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Can You Keep a Secret on International Women's Day?

Some pretty mighty men fell this last year... Except one

On this International Women’s Day it’s amazing how many people are still against a woman making a buck. While men across the developed world chase the almighty dollar and get cheered on for it, women with the same desire for cash are still called names: from aggressive to greedy. And while living the capitalist dream is pretty far from the origins of International Women’s Day, it is rather remarkable that after more than a hundred years of celebrating, women are still vilified for their commercial appetites.

A hundred-and-one years ago, women in Russia protested for “bread and peace.” World War I had been raging for 33 months and both bread and peace were hard to come by. But the women stood up for it anyway.

It’d be difficult to miss the similarities today. Oh sure, in the U.S. wars are more out-of-sight, out-of-mind then the Great War was to women in Eastern Europe in 1917, but an occasional photo from Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, or one of the dozens of U.S. conflict zones around the world shows a woman or her child desperately in need of both peace and bread.

These unresolved conflicts that impact women so devastatingly on the other side of the world beg for the focus to remain on war and hunger—but because of the distance and lack of media focus, the purpose of International Women’s Day in the western world has morphed. Women in developed nations remain relatively insulated from bloody conflicts and have the luxury to fight for social and economic justice. More specifically, in the United States, women fight for adequate pay and they fight for control over their bodies.

Women’s roles have changed. Women’s work was once literally comfort-giving. Comfort their partner, raise the children, keep the secrets, encourage the ambitions of the men in their lives: you name it—women did it for less money and with less control over their own futures than the men they supported.

Gradually this seemed to be changing. Then, suddenly, everyone from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. l watched as the slow sea change turned to a tsunami. Women across America stopped doing their most integral comfort job—they stopped keeping secrets. The #MeToo movement knocked men off their pedestals. Women ratted out abusers. Women came clean on all the unlawful sexual requirements made of them by their supervisors, while those same men accumulated greater power, wealth and prestige.

And wow, some pretty mighty men fell. They fell far and they fell fast.

Except one. Somehow the man who made his confession in an Access Hollywood tape has yet to fall. But this International Women’s Day that might actually change. See, in the past, the President of the United States—or someone working for him—has been able to secure the silence of his accusers. Until now, when it appears that a lawsuit might free up one of his former loves to speak freely of their affair.

So what is America’s response? President Trump’s defenders have attacked Stephanie Clifford’s character. Better known by her stage name, Stormy Daniels, Ms. Clifford’s detractors insist she can’t be trusted because of how she makes her money and what she does with her body.

Really? That again.

Here’s how to tell that society does not view women the same way that it views men. The fallback discussion about whether a woman is trustworthy is what she does with her body. That is not the conversation going on right now about the president’s actions and whether he can be trusted. Secondly, it’s pretty easy to tell that the president trusts Clifford. Because the discussion has never been about whether President Trump paid Clifford for sex. No, the lawsuit is about whether or not Trump—or someone acting on his behalf—paid her to provide that ultimate comfort: keeping a secret.

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Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States."  Her new novel, The Magic Diary, is due out in late spring.

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