Cory

The #MeToo Moment at the Grammys

The 2018 Grammys did, in fact, have its #MeToo moment. In the wake of the “Time’s Up” movement’s inception at this year’s Golden Globes, there was a lot of speculation about how the music industry’s Recording Academy would choose to draw awareness to the issue of sexual assault and harassment, if at all, during the annual awards ceremony.
From the outset, it was inspiring to see a number of celebrities wearing a white rose. A group of female industry executives formed a group called “Voices of Entertainment” last week and sent an open letter to attendees encouraging them to wear a white rose in support of the #MeToo movement. “We choose the white rose because historically it stands for hope, peace, sympathy and resistance,” the letter read. And it wasn’t just women who decided to wear them. The preponderance of men wearing white roses to the ceremony exemplified the way men can support and sustain women. It’s especially helpful in environments where women are outnumbered, relatively powerless, and fear retribution for speaking up for themselves.
Was it a perfect night for women? No. Critics were quick to point out that of the 84 total awards presented, only 11 went to women. In a category that seemed primed to have a female winner with four of the five nominees being women, the award for Best Solo Pop Performance ultimately went to the lone male nominee (who didn’t even bother to show up for the ceremony). The Academy was also criticized for allowing all of the male nominees for Album of the Year to perform while Lorde, the one female nominee, was not given that same opportunity.
In spite of the evening’s shortcomings, several presenters and performers took the opportunity to bring the message of #MeToo to the Grammy stage. Lady Gaga began her performance of her hit “Million Reasons” by simply whispering, “Time’s up,” into her microphone. There was no second-guessing Pink’s message as she sang “There’s not enough rope to tie me down, there’s not enough tape to shut this mouth.”
Perhaps the most notable moment of the night took place when singer Janelle Monáe came to the stage to introduce a performance by Kesha. “Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist, but a young woman, with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry — artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEOs, producers, engineers, and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and human beings. To those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s Up. We say Time’s Up for pay inequality. Time’s Up for discrimination. Time’s Up for harassment of any kind. And Time’s Up for the abuse of power, because, you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood. It’s not just going on in Washington. It’s right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So, let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women.”
As if Monáe’s speech wasn’t powerful enough, Kesha, who has been embroiled in a legal battle with a male producer over allegations of sexual abuse, performed her song “Praying,” which was written in response to her experiences of assault. It was an emotional performance that gave us a glimpse into her personal pain but also encapsulated a moment of “hope, peace, sympathy and resistance” as she sang surrounded by a chorus of women dressed in all-white as a symbol of solidarity.
What has been communicated through the songs and speeches of the Golden Globes and the Grammys is not a list of solutions but a chorus of reminders that there is work to be done in our society to address harassment and inequality on behalf of women everywhere. The ceremonies are over, but the work goes on.

Crystal Quade | Leadership Through Courage

Rep. Crystal Quade


Opportunities for women to step into leadership present themselves less often as invitations and more often as acts of courage. No one asked Crystal Quade to run for State Representative of Missouri’s 132nd district, but when a local non-discrimination ordinance that provided protections for many underrepresented members of her community was repealed in 2015, her convictions told her that it was time to lead. On the night of the repeal, she began to consider how running for office might affect her career as a young professional working for a nonprofit organization in addition to how it might affect her young family. She recounts a conversation with her husband where she asked questions like “What will I miss out on with my family?” “Do I have the experience to do this?” and “Am I even good enough?” She also noted, “These are the questions women ask themselves every time we are presented with opportunities for leadership.”
Every opportunity for leadership demands a certain amount of courage, but because women are more rarely considered for these opportunities than men, a woman’s decision to assume a position of leadership may be more thoroughly defined by her courage. In Leading Women, my co-author Sandra Ford Walston says, “Acting with courage is about acting from the heart, from the center of your innermost being.” She goes on to say, “The bull’s-eye that we women must learn to hit consistently is the true self… By focusing on the bull’s-eye of our true self, we access the empowering virtue of courage.”
As she weighed the decision of running for office, Quade could have easily given in to her doubts and hesitations, but she chose to follow the instincts of her true self—the path of courage. Quade had been preparing for this moment her entire life. She was a first-generation high school graduate who went on to earn a degree in social work. While in college, she discovered an interest in government through a course on policy, and she accepted an internship in the state capital her senior year. After college, she spent two years working for the United States Senate and has since devoted herself to non-profit work empowering her local community. Her doubts about her experience and qualifications were easily reconciled simply by observing the ways that she aligned with her true self to find and fulfill her passions.
When Quade spoke at the recent Women’s March in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri, she talked about the bevy of issues that are decidedly important to women being debated and even threatened in the current political cycle. She reminded those gathered for the march, “Our voice is not only needed. It is being demanded.” Recognizing the need for more women in leadership at every level of government, she said, “Look to the woman next to you. Ask her to run. Ask her to lead.” Quade punctuated her remarks by saying, “And damn it, when you get asked, say yes!”
The way to increase invitations to leadership among women is for women to extend them. However, at this moment in time, women can no longer afford to simply wait for invitations to lead. They must continue to do as Quade did and lead from a place of courage. When women see opportunities to lead that align with their own sense of their true selves, they must step up with courage and conviction and do the work that must be done. When it comes to leadership, women’s voices are not only needed. They are being demanded.

