What We Learned From the Andrew Cuomo Scandal

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S1: This is the waves.

S2: This is the wave. This is

S3: the wave. This is the way. This is the way. This is the waves that’s predicted.

S2: Welcome to the Waves. Slate’s podcast about gender, feminism and governors who have to give back their Emmys. Every episode you get a new pair of women to talk about the thing we can’t get off our minds. And today you’ve got me Susan Matthews, news director of Slate and the editorial director of this podcast that you’re listening to right now.

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S1: And you’ve got me. Christina Cauterucci. I’m a senior writer at Slate and host of the Slate podcast Outward.

S2: Hi, Christina. I’m so excited to be here with you.

S1: Yeah, under very unfortunate circumstances, given the topic we’re discussing,

S2: almost always unfortunate circumstances. So today we’re going to be talking about Andrew Cuomo, who left the governor’s mansion in New York this week after a month long investigation into accusations of sexual harassment from several former staffers. That investigation yielded a report that was so damaging that even Cuomo, who has been weathering scandals by simply toughing them out for years and years, couldn’t keep doing it. I’d like to talk through why it took so long until all of a sudden it didn’t for him to leave and step down. And I’d also really like to talk about what this particular sequence of events could and should teach us about where MeToo is right now. And lastly, we’re going to talk about a part of this scandal that I actually think is the most interesting and fascinating aspect of all of this, which is the effect that Cuomo has had on Time’s Up, which is a pretty glitzy organization that launched soon after the MeToo movement itself and is headed by many famous women, one of whom had to step down in the wake of the Cuomo scandal. And we’re going to get into all of that in a minute. So I think the reason I’ve been interested in this case specifically is because I think that we’ll be able to unpack some of the questions that I’ve had for a while, like is journalism still enough to take down a bad man? Should it be? And how much are women getting blamed for their efforts to further MeToo, even though men are obviously much more universally the perpetrators of sexual violence and harassment? Christina, why did you want to talk about Andrew Cuomo?

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S1: I feel like we’ve talked a lot personally about the more thorny questions around MeToo, which is basically what happens now. You know, when accusations come up, what comes next. But I’ve also been kind of stuck in a thought spiral about this Cuomo stuff, because no one is walking away from that governor’s office unscathed. And I think that is true of a lot of instances of workplace sexual harassment. It implicates everyone, everyone who’s victimized by it, who is left wondering, you know, did they provoke it? Did they respond firmly enough to stop it? Everyone who witnesses it. There are always people in the workplace who have to decide whether they want to risk their own careers to try to hold the perpetrator accountable. And especially in politics, it implicates everyone who has been an ally to the perpetrator, which, you know, politicians always have plenty of allies, people who have told themselves in some cases, like perhaps the women who lead times up, that, you know, the ends justify the means and they’re going to maybe decide to align themselves with an imperfect leader because he could possibly do some good and help advance their cause. So that’s why we’re seeing the aftershocks of the Cuomo investigation touch a lot of seemingly unrelated corners of progressive politics and seemingly unlikely corners, I would say.

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S2: Yeah, definitely Cuomo like kind of proactively used feminist legislation and all kinds of things as a defense mechanism for a really long time. So I think I think that that’s exactly right and is and is such an interesting part to get into. Like what is the deal these women made? And was there a world in which it actually did pay off? And what do we think happened and how are they feeling about it now? So we’re going to talk about all of that and more right after the break. Welcome back to the Waves. So Christina Andrew Cuomo announced he would resign a couple of weeks ago. Let’s listen to a clip of that.

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S4: I do hug and kiss people casually. Women and men, I have done it all my life. It’s who I’ve been since I can remember in my mind. I’ve never crossed the line with anyone. But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.

S2: What did you make of this speech?

S1: Funny you should ask. I actually published a piece on Slocomb about this very speech.

S2: You don’t say

S1: this seemed like he was pulling from the greatest hits of men who’ve been accused of sexual harassment over the past couple of years. But most egregiously, I thought, was his contention that the line of appropriate behavior has been redrawn so quickly that he couldn’t possibly be asked to keep up. You know, that was sort of the original excuse that Harvey Weinstein and his lawyer brought up when women made those public allegations that, you know, he was an old dinosaur. He was trying to learn new ways, but was so hard for him. I think this is particularly absurd coming from Andrew Cuomo, because he has extremely publicly aligned himself with the MeToo movement, the time’s up organization, feminists trying to get legislation passed to beef up accountability measures for sexual harassment. So it would be a stretch to think that any male politician especially could have not known that, you know, it wasn’t OK anymore and paused there to recognize that it never was. But especially this man who has made such a big deal of, you know, what an ally he was to the feminist movement. He must think we’re all fools.

