Women in Leadership in the #MeToo Movement

AMERICAN DREAM RECONSIDERED 2018

by Grace Heimerl

“We are reimagining what leadership could look like … women’s anger is catalytic.”
-Rebecca Traister

Brutally honest, nuanced and inspiring: this was the tone of the evening for the Women in Leadership in the #MeToo Movement panel. Moderated by Roosevelt associate professor of women’s and gender studies, Marjorie Jolles, New York Times best-selling author Rebecca Traister and Chicago-Sun Times columnist and reporter Maudlyne Ihejirika joined forces to engage in an in-depth discussion about the role of women in leadership during the advent of the #MeToo movement.

(from left) Marjorie Jolles, associate professor of women’s and gender studies and director of Roosevelt’s Honors Program; Ali Malekzadeh, president, Roosevelt University; Rebecca Traister, writer-at-large for New York magazine and the author of the New York Times best-seller All The Single Ladies

“We are in trouble … women are in trouble. We have to stay focused on the prize. We have an issue.”

-Maudlyne Ihejirika
Urban affairs reporter, Chicago Sun-Times

Traister and Ihejirika spoke at length about navigating social media spaces and the intense hatred they have received, especially since the 2016 election. They both find much of their online discourse to be intensely representative of the attitudes and perceptions that women deal with on a day-to-day basis, and agreed that the best course of action is standing together in solidarity. “We are in trouble … women are in trouble. We have to stay focused on the prize,” Ihejirika said. “We have an issue.”

Currently, as Traister said, American society is “increasingly governed by minority rule … our entire model is shaped by white men.” As she pointed out, all it takes is to “divide the majority” for minority power to persist. She and Ihejirika discussed how to overcome this phenomenon by using “the skillful facilitation of anger” to achieve positive results within the sphere of politics and social justice. This starts with installing women in leadership roles and transforming the fabric of American politics.

“We are reimagining what leadership could look like,” Traister said. Both she and Ihejirika took the time to encourage the audience to vote to start this transformative process within politics. “Women’s anger is catalytic,” Traister said. “Women are running because they’re angry at the injustices [they see].” Ihejirika validated that righteous anger can be a catalyst for anything from women running for office to spearheading a movement such as Black Lives Matter, which only helps to heal that fracture within the majority.

Ihejirika admitted that “it’s an uphill battle” but that getting closer to a truly representative government is paramount in terms of firmly addressing social injustice, among many other injustices. Both she and Traister posited that women are key in winning this battle and left the audience with the unspoken request to support the catalytic, righteous anger — and power — of women everywhere.

Maudlyne Ihejirika
Chicago-Sun Times columnist

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