I think one of the most challenging aspects of empowerment of any community or group is to convince them that it is not just their right but their responsibility to question leadership. Which also begs the question, “What is community leadership?”
I doubt too many people (unless they’re in a particularly sarcastic mode) would question that various elected officials are community leadership. But what about the CEO’s of major businesses, high school principals, the editor of the local newspaper? What about the family that runs the neighborhood gas station, elementary school teachers or the reporter for the local newspaper?
To answer the question, “What” or maybe I mean “Who”, is community leadership, I think depends on how much you think people take care of themselves and how much we depend on each other. That family running the neighborhood gas station—do they squeeze the budget to make another job when parents can’t pay for prom, or rent? Do they let some regulars fill the tank at the end of the month and come back on the first with money? The teachers that watch for excellence, disability, abuse, enthusiasm. The reporter who knows what questions to ask and keeps asking questions. It’s all a tough job.
Thing is, leaders need support, encouragement, they need people at their back, they need feedback and correction—constructively. Slap the teacher’s hand for saying the wrong kid is “excellent” (the gas station owner’s kid, not the CEO’s) and the teacher “learns” the way the World works. Daddy’s money determines who is gifted. Hassle the CEO too much about average salaries, moving jobs around, noise, recruitment standards—well, he’s got problems, too. Like making payroll, satisfying clients, keeping the bankers and shareholders happy. ( Which I guess gets us back to we all hang together or we all hang separately, which begs the question who is “us”? Maybe that’s a different essay . . . .)
So, when someone who writes for a newspaper goes a bit over the line (by the measure of some), and the Editor and Publisher OK it, they need feedback. Thus the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ending their subscription to George Will’s column. Driven in part by concerns from local readers and possible canceled subscriptions? Or advertisers to pulling ads? It’s a business after all.
A disconnect exposed. The radical feminazi liberal bleeding heart Birkenstock wearing over the top progressive nut community of Greater St. Louis, was offended by Mr. Will’s defense of . . . . Yeah. It wasn’t really a defense was it? It was an attack on an anti-rape initiative. OK.
A disconnect exposed. St. Louis, the other side of the Appalachias, the other side of the Mississippi (for the most part). Traditionally, a factory town. Not without its educated and white collar sets, but nowhere near the State political infrastructure home base. Hmmmm . . . .
A disconnect exposed. What role do women play? Why are they in college, living independently? In other historically male environments?
I think what concerns (some?) people about college behavior, is that—right or wrong—school teachers, business owners, etc, Americans now assume future leaders, come from the college set. Partially because in recent decades, college graduation rates have soared, it’s been taken as a rough cut on who has their life together. Many professions that even a few generations back were accessible with a high school diploma or less, now require a four year degree. Or maybe it is just a place of high concentrations of young adults somewhat freed from their parents guidance. A starting point.
It’s not unheard of for a political leader to have skipped college, however, if you look at the current cadre of elected and appointed politicians, you won’t find many. A four year degree is practically an absolute requirement for teachers and principals and professional staff at newspapers? Probably not many without college.
So, is it OK if some of these guys like to run around with the pants around their ankles? Can we assume it’s a “phase”, and once they “grow up” they will stop? (Since when is eighteen not grown up?) What about the women who “do 200” freshman year?
So, the George Will column, an attack on an anti-rape initiative. An explicit attack on a particular woman who “hooked up” with a guy for a few months, and then tried to stay friends and said no. Equals a defense of . . . . a guy running around with his pants around his ankles?
On the instant matter, for the sake of argument, I’ll agree with Mr. Will. OK, it wasn’t rape. But what was it? My turn. Boys will be boys? She said she broke it off. That’s one. She told him that night she wasn’t interested, that’s at least two.
Why is it OK? Why is it OK with an established journalist from the leading paper (there’s that word again) in our Nation’s Capital? Because it’s OK in our Nation’s Capital? Except the White House.
I think the thing that made me saddest about Washington wasn’t some of the stuff that went on, but the way a lot of people shrugged it off. Particularly the women. You can’t be in Washington for more than 10 minutes without feeling how little progress feminism in even its most basic tenants has made. An environment made for Crusaders with no Crusade. Or maybe this is about who is “us” . . . . A safe place for the girls from the right families, the right schools, the right country clubs. The rest? Well, talk to Mary Jo and Mimi to get your heads up.
Except the White House. That’s a switch. And Old Washington, still making excuses. Boys will be boys. If she was there she wanted it. QED.