When news broke that NY Governor Mario Cuomo resigned after a report by NY Attorney Letitia James concluded that he routinely sexually harassed females I couldn’t wait to watch MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow share her analysis of what occurred. Rachel is quite a skilled anchor and I rely on her to dissect important issues and share nuances that really make issues easy to understand. I was not disappointed. Rachel went through a litany of former male politicians in NY who had committed various crimes or misdeeds that resulted in NY Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul’s ascension in politics to include her new stint as the first female Governor of NY. At one point in the story Rachel said that it was remarkable (and I am paraphrasing) that so many men had to commit such egregious acts for a woman to be sworn in as Governor.
Women have always had such a hard road. And it has not been just black women who have had a hard time. It has been all women. So much is expected of us and even when we follow all the rules (get the credentials, gain exemplary skills and somehow manage all our various roles) it takes men getting in trouble, after all other options have been excluded for us to be put in a position of authority.
I thought about this when I observed something happen a bit close to home. This week I saw a friend who received word that her uncle passed barely thirty minutes before she had to do a presentation on her job. Her colleagues, upon learning of her uncle’s passing, offered to do her presentation, yet she insisted she would still do it. I was told she did great.
Teresa and I planned for months to hold our first virtual Earrings Off event. Three days before the event my sister died. I hated to tell Teresa because I knew she would want to cancel the event. I didn’t want to do that after so much planning. I also wanted the event to be over, so I could focus on what I needed to do relative to the needs of my extended family as we navigated through our grief. I, like my friend, dismissed Teresa’s offer and carried on with the presentation.
My friend’s insistence to carry on, while she was visibly grieving the passing of her uncle made me remember I did the same thing. These days, as women, we read a lot and talk a lot about self-care. I really hope we are not just thinking about it in terms of controlling our schedule to get our nails done, or to exercise or have a girl’s night out. All that is good and is needed. There have been times in my life I would not have survived various challenges but for making essential time to get support and counsel from my girls. However, I sincerely hope we get it in our spirit that it is ok to admit that the moment that we are in, due to present circumstances, is too much and that we need to tap out just like wrestlers do when they are injured and in pain. As women, we need to normalize that response for each other. If history is any indication, only we can do that.