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/stormy-trump-compared-daughter-sex-article-1.3895543

NBC’s Heidi Przbyla and other women journalists have lately brought to the forefront a lamb that hasn’t gotten as much attention. Quieter, it bleats another tale of young female bodies treated as property. In mid-February, Planned Parenthood joined with eight local government, healthcare, and advocacy groups to sue Trump’s HHS (Health & Human Services). The Washington Post reported $220 million in sudden cuts to a reauthorized national Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, despite evidence it was working. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/02/15/planned-parenthood-sues-trump-administration-for-ending-grants-to-teen-pregnancy-programs/?utm_term=.0ed6cb57010b

Reporter Przbyla found the program, begun in 2010, had bipartisan support in Congress and had trained more than 7,000 health professionals and supported 3,000 community-based organizations. The result, reported most recently in 2017, was record lows in US teen pregnancy and birth rates.  http://time.com/4843652/teen-birth-rates-record-low/

Damningly, and in keeping with Trump cuts in other programs benefiting women and children, she reported that experienced female administrators at HHS had been kept out of the decision-making loop and were told to “get in line.” Cuts came down by command from Steven Valentine, an anti-abortion abstinence activist put in charge of HHS family planning.  One administrator said she was “so rattled” that “my reaction when I got on the phone was to cry.”

But now picture her singing along with that old song of Helen Reddy’s: I am woman, hear me roar! Because a week after Przbyla’s story came out, HHS withdrew some of its cuts. And I suspect women aren’t done yet with evidence-based programs that work to prevent teenaged pregnancies. We're just done with protection of outdated male claims on women’s bodies and decisions.