Not NOW. Don’t tell me that the National Organization for Women has become yet another regressive establishment institution. Apparently, speaking at NOW about the inclusion of minority women triggers the white ladies in the audience.
That’s how Weeks found herself in front of a sea of older white women at the Colors Lounge in Melbourne, Florida, in June 2017, addressing the Brevard County NOW chapter. Her voice broke as she spoke about what motivated her to run, and the conversations she’d had with her mother about the importance of fighting for both women and people of color.
“It’s important because we need to give a voice to those most oppressed in order to make everybody better,” Weeks told the audience, many of whom were around her mother’s age. “That’s women of color, that’s disabled people, that’s LGBTQ people.”
She was about to move on to the most relevant part of her stump speech—how NOW could help do all this—when she was interrupted by a white woman in the audience.
“White women, too!” the woman yelled.
“And then yeah, don’t forget the white women,” Weeks replied evenly.
“Just the women with the pussies!” another woman called out, in what seemed to be a reference to trans women. In video obtained by The Daily Beast, you can hear an audience member groan.
“It’s OK,” Weeks said, attempting to press on. “It is important to include all women.”
The rot doesn’t stop at the rank-and-file level. The Daily Beast investigation found a racism and transphobia epidemic everywhere in management of the organization.
In interviews with The Daily Beast, nearly a dozen members, employees, and visitors recalled women of color being heckled, silenced, or openly disparaged at NOW meetings and offices. The behavior culminated at the 2017 conference where, witnesses say, members dismissed Fortson-Washington, a black woman, as “angry” and entitled, and accused Weeks of being a “hot-headed Latina.” On the last day of the conference, more than a dozen women marched around a conference room to protest racism inside the organization.
But the problem didn’t stop there. Internal emails, documents and interviews obtained by the Daily Beast reveal that allegations of racism reached the highest levels of the organization after Weeks and Fortson-Washington’s loss. More than a dozen employees at the national headquarters signed onto a letter accusing President Toni Van Pelt of sidelining and disparaging women of color, and the previous vice president has filed a federal racial discrimination suit.
It seems to be rampant among white women of a certain age, my age. Is this the National Organization for Women, or the National Organization for Karens? I didn’t think they’d need a professional association to represent them.
Speaking of older women behaving badly, there’s been a J.K. Rowling flare-up.
‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?
Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate https://t.co/cVpZxG7gaA
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020
That’s one of her milder tweets. She’s madly digging to defend her implication that somehow you undermine sex when you recognize that menstruation isn’t the defining property of womanhood you are erasing sex and the reality of women. She says that “my life has been shaped by being female”, which is certainly true, but she’s unable to appreciate that many factors affect everyone’s life experience, and that trans men and women can share many aspects of their identity — even with cis men and women.
But then, she’s old, she’s rich, she’s got some terrible new books to promote (while I appreciate that Harry Potter motivated a lot of kids to read, including my own, I have to state that they were derivative and repetitive and contained a lot of problematic attitudes), so she’s got to keep jabbering and all the plates spinning, exposing her own inner Karen.