The Credibility Gap: If Nobody Believes Us, Are We Even Making a Sound?

As I consider the tapestry of injustice that is the backdrop to US history, I often endeavor to find the thread that binds it all together, the thread which, if pulled upon, would unravel it in its entirety. The hope is not only to find ways to undermine the various systemic and brutal forms of abuse perpetrated by our society, often with the support of our government, but also to find ways in which we are bound in our various struggles that is more than the struggle itself.
One such thread is the “Credibility Gap.” Specifically, it is the way women, black people, and immigrants are routinely robbed of their credibility merely by virtue of their membership to such groups. Let me explain.
My starting point, because of my life experience and my work, is the abysmal way in which women are treated when they report domestic abuse or rape. Very simply, their credibility is immediately at issue. Why did she stay? Who did she tell? But he’s such a “nice guy”? She’s just trying to hurt him! The…

Motherhood is Untenable: Mother's Day Thoughts for Men.

The first memory of commercial Mother's Day, as an adult, is a billboard of a little boy and a man holding flowers behind their backs, ready to hand them to that "special woman." It irked me, but I was not a mother yet so I figured it was something I did not understand. 
And then I became a mother. And a mother again. And a mother again. Three kids under four, then three kids under five. I saw the ad again, every year, and it irked me, every year. Why? Well, for starters, it is too little, too late. It is disingenuous. Mothers are routinely asked to have careers as though they don't have children, have children as though they don't have careers, but have both and be great at both. It is an impossible task. Also, Mother's Day glorifies women in relation to other people and what they have done for those people. Which is the problem with US motherhood in the first place. Being a mother, in modern society, is a utilitarian exercise: how much can we do, for other…

Hands Off: The Silent Power Struggle of the "Harmless" Touch.

I was invited to a casual evening at a local restaurant. The group is all women except for one man. I'm there to talk business. Two of the women want to start a company and I'm there as an attorney. It's that soft part of networking, before the real deals take place, where we figure out if there is a good fit. The man is also a lawyer and apparently he has been helping them with setting up the startup. The conversation keeps going and eventually, I see the inevitable. His arm around one of their waists. It has no business being there, at all. But it definitely has no business being so low on her back. Internally, I both cringe and sigh--at the same time. This internal sigh falls across a well-worn crease in my psyche. I've been here before. I've been that woman, a few years back. And I know that the "harmless touch" is part of the transaction.

You can absolutely make a fuss, but if you do, whatever deal you are working on will be off. It's a deal wom…

The Slaughtering of Black Men: Rage is Not Enough.

TW - racial violence; police shooting; death

The past week alone must have been so violently traumatic for our country's black community that I can't begin to comprehend how they continue to put up with us. I, as a white woman, tremble in rage as I read the headlines. I am irate. I am sad.  I am heartbroken. But this pales in comparison to the pain of those targeted by this violence. Black Lives Matter. Our country continues to make this phrase aspirational. Let's do something about it.
On March 15, 2019, a hung jury was declared in the case of a North Miami officer who shot an unarmed caretaker of an autistic man. The caretaker, a black man, was lying on the floor with his arms out asking the police not to shoot his client because he was holding a toy truck, and not a gun. There are photos. This is clearly what happened. It didn't matter. It never matters. This black man, who was trying to protect another vulnerable individual and did everything in his power to show h…

It's Not About Me; It's About Doing the Work

I'm a mother of four. I'm an attorney. I have my own law firm. And I am running for State Senate. I am also financially comfortable after many years of not being so.

This week, in a group for lawyer moms, I was mom-shamed for the second time my the same person. I forcefully reacted. Her position was that I am a spoiled brat, rich white lady, not a real mother, and that I hate single mothers. I responded virulently. Things escalated from there. I eventually left the group because I realized it is toxic.

But it hurt. It hurt so much. And I have spent a few days thinking about why. I get insulted and called an idiot every day. By abusers, by rapists, by online commenters - and truly, none of it bothers me, at all, ever. Opposing counsel tries to shame my clients or belittle them. It doesn't even make me mad. I just push on and win.

Because it came from another lawyer mom who, more than anyone, should understand we all have our challenges. And that whatever it looks like from…

Stolen Election: Stacey Abrams and the Enduring Legacy of Reconstruction

Stacey Abrams lost the election for Georgia's Governorship - or so the record shows. But really, did she?

In Georgia, GOP voter suppression efforts were in full swing before and during the last election. Even a cursory review of the data raises serious questions about the integrity of the voting rolls. And this is not by accident.

Georgia is a prime example of what has been happening throughout the country and will continue to deprive significant portions of the American electorate of having a real say in their democracy. Since before 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act--courtesy of Justice Roberts--the GOP has successfully waged a war on minority voters and other voters more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. In her book "One Person, No Vote," Carol Anderson draws a near-perfect arch between post Civil War Reconstruction and Jim Crow laws to current GOP efforts. This arch does not bend towards justice. The reality is that until and unless w…

Face It, Victimizing Women in the US is Only "Technically" Illegal.

I sat across from my husband after another day at the office. During that day, my clients reported that they had tried to report rapes, domestic violence, and physical assaults to the police and district attorneys. Desperate, they told me the police had done nothing or told them they had waited "too long"--in that case, three days, during which said client had been hospitalized as a result of the assault. It happens every day in my office. It happens every day around the country. So as I tried to explain why this keeps happening the truth I carry inside me finally became a complete thought and statement, "Because raping and assaulting women is only technically illegal. But not actually illegal." I've been running through that assertion for the past few weeks and, unfortunately, the accuracy of it is inescapable.

I often tell my children that when someone puts "technically" in front of a statement, what follows is probably not true. I technically didn…