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S2: Yeah, I was so struck by like in this speech. And then also today, I think it was today’s Tuesday that we’re recording this and it is his actual last day in office, or maybe he left last night a little 759. So he gave one last speech. And he’s so married to the idea of himself as the good guy and himself as the good guy has taken on so many different manifestations, like he was such a visible governor during the pandemic. He was hosting these daily news briefings and he like can’t get over his own self-image as exactly that. And I thought that that was really present both in the speech in which he announced that he was resigning. In fact, like the thing that I remember about it was that until he actually resigned, it just didn’t sound at all like he was resigning. It was like a classic Cheyna Andrew Cuomo I’m the man kind of speech. And I just think that he has such an obvious complex about having to present outwardly as the good guy. And then within his workplace. It’s so clear, based on all of the reporting that we’ve read, that he’s such an aggressive, bad guy. And the thing that I think is so interesting about him is that it’s not even just the sexual harassment. It’s the like coercion and the covering up and the bullying and the like. You said at the top of this episode, the toxic environment that exists as a result of what he’s doing and what he has to do to kind of maintain the power that he wants to have, he he must know that it’s bad. And yet, like you can see the dissonance between what he still is saying out loud and what he thinks of himself and what is actually happening. Yeah, I

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S1: think there is definitely a part of him that that believes he didn’t do anything wrong, even though there’s a part that exists in his brain, possibly directly adjacent to that part, that knows what he did was wrong

S2: in the beginning. He was so intensely defensive. And I remember even feeling like slightly doubtful about the severity of some of the very first accusations that came out, like as we continue to hear more. There was a real drip, drip, drip of like, oh, this is really not even questionable, like this is really bad. He should probably go. But it was way back in February and March when that was coming out. And obviously right now we are in late August and this is when this has actually happened. So what happened in between those two things is that he didn’t just accept that he should step down after the press reports he submitted to an investigation. And I wanted to talk about a piece that I actually edited at the time that one of our colleagues, Dahlia Lithwick, wrote, and she argued in the piece, and this is something that we’ve been talking about together for a long time about the process around these things. She argued in the piece that actually it’s better for the MeToo movement overall for Andrew Cuomo to not step down immediately when allegations of sexual harassment surfaced, because what we actually need as a movement is for there to be some sort of reliable process that we can lean on in all of these circumstances. And I think that that it’s really sound logic. I think that it’s correct. But I remember when I was publishing it at the time, the main thing that I felt was I can agree in principle that this is correct. But I can also look at this situation and really feel like, oh, the way that he is acting means that he’s just going to figure out how to weather this. There’s going to be so much time that passes in between now when these really juicy reports and details and like awful stories are coming out and when the investigation concludes. And like he is just going to take advantage of that time to let it recede from people’s minds and to learn what to do that’s effective. The fact that they’re doing the investigation is right. But like I think that I thought that he wasn’t going to be actually taken down by the investigation either. Do you remember how you felt either about the piece, about the fact that this investigation was started here, like in May when you were like, what’s happening with Andrew, Cuomo?

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S1: Yeah, it’s funny. I don’t I didn’t remember that those first allegations came out so long ago and that he remained in office for such a long time afterwards.

S2: I mean, I think

S1: Dolia might have a little more faith in the investigatory process than I do. I mean, anybody who has studied the way sexual assault cases play out in courts knows that it is extraordinarily difficult to get a favorable outcome for victims in those cases, investigations that don’t take place around a court case and even those that do are only as good as the people who conduct them. You know, if we look at the Kavanaugh investigation, for instance, the Trump White House was the one ostensibly directing that thousands of tips went uninvestigated. Ethics complaints just sort of faded into the background and went unremarked upon. It ended up just sort of being more of an extra background check and not a true investigation. And I think in its worst form, one of these investigations would just mean sort of kicking the problem down the road a little bit, because at the end of an investigation that doesn’t take place around a court case or a criminal indictment, it’s there still needs to be a decision made at the end of that subjective. People who have some sort of interest in the case will have to make. So it’s still just going to be a collection of people deciding what to make of this investigation. There’s no set path forward at the end of it.

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S2: I think that all of those fears are warranted. But my question for you is like, how do you feel now on the other end of this specific investigation?

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S1: I mean, this investigation, the Cuomo investigation is the ultimate argument for. There should be investigations, because at this point, like the investigation was thorough. It is it feels irrefutable at this point. It left absolutely no room for dithering or doubt casting by any of Cuomo political allies. It is the only reason he resigned. I don’t think that, you know, short of actual Joe Biden calling for his resignation, he would have. I don’t think Joe Biden or, you know, anyone else in any significant position of power would have called for his immediate resignation due to Cuomo political power.

