Ethics & Religion
December 14, 2017
Hurray for the "Silence Breakers"
By Mike McManus
Why was Judge Roy Moore defeated for the U.S. Senate? Women voted
overwhelmingly against him - by 57% to 41%. Moore's documented
molestation of girls as young as 14 while he was in his 30s - outraged
Alabama's conservative women, who usually vote Republican.
Alabama is a very Republican state. It voted for Trump as President by a
28% margin over Clinton. Its vote for Democrat Doug Jones was stunning,
though he won by only 1%.
Certainly, part of the reason for Moore's defeat was a high turnout of
African-Americans. However, blacks are only 30% of those who went to
Alabama's polls on Tuesday.
What mattered was female anger - not only at Moore, but also at
President Trump. On the day of the election, Trump, also an alleged
sexual predator, tweeted that Sen. Kirsten Gilliband (D-N.Y.) was a
"lightweight," and "someone who would come to my office begging for
campaign contributions...and would do anything for them)."
Clearly, he was implying she would have sex with him for contributions.
Gillibrand retorted with her own tweet: "You cannot silence me or the
millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about
the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office."
News of this exchange on Election Day sparked even more Alabama women to
vote against Moore.
Two days earlier, TIME published a 40-page cover story on "The Silence
Breakers" - women who have blown the whistle on male predators. TIME
praised women "for giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper
networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the
unacceptable. The Silence Breakers are the 2017 Person of the Year."
Actress Ashley Judd blew the whistle on Harvey Weinstein's "coercive
bargaining" in a hotel room two decades ago. Multiple sexual harassment
claims brought down former Today show host Matt Lauer. Nearly 50 women
accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. He was brought to trial on charges
he drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand. Though ending in a
mistrial, it is scheduled to be retried in April.
In a Nov. 28 poll, 82% of respondents said women are more likely to
speak out about harassment since the Weinstein allegations.
TIME published multiple photographs of the Silence Breakers, and
summarized their stories. Fear to speak up was common - whether they
were stars or strawberry pickers, like Isabel Pascuai, who said, "I was
afraid. When the man was harassing me, he threatened to harm my children
and me - that's why I kept quiet. I felt desperate. I cried and cried.
But, thank God, my friends in the fields support me. I lost the fear."
A major new force supporting women is the #MeToo initiative that was
used on Facebook by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts
during its first 24 hours!
#MeToo reports that 45% of users in the United States have posted
personal stories. In the week after @MeToo first surfaced, versions of
it swept through 85 countries.
The movement spread quickly worldwide. Michael Fallon, Britain's Defense
Secretary, quit the Cabinet after journalist Jane Merrick reported that
he had "lunged" at her in 2003 when she was a 29-year-old reporter.
In November the spotlight was back on American politicians. The
Washington Post published a credible detailed story quoting Leigh
Corfman that Roy Moore abused her when she was 14, and he was a
32-year-old assistant district attorney. Eight other women reported
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) acknowledged press reports that he used
$84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit with a
former aide in 2014. He denies wrongdoing, but vows he will repay the
What about the $17 million which taxpayers have unknowingly forked over
for 268 transgressions over the past 20 years? House Speaker Paul Ryan
told CNN he was not aware of the details of the harassment settlements.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she also knew no details.
This is totally unsatisfactory. Congress should provide detail on every
payment made. Guilty Members of Congress should pay back the money, or
resign - or both.
Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News anchor won a $20 million law suit
against Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. For a year she has worked
with Congress to craft the "Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual
Harassment Act" to give victims the right to confront their harassers in
court. At present, 60 million workers have clauses in their employment
contracts which eliminates their Seventh Amendment right to a fair
Hurray for the Silence Breakers creating a fairer world.
Copyright (c) 2017 Michael J. McManus,
President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous
columns go to
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