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, fo

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

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

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 d

This Country Never Cared For Its Women - Nothing Changed This Weekend

The world is just the same as it was before the confirmation. We’re just angrier about it. And that’s okay. But nothing has changed. After days of ire and frustration and disappointment, I landed back on that, which calmed me. I represent victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. A lot of my work is explaining to judges, to lawyers, to human services employees, to district attorneys, and law enforcement that domestic abuse and rape exist, in my case. That’s it. The biggest challenge, nowadays, is not convincing people that domestic abuse and rape exist in general or that they are bad. (And no, those were not a given even ten years ago). The challenge is to convince people that right now, right here, in the case before them, they are looking at it. That’s because victimization of women is widespread, is understood to be widespread, but there is a false notion that it happens “but not here.” A lot of my work is also explaining to victims, my clients, that neither the po

Sexual Harassment as an Act of Aggression.

Sexual harassment is often misunderstood as separate and apart from sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence. But it is not separate. In fact, it shares fundamental attributes with those mechanisms of oppression: 1) an exertion of power & dominion over the victim; 2) gaslighting and 3) common progression to outright physical violence. Understanding that sexual harassment is not "flirting gone wrong" or the result of "misunderstandings" and "overly sensitive"  women is critical to understanding its roots and how to address it. Sexual harassment is common across all professions although it occurs at higher rates in some professions rather than others. According to the EEOC 85% of women are sexually harassed at work. Still according to the EEOC, 45% of harassment claims are sex-based. And a whopping 75% of harassment victims experience retaliation after reporting. (And we wonder why women don't come forward quickly and vocally). While some

The Sanctity of Abortion Access: Survival Is Not Optional.

Up to 31,000 women die every year from botched abortions and seven million are injured or made ill. Guttmacher Institute . Every sixteen minutes, therefore, a woman in the world dies because of an illegal abortion. That number is down from 2007, thanks to legalization of abortions and higher access to contraception worldwide. But it is worth remembering that in 2007, the Guttmacher Institure reported, "Every eight minutes a woman dies somewhere in a developing country due to complications from an unsafe abortion." Guttmacher Institute , Aug. 2007. Today, one woman will have died from an illegal abortion by the time you are finished reading this article. Many more died in the time it took me to write this. Let that sink in; feel the ticking clock of women, making desperate decisions, balancing the need to take care of themselves, their future, and their other children, laying down on a table, or a mattress, or a floor, staring at the ceiling and praying they make it. Eve