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S2: I don’t know. I think that there was something interesting that happened with this investigation in particular and the fact that it was happening in tandem with the investigations into the nursing home deaths and like the general growing awareness of the fact that he was a bully. Where I think that all of the things that I thought were going to work in his favor ended up backfiring and working against him. So I think that during this investigation, people just continued to get madder and madder at him, and he continued to just be out there in front of everything, being like, I’m a good guy, because that’s his deal. And everyone just watching it being like, no, you’re obviously an asshole. We’ve read all these stories, but we’re going to have them confirmed in this report. And then I just kind of feel like particularly thinking about New York state politics and thinking about like I think one of the big things that factored into his decision was the fact that he really seemed to lose the state Senate and like they were going to impeach him. And he definitely had like a Nixon moment of being like, oh, my God, I’m going to they’re going to kick me out. So I have to go out on my on my own. And so I kind of think that the things that I worried about about the investigation really just totally flipped. This is like the pinnacle of investigations. If we could have this kind of an investigation where it’s it’s done really thoroughly, it’s taken really seriously. And there are people with actual power who are waiting for the results and are waiting to take action on it. Like, wouldn’t that be the ideal way to look at sexual harassment allegations and take them seriously? Because otherwise we’re kind of stuck in this like Wild West world of how much of an impact does the original journalism make? Like how much do people like him? How much does the person try to weather the storm? And so when I who’s

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S1: going to take their place if they do step down?

S2: Yeah, that’s a huge one. So the two examples that I was thinking about that I wanted us to talk about in revisiting this now that we’ve been through. Like, to me, this is. The first example of an effective investigation, like I didn’t even think of the Cabinet investigation as an example of an investigation because it’s so plainly was not an investigation. It was like a French and it was the Trump White House and all of these things. But the two examples that I wanted to talk to you about were Al Franken, where the situation there. I mean, it’s totally different because the Cuomo stuff is like taking place at a totally different time. It’s post pandemic. It’s like years removed from from MeToo. And the Al Franken allegations were like the absolute height of MeToo. And I think that that politically informed a lot of how people thought about it. And then the other one that I wanted to talk about was the allegation against Joe Biden. But I was wondering if you wanted to talk a little bit about how this investigation going. Well, has has or has not changed any of your feelings about how those cases went? I mean, I

S1: always thought and if anyone wants to go back and read what I wrote at the time, maybe they can fact check me on this. But I think I always thought that there should be an investigation into Al Franken behavior, especially because there were several of them. It felt like there were some contemporaneous documentation of what went on, especially the actual photographic evidence that unbiased parties should have gotten to the bottom of. But, you know, it’s interesting, because even though that was happening at the height of the MeToo movement, Al Franken was known as this really good guy, the kind of guy that Andrew Cuomo wants to be. Whereas Andrew Cuomo was sort of already known as a bully and a bad boss. And so I think that made people feel better about him stepping down, because it’s sort of aligned with what people already thought about him. With Al Franken. I think there’s been a lingering bitterness among Democrats and liberals who think that, well, that all happened too fast. He was dealt a raw deal and maybe he was. But I don’t think there’s a way to fully resolve that case in my mind, because and maybe this is, you know, credit to Dalia’s argument, there wasn’t an investigation. And so it has left people at permanent odds about what happened to the point. You know, the person who has suffered the most from this has been. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is still, you know, bares a dark mark in Democratic politics for her role in asking Al Franken to step down. Tara Reid, I think, demonstrates I mean, she’s a unique person in many ways in her case, had a lot of inconsistency, is that we just haven’t seen in a lot of the other in a lot of the other accusations we’re talking about. But I think she mostly demonstrates that one allegation of severe sexual harassment just isn’t enough in this environment at this moment to take down an extremely powerful man.

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S2: Yeah, I think that with Terror Reid, it’s hard to know exactly what the common wisdom around her is now, because I think that collectively as a society, we’ve like decided that it’s a little bit too complicated. But I think that your way of framing it just then of like how we should deal with one single severe allegation is is really important, because I think that what I came away from that period of time and what was happening then thinking is that even though there wasn’t an official investigation, it was definitely a question of who would the official investigation be conducted by. He wasn’t actually in office in that time. Are we expecting the Democratic Party to investigate their own candidates? But what I felt at the time and what ultimately resolved it for me is that I actually did have an enormous amount of faith in the idea that journalists all over the country were trying really, really hard to find any other accusation. And so I really do believe that if there was another one, it would have been surfaced in in some fashion, whether it be by good faith journalists or less good faith journalists. I mean, I think the Franken case was extremely complicated, mostly because I think that him stepping down mostly mattered to him. And I could see the political arguments for why it was really important at the time for for Democrats to be really consistent. And there wasn’t going to be a loss of a Senate seat or anything like that. Like I think that the political argumentation around it was made a lot of sense. It’s really heartening to me to see this one have worked out as it did. I agreed in principle that the investigation was the right thing to do, but I was really skeptical that it was going to work out as it did. And I feel really relieved that it has, because I feel like even though all of those other instances have happened and there might be things that are wrong or complicated or messy about them, I actually do hope that this provides some sort of a template for how we could deal with things going forward. And I think that that is really useful, particularly for four elected officials. So that’s the Cuomo aspect of this conversation. We’re going to take a break here and come back. And when we do. We’re going to talk a little bit more about the women that have experienced some fallout as a result of this. But if you like what you’re hearing and you’re enjoying the waves, we would love if you would like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

