A Slow Burn: Why Matt Lauer Got Fired But Trump Is Still President

Bill Cosby. Louis C.K. Billy Bush. Harvey Weinstein. Charlie Rose. Matt Lauer.

They’re dropping like flies.

The entertainers, the storytellers, the interviewers… As more women feel empowered to tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault, the walls of protection around these powerful men are crumbling. And that’s fine. Burn this shit down, you  know? Let them all feel the shame that women have carried as their own misplaced burden for so many years.

And yet. As we start to put the pressure on entertainers and other public figures to, I don’t know, be decent human beings and not total cavemen… where is the accountability for those who hold the most power?

I’ll not go through the laundry list of Al Frankens and Roy Moores–who, FFS, is wholeheartedly endorsed by the evangelical Christian voice of Alabama–we know who they are. Let’s look straight to the top. Matt Lauer lost his job about 30 seconds after a report of misconduct, but Creeper in Chief is still sitting in the Oval Office like he owns this piece. He is still lying to our faces about the pu$$y-grabbing tapes that we can hear with our own ears. He is still riding the wave of fame and fortune that he built on the widespread and systemic objectification of women. He still denies every accuser who says he cornered, demeaned, groped or assaulted her–and that list, folks, is long.

While Hollywood and corporate America seem to be cranking up the accountability on serial abusers, the President of the United States continues to bulldoze anyone who dares confront him.

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To be clear, the fact that Matt Lauer got fired and Trump is still President says nothing about either of them, personally. They are both the worst. But it does say everything about us; and a collective values system that holds entertainers to some nebulous moral standard, but expects literally nothing of its policy-makers. It says everything about the hedge of protection that seems to ward off any threat to the absolute authority of white men in power. It says everything about the impenetrable fortress surrounding patriarchy, and how much fire and fury it will take to burn it down.

Our priorities are clear, culturally speaking: we want the appearance of equality. We want those whose faces we see on the morning news or the movie screen to represent us well and to reflect some modicum of decency. But the guys with real decision-making power? The ones who build the systems we all have to live within? They can do whatever they want. Half of America still thinks it is just fine that Trump is in the White House. We are not escaping that reality any time soon, no matter how many women are brave enough to share their stories. And as long as that is true, we will also not escape the trickle down effects in our larger government system. Ergo, Roy Moore, Al Franken, et al.

I just wrote a whole book of flaming feminist outrage (which, BTW, you can pre-order now!) and every morning that I wake up and scan the news, I want to add another chapter. And another. And another.

I’m exhausted of the constant revelations: and I have not faced half the horror that many women have endured. I’ve never been sexually assaulted, never been abused by a family member, never not gotten a job, etc. And yet. I have been harrassed and dismissed. I have been grabbed and groped, judged and talked down to. I have been trolled, hard, in the Christian blogging world. And I constantly encounter people telling me to be softer and nicer and more pleasant because nobody likes loud angry women.

Every woman I know is exhausted right now. The news itself is a daily trigger warning. Predators are everywhere. Nothing will surprise you. It could be anybody. Your boss, your neighbor, your Congressman, your dad’s lifelong best friend… Who falls next? It makes for a constant anxiety loop.

Rome is burning. Our childhood icons are sex offenders, our funny guys are pretty unfunny after all, and the smiling morning news guy is actually a leering bully.

It’s troubling to watch the empire burn, because we are part of the empire. But if you feel despairing about the sheer volume of outed misogynists lately, flip the script. Just remember: every career that goes up in flames bears witness to a woman who was brave enough to tell. And then another, and another, and another. We can watch the fire in terror, wondering what part of our safe and familiar lives will catch next… or we can fan the flames. We can remember those are flames of justice, flames of truth-telling, flames of #metoo and “no more.”

So nurture the fire. Stay angry. Listen to women. Believe women. Reject the culture of shame and victim blaming. Remember that when it all crumbles, we get to build something new. Women–and men of good conscience– will be the artists of the ashes. And what comes next has got to be good news. At some point, this heat will reach even the rotten center. And isn’t earth hottest at its core?

Burn this shit down, once and for all. Let it all just burn.

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