Find Your Voice and Give It To Those In Need

“I’m never going to quit. I’m going to do this until the day I die.”
Those are the words of Cindy Dennis, a woman whose experiences of trauma and heartache ultimately shaped her life’s work—educating and empowering children to recognize and speak out against all forms of abuse.
Cindy’s journey began in the 1980s when her young son was abused by a family member. This event set in motion the long process of therapeutic recovery, but it also sparked a deep desire in Cindy to learn how she could be a voice for other children who experienced abuse. She earned a degree in psychology, and in the process of learning how to give a voice to others, Cindy recognized that she needed to give herself a voice as well. Speaking out on behalf of the sometimes-voiceless victims of abuse would make demands of her personally, so she sought the counsel of professional coaches in addition to her personal network to help her define her voice.
Cindy benefited from the insight of her coaches, but she also found tremendous value in surrounding herself with other women who provided her with strength, empowerment, and encouragement on her path of discovery. Though others may not have experienced the same hardships that she had, Cindy recognized that there was power in reaching out and comforting the women in her life who were also going through difficult times, as many had done for her. Relationships built on transparency and vulnerability provide a strong sense of safety and mutuality. She acknowledges, “We’re all in this together.”
These days, Cindy is using her voice to help children and their communities develop an awareness of abuse while taking steps to prevent it. In 2016, she established the Give a Child a Voice Foundation, an organization that strives to be the nation’s leader in educating and empowering children to protect themselves from all forms of abuse. Cindy says that many people are reluctant to talk about abuse because it brings up bad memories or feels awkward, or they just want to pretend it doesn’t exist. Her goal is to smash that way of thinking and confront the issue head on. Her work is rooted in the belief that every child was made to shine, and her convictions embolden her to break down the walls of discomfort and shine a light into a very dark subject. From community events to sales and giveaways of a series of picture books written and drawn by Cindy herself, Give a Child a Voice is removing the stigmas of abuse and giving communities the power to recognize and prevent child abuse.
To learn more about the Give a Child a Voice Foundation, visit their website, and be sure to check out Cindy’s book series at her site. For every book purchased, a book is donated to a child in need.

Shelter and Support for Expectant Mothers

pexels-photo-54289-largeFor most expectant mothers, pregnancy can be a source of great joy as well as a cause for physical and emotional challenges. Those challenges multiply exponentially for the women who are both pregnant and experiencing the hardship of homelessness. There are approximately 8,000 pregnant women in Los Angeles County seeking shelter and support on any given night, yet there are only 69 beds available for them. Located in Santa Monica, Harvest Home provides eight of those beds as a part of their residential program for women and their babies. For over three decades, the organization has been providing care and resources needed, not only for healthy and successful pregnancies, but also to help these women become wonderful mothers for their children long term.
Leigh Flisher currently serves as a member of Harvest Home’s board of directors but started volunteering with the organization as a part of a community service project through her daughter’s school. As a mother herself, Leigh observed firsthand the impact of the work Harvest Home was doing with these women and children and was compelled to invest more of her time and energy in that work. She transitioned from volunteer to mentor, which allowed her to provide counsel and encouragement through personal relationships with the mothers involved in the program. As a board member, she now spends her time advocating the work of Harvest Home in the community and fostering supportive relationships with local businesses. Leigh even returned to school to earn a Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California in order to expand her ability to help those in need.
Passionate about helping the mothers at Harvest Home, Leigh helps them become the best mothers they can be, achieving success in their lives. She also recognizes the lasting influence the program is having on mothers. Harvest Home has developed an alumni program to give those who have successfully completed the program the opportunity to pay it forward. In fact, Leigh notes that roughly 90% of alumni stay involved in the alumni program. This not only speaks to the effectiveness of the program, but it’s also another shining example of women helping women. When we are able to grow through the difficult lessons life teaches us and pour our care and wisdom back into others, we all reap the benefits of the sisterhood of success.
Women Connect4Good is honored to support Harvest Home with a donation of $20,000. When asked what this donation might to do to support the organization, Leigh said that it will allow them to move their offices off-site creating space for more open beds. She also noted that the organization is hoping to open another location in the near future to be able to meet the needs of more women and children in the area.
To learn more about the work of Harvest Home and help us support them with you’re your own personal contribution to their work, visit their website at theharvesthome.net.

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