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S1: And we have a special bonus for our Slate plus members after the episode. You’ll hear our segment, Gateway Feminism, where today Slate writers Rebecca, Onion and Shannen Palus each talk about one thing that made them feminists. If you missed Channon and Rebecca episode a couple of weeks back, look for Covid Exhaustion in the way of speed. And if you’re not a slate plus member yet, you should be. You can join at Slate dot com, slash the waves plus for additional bonus content on the waves and other Slate podcasts.

S2: Welcome back to the Waves. Now we’re going to turn to another aspect of this story, and that is how it has affected Time’s Up now. Time’s Up is an organization that was formed pretty soon after MeToo really unfolded in earnest back in 2017. And it’s a nonprofit. And mostly what it’s done concretely is raise a ton of money, like millions of dollars for a legal defense fund that women from all different industries can access in order to get legal support for, you know, making claims of sexual harassment. And so I think that this is a really straightforward and very smart idea. It was basically started by actors who realized that their field was getting so much attention because of the Weinstein stuff. And they were glitzy celebrities. And so they wanted to figure out how to how to make sure that this movement that was started was not confined to women who had the ability to lawyer up, essentially. But I think that we’ve seen this organization have some issues since it’s been founded. So, Christina, do you remember your first introduction to Time’s Up or what you thought of it?

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S1: Yes, and I was a little skeptical of Time’s Up at first, and not just because that’s sort of my default mode, but also because when it comes to nonprofits started by celebrity is I’m always like, hey, why didn’t you just give all of your money to someone who’s already doing that work? And Time’s Up actually has worked best when it has done that. You mentioned the Legal Defense Fund, which is operated by the National Women’s Law Center. It’s been extremely effective. That’s a great organization that already had its networks build its connections made and was very well-equipped to manage that fund. So I thought, you know, well, how is Time’s Up going to be different other than the fact that there are all these famous women attached to it, the fact that they’re wearing its logo around the red carpets. But I think I was hopeful, too, and I felt like it was possible that the MeToo movement, because it began in its modern form, there were so many revelations about men in Hollywood that I could I could have seen it being a real tipping point where women in Hollywood who had seen it all suffered through it at all and maybe were pissed that they weren’t making as much money as their male coworkers in addition to having to suffer through and witnessed sexual harassment. Maybe this would be the moment where they were actually able to seize power for themselves and by extension, redistribute some of that power to women who needed it more than they did.

S2: Obviously, this hasn’t exactly gone according to how I think some of these founders thought. It’s not exactly an implosion, but they’re definitely on the defensive. But we’re going to talk about that more in a second. But I wanted to start by talking about something that I read in one of The New York Times pieces about what’s happening with Time’s Up. And that was the expression I learned at reading this piece of trying to effect change by focusing on grass tops instead of grass roots. I had never personally experienced this theory before, but the theory is basically that rather than trying to, like, you know, affect change from the bottom and bring things up, it was like the theory is that if you really just go to the people who are running the organizations and really convince them of the seriousness of the situation and of the importance of taking this as seriously as possible in addressing it within your organization, like you can actually be much more effective, much more quickly. So the way that this interacts with Andrew Cuomo is because the chairwoman of Time’s Up is Roberta Kaplan, Robbie Kaplan, and she is a very well-known lawyer. She argued for gay marriage. That’s kind of one of the one of her most famous cases. And she’s been very involved with Time’s Up from the start. Turns out that she resigned in the past couple of weeks because she was advising Cuomo on how to handle these allegations and had even reviewed a letter smearing one of Cuomo accusers. So the Times story takes pains to note that like her feedback on that letter was, hey, maybe we shouldn’t do that. And it also notes that the actual president of the organization, Cheyna Chen, who’s kind of on this apology tour right now, basically participated in the same exact actions. The thing that I think that this has brought out for me is that Time’s Up has always been very aligned with very powerful people. It’s always been extremely aligned with the Democratic Party. And there have been issues that have come up with that before, like the women who were involved in running this organization were running, were raising tons of money for Joe Biden while he was being accused of sexual assault by Tara Reid. And it just raises to me several questions about is this OK? Should Rabie have stepped? Down, is it fair that she stepped down when the president did some of these same things? And I guess the main question that it raises for me, which I really don’t know what exactly I think the answer is, is like if we’re existing in this world where we’re finally taking men to task for what they’re doing. How do you know which men to definitely avoid? And like, is it ever useful for a woman who’s actually well versed in these things to offer support and advice to a man who is accused of sexual assault or harassment and even to a man who has committed sexual assault and harassment?

