Women are Speaking Out, Are We Listening?

Photo by Backbone Campaign | CC BY 2.0

I’m not at all surprised by the recent explosion of allegations of sexual assault and harassment against men in powerful political, economic, and entertainment positions. Sexism has always been an integral part of American culture, and predatory businesses and men of power have long been exempt from responsibility for their transgressions. What did it for me was the Walmart class action lawsuit, which included an incredible 1.5 million women alleging sexual harassment of discrimination against the company, but was dismissed out of hand by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011.

Ignoring countless stories of harassment on the part of lawsuit participants, and dismissing out of hand statistical evidence documenting how Walmart hires far fewer women for management positions than other national retail chains, the late Justice Antonin Scalia assaulted the very notion of women joining together to fight against sexism. In the court’s majority decision, Scalia wrote that women involved in the suit failed to demonstrate to the court “a common answer to the crucial question, why was I disfavored?” Scalia lamented that the case involved “literally millions of employment decisions” and the plaintiffs had not demonstrated that there was “some glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together.”

Scalia’s claims were remarkable. Rather than conceding that guilt of an accused party is to be determined through a court of…

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