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S1: To your first question. The is it ever OK to like trust a man, basically? I mean, it’s still true in progressive politics that change will not happen without the consent of white men because they do hold disproportionate power in progressive politics. Even if we just say Democrats, you know, white men are disproportionately represented among Democrats when you consider the makeup of Democrats. So, yes, you have to engage them in your issues. However, I think that where progressive organizations, especially those that are trying to do that, are advocating on issues that are particularly salient for women like sexual harassment. They’ve stepped in it when they have focused on the people and the politicians at the expense of the issues. So I think it’s fine to say, you know, this legislation that Andrew Cuomo happened to sign is really important. I don’t think it’s OK to say Andrew Cuomo is a hero of the MeToo movement or, you know, he’s an amazing feminist ally. Anytime I hear someone call someone an ally, I think that’s you don’t know everything that they have done. You know, like when you bestow a definitive label on someone like that, as many of these people have done when it comes to Andrew, Cuomo and or other men, that’s when you set yourself up to fail. And I think this also demonstrates one of the pitfalls of a grass tops movement, because when you staff your organization and stock your board with rich, powerful people, they have long standing connections and allegiance to other rich, powerful people who are people with the capacity to abuse power and riches, you know, and possibly have. And so you if you have people in those positions of power in an organization like Time’s Up that you’ve brought into your organization, in part because of those connections, I think you need to make sure that those people are willing to sever connections for the sake of the cause. I think Roberta Kaplan wasn’t willing to do that. Neither was Alfonso David, who’s the head of the Human Rights Campaign, who was also involved in looking at this letter that never got published, whatever that was going to smear one of Cuomo accusers and who actually leaked her personnel file to Cuomo office, who then sent it to the press to try to discredit her. These are people who are progressive leaders. When you’re Roberta Kaplan

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S2: and you

S1: are leading time’s up and you choose to allow your firm to represent Melissa DeRosa, when most top aide who was like possibly the person most responsible for trying to cover up and justify his behavior besides him, you know, she she would rather represent her than continue in her position at Time’s Up. When you’re somebody who’s leading a principals driven organization, your principles are all you have in a situation like this will make people question them.

S2: Yeah, I think that that ultimately helps clarify where I come down on this, because all of this sort of at first when I was thinking about it, it really reminded me a little bit of the debate that was had over whether Harvey Weinstein deserved legal representation. And part of that debate was because the lawyer who was representing him also worked as like an academic like House advisor at Harvard. And I think that that that whole conversation makes me realize that we’re where I come down on this issue is that it’s totally acceptable to say that as a woman, you are allowed to give Cuomo advice about how to deal with these allegations. It might be true that you’re giving him good advice about how to deal with these allegations like we do actually need to to deal with men in the world still as as you point out. But I think that where I come down is that the thing that is the hardest is to try to do both at the same time. So you could support time’s up and do that. But I think that it is really dicey to get into a place where you’re actually leading time’s up. And then doing that, like I think that the issue for me is that it’s just tricky for anyone to do both of those things at the same time, and that doesn’t mean that I think that we should all have a perfect Spidey sense about who is actually guilty of things before we have any proof on those matters. I don’t think that like we can expect everyone to be able to, like, make the right choices all the time. But I just think that in this situation, if we’re going to look at an organization like Time’s Up and Not and be able to trust it like that is really important. And the other thing that I have felt a lot that you mentioned, too, while reading the reporting about this is that it’s all kind of about some of this internal squabbling. And like if everyone who is involved has like the shiniest, best credentials, but like the most depressing thing to me was just from like a low level staffer who had left after, I think less than a year there, who just had like this organization was not focused on what to do to help survivors like this organization was focused on many other things. But like that, that wasn’t the focus. And I think it’s hard because, yeah, like Cuomo did sign good bills into law. And like he he extended the statute of limitations on accusations of rape. And those things are important. But I think that you can figure out how to support legislation like that and not have to support the politician himself. Right. And I think there

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S1: are certain things that are specific to this time’s up case that feel particularly egregious to me. One of them is providing their statement to Cuomo office before it was released to the public. What did that mean materially? Did Cuomo have a head start on some kind of response? No, he didn’t even issue a response because the statement was so bland that he didn’t even need to respond to it. But to me, that is a betrayal of the people you’re supposed to be protecting. And a little bit of an answer to the question of what side are you on? You talked about it’s OK to perhaps provide counsel to somebody who has been accused of sexual harassment or somebody who may have actually sexually harassed someone. The question I would ask to somebody who’s wondering whether it’s OK for them to do that or like wondering about the ethics there is what are you counseling them to do? Is your council going to be used to help them beat the charges of a credible accusation? Or is your counsel supposed to be helping them try to be a better person or respond to accusations without shaming and blaming the people who you’ve harassed? Because it sounds to me like by counseling somebody who did harass people. By all accounts, during the time when he is trying to remain in office and deny those accounts, it feels like you’re just trying to help him get off scot free, which is completely counter to the purpose of the Time’s Up organization.

S2: Yeah, I think it’s really I think it’s really hard because it’s really tempting to think like, oh, I’m really involved in this, I’m a good person. I can go in and help him deal with this and help him be a better person. And I think that, like we were talking earlier about how the Cuomo investigation is like almost a novel example of an investigation going well. One of the things I’ve been long obsessed with is the idea of on ramps. And by that, I mean like, OK, so somebody is accused of something like this. They admit that they did it. And like, is there a world in which they can make some sort of amends for this and come back into public life? And I don’t think that everybody will ever be satisfied. But like they at least try and like many people can can decide that they’ve done it. I really don’t think that we’ve seen a great example of that. I just sort of think that I very much do understand the temptation to think that you can like bring in your feminist credentials and make the situation better. But I just think that in this situation, I think that that question of why they were doing it is is really important. And and I think that it was for nefarious reasons, not necessarily for forwarding the cause reasons. Yeah.

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S1: Or even just because are personal and political connections sort of blinded them to the reason why they were associated with time’s up in the first place. And I wonder if there’s a point where you’re so enmeshed in these political circles of helping each other out that you forget that it means something to stand for something, and that there are lines that people can cross that you don’t have to follow them over. And I wonder if they feel more of an allegiance to Andrew Cuomo and his aides because of whatever existing political connections they have than they do to, you know, the National Women’s Law Center or the individual women who have banded together under the banner of Time’s Up to try to make change in their industries.

S2: The last. The question that I had for you about all of this is with all of that said, do you think that there is a bit of a double standard or a higher standard that we we’re holding these women to because they’re women?

S1: I mean, I guess I guess I don’t really care. I think that my personal standards are equivalent for everyone. I guess I expect women to act better, especially when they are leading organizations for women’s rights. But I don’t think it bothers me as much as it does other people if if those standards end up being applied in different ways. In a perfect world, all the men who also aided and abetted Andrew Cuomo would be stepping down. I think in this case, it’s a little bit more about. Hypocrisy in betraying the values of a specific organization. You know, if there was a man who was running a man against sexual harassment organization that was also helping Andrew Cuomo strategize, I would feel the same way about him.

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S2: Yeah, I think that I definitely feel cognizant of the fact that there’s a little bit of like gross glee about the hypocrisy angle. And I definitely feel like these women aren’t the ones who did necessarily the worst things. And yet there’s something about watching this that makes it feel like we’re we’re focusing more attention on them in a way that I think is is totally analogous to how Kirsten Gillibrand kind of got the worst end of the stick for all that happened with with Al Franken. So I feel conscious of that. And that just kind of feels like the universal constant. We live in a sexist world. And that’s that’s the thing that’s going to continue to happen. In your point of like. Yeah, it’s it’s not just because they’re women, it’s because they’ve positioned themselves as as advocates for this specific thing. And when you do that, you you are asking to be held to a different standard. So it’s more because of that them because of the mere fact that they’re women. And I feel pretty comfortable with that. So before we head out, we wanted to give some recommendations. Christina, what are you loving right now?

S1: I want to recommend a new piece by one of my favorite short story writers, Rebecca Makkai. Longtime Wavves listeners might remember that I once recommended her story collection, Music for War Time, which came out in 2015. She has a new story out in Harper’s called Women. Corinne does not actually know. It is about a woman who’s spending the summer in a southern college town. She’s away from her family, so she has time alone enough to ruminate about all manner of women. She doesn’t know the women she sees in town, women she sees on the news, and particularly the women who exist in the lives of the men in her life. So she’s able to sort of get a window into their lives because the Internet considering making contact with a few of them, specifically the wife of the man who raped her in college and the wife of the man she’s having an affair with. I couldn’t stop reading it. I was reading it one morning over breakfast and I didn’t stop even after I finished eating, which is unique for me. I mean, it’s like breezily written, I would say, but also really biting in a way that stuck with me. And I really like stories that give me a new way to think about things I already do. And this is definitely one of them. What are you recommending, Susan? Well, first, I just

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S2: need to note that that story is open in my tab’s, and I haven’t started reading it yet, but I’m definitely going to read it now.

S1: Yeah. Do yourself a favor. I mean, block off some time because you’re not going to want to stop reading it.

S2: OK, I won’t do it over breakfast. So I was like, what am I going to recommend? Because, as you know, I have just been on vacation for an extended period of time and not consuming as much media or media, any kind of, you know, news for

S1: the beautiful vistas of

S2: Wyoming, only the beautiful vistas of Wyoming. But then I realized that the thing that I want to recommend is sending actual mail and particularly specifically sending postcards. So we went to Dinosaur National Monument on our travels, which was an excellent choice. It was like a very under crowded national park, which I feel like it’s not a national park at the national monument. That’s why. Which is a hard thing to find right now as everyone is like trawling the West, just trying to have a vacation and also not get coronavirus. But while we were there, my boyfriend picked up a few postcards and I was like, why is he doing this? Like, what is going to happen? And then last night I got home and he had written them out to two of his cousins sets of kids, and then he had saved the last one for my niece. And they’re like dinosaur bones. And all of those kids obviously are super into dinosaurs. And we paused and wondered, like, are these children going to like think that one piece of paper that we’re sending them in the mail is interesting? But I remember that my mind is definitely like does drawings and does crafts and sends them to family members in the mail. So I’m very excited to send her. And the other boys these postcards. And so that is my recommendation for this week.

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S1: Wow. That is so sweet. So you are of the belief that postcards don’t need to be sent while you’re on vacation?

S2: Certainly. Absolutely not. I feel fine about sending it afterwards. The oldest child in the situation is six. He’s not going to know.

S1: I appreciate that. Yeah, because I think the the task of doing it while on vacation always prevents me from sending postcards. But I think it could be even more meaningful afterwards, almost like as an exercise in remembering how great everything was.

S2: Yeah, that is another benefit. And one, when they receive them, will remember how great our occasion was again. Yeah, just extending it. That’s our show this week. The Waves is produced by Jane Arraf.

S1: Susan Matthews, you’re our editorial director with June Thomas, providing oversight and moral support.

S2: If you like the show, be sure to subscribe rate and review wherever you get your podcasts. And please consider supporting the show by joining Slate. Plus, members get benefits like zero ads on any Slate podcast and bonus content of shows like this one. It’s only one dollar for the first month to learn more. Go to sleep dot com, slash the wave funds.

S1: And as always, we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at the waves at Slate dot com.

S2: The waves will be back next week. Different hosts, different topic, same time and place by Susan by Christina.

S3: Now it’s time for our segment called Feminised Gateway for our Slate plus listeners, where we talked about the things that helped make us feminist. Rebecca What is your feminist gateway? I feel kind of ridiculous for bringing this up because this is something I just started doing in the past four years. And I’m 43 and I’ve been I’ve been a feminist since 1991 or something, maybe 1990. But I just started doing CrossFit, which is I’m sure if anyone’s been living under a rock and hasn’t heard about all the sort of terrible right wing people who love CrossFit, it doesn’t maybe seem on the surface of it to be a very quote unquote feminist activity. But I’m talking about it because I have thought a lot in recent years about how much when I was younger, kind of how disconnected I was from sports and movement as a younger person. I don’t know if you had this experience, because I feel like you were probably always a runner. But but when I was, you know, defining myself as a feminist, as a younger person, I sort of thought the sportiness was not part of it or that movement was like, not for me, because I was always kind of like awkward and tall and weird. And the thing I really like about at least my CrossFit gym and let me give a shout out to CrossFit Ezio and Athens, Ohio. It’s run by a woman. And the class that I am in is often all women. And they are part of the idea of CrossFit, which sort of gets a little bit lost, is that everyone is supposed to be able to do the movement. So the idea is that it’s supposed to be scalable. And the other idea is that it’s supposed to make you feel better in your body and when you’re doing everyday movements. So there are people who do it to try to like look really good or maybe to try to sort of like achieve great heights at competitions or something. But I do it because since I started doing it when I’m like crouching on the ground fixing something and my small child like jumps on my back, I don’t want to die. And in fact, I feel like you can I can actually withstand that and even enjoy it. And the kind of enhanced durability of my body since starting in, I don’t know. It’s made me think a lot about what kinds of avenues girls get to build strength and really want to as my own girl gets a little bit bigger. Think a lot about, you know, giving her chances to do that that aren’t really about competition, but are just about like feeling really good and feeling really strong. So that’s my gateway, which is like one of severo gateways over 20 years. It’s like, yeah, it’s an evolution. I love that. I love that your class is like after all women. I went to a CrossFit studio very briefly in Brooklyn. So that was that was not the case. Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Yeah, I felt like I just have like weak arms, which I don’t I feel like is not to be like women have weak arms, but I feel like it’s just a little bit of of like a sex thing that sometimes women can like upper body strength or need. Like I couldn’t like walk into the class and start doing all of the upper arm moves. Oh, yeah. The whole class was doing. And that was very frustrating. And so I’m jealous of your setup. Oh, yeah. I mean, I mean, there are some women in my class, don’t get me wrong, who make me feel bad about myself, like regularly. And then whenever I start feeling that way, I’m like, just tamp it down. Like that’s not what this is for now. Not to sound like a completely like having totally signed on to the program person. But one of the cool things about it is you go for a while is that people with a lot of upper body strength are good at some things and not go to other things because there’s such a range of emotions that and a lot of people can be good at different parts of it anyway. I don’t want to try to try to sell you on it. And I do know that when there are a lot of men in the class, it’s a different situation. We just happened to I think because I go to the six a.m. class, there’s like a lot of teachers and nurses and moms in the class who are trying to like get to like get back to their house and get their kids ready for school at or, you know, get to an early, early class or an early shift. So I think it’s just sort of happenstance, but it’s worked out really well. What’s your feminist gateway? My feminist gateway is an assignment in like a Gender Studies 101 class that I took, I think, with my sophomore junior year of college. And the assignment was to make a zillion and Zoom’s for the uninitiated. Ah, Rebecca, you may have this definition job better than I do, but basically, like you make your own little magazine. It is what it sounds like. I made mine out of printer paper and I collaged things and I think copied part of a book and put it in and wrote my thoughts about the book. And then, you know, you make copies of that so you can distribute it or are handed it to your college professor. Yeah. And it actually became the Zehm that I made was about being a woman in a physics department. I studied physics in college, and it felt like this way to open up and say how like I really felt about it and process some of my emotions in what felt like a little bit more formal of a way than a journal like, oh, I’m creating this for someone else to read it. But, you know, it has a distribution of like one person. And yeah, I have this woman who is teaching gender studies class. And so it felt very, very safe. And it was a really fun mode of expression. And it ended up becoming the basis for an op ed that I wrote for the student newspaper about sexism in the physics department. And that blew up in its own way. But I think I was already a feminist by then, but it ended up being this very direct gateway to me, expressing my feminism on like a larger scale. It sounds like it also got you hooked on publishing and writing, which is a different kind of way. Yeah. I mean, I was super into the student newspaper at that point, but it like really like strengthened this resolve that I had to to be like an opinion writer and to think about opinion writing as a tool to effect change or if not affect change, at least like say something important and build solidarity and figure out like where I was going in life, which happened to be away from the physics departments. Do you ever miss doing like writing in a like on a physical piece of paper? In that way, do you ever sort of fantasize about doing that again or is it just me? Oh, my God. Now that you mention it kind of. Yeah, it’s like that tactile that tactile feeling is very nice. You know, what I fantasize about more than writing on a piece of paper is like writing something that people see, but like not that many people. I, I feel like we working at Slate, like, you know, I can write on my desk in my diary, my nonexistent diary, or I can write like my diary is actually my notes app on my phone. So I could write in my notes app on my phone, or I can write for like a national audience. And I kind of crave that, like, whoa, distribution like mode of being is a zeen or that like was the student newspaper where it’s like, you know, if a thousand people read something you write in the student newspaper, that’s a lot. Unfortunately, I think you need a sub stock. Oh, no. That’s what we’re all doing now is the Nasha now. But that can still but the substate can still escape the context and and get into the hands of people that you didn’t think it was going to get into the hands of. I mean, I guess paper can do that, too, but paper is very paper’s very like geographically limited. Yeah. Yeah, it’s so much slower. Yeah. I fantasize about having a newsletter that we write for, like just the employees of Slate. I’m like ends like not not in a like, oh, we’re like this exclusive club way, but just in like, oh, these are like some particular things that like only the people, the members at this work place would care about. Yeah, I think that would be fun. Yeah. Man, that’s just ah, slack channels. But in like a a more developed form. Yeah. I also have this fantasy and I think I like actually want to do this after Covid subsides of like hosting a Zen party at my apartment and like putting out materials and having people come. And then like, you know, this is where it gets tricky, like where it’s like my type of action as behavior could like Bruen this before it even gets off the CrossFit. I’m like and then I could like make copies of everyone so that I can nelvana out to the attendees of the party. So I like that. Yes. Have you ever made a zine? I made a bunch of magazine type objects in college that were sort of along those lines, like I think of azine and also the topping kind of radical politics. Mhm. Yeah. And I was already in college, like trying to lay a path for myself to like I don’t know, whatever I was, whatever I was trying to do, I did with my friend Jake. And we made like a magazine that the Journal of American Contemporary Culture that was like like serious analysis of Saving Private Ryan and like wrestling and and stuff like that. Like basically like what we do now, but like a whale, a college level kind of I don’t know, unfortunately, I feel like I was a little bit careerist about it. I feel like the liberatory potential of it is is much greater when you’re not trying to like imagine that you would use it to show a future employer that you can that you’re have like an editorial acumen or something. Oh, man. Yeah. I was always like this, as they say. All right. That’s our Slate Plus segment. Thank you again so much for subscribing. And if you’d like to share your feminism gateway, send us an email at the waves at CENTCOM. We’d love to hear from you.