Unpacking With Lex: On The Money


Have y’all seen the website for International Women’s Day? The #BalanceForBetter hashtag seems a little aspirational — super-aspirational — but in a good way. The ultimate goal of said campaign is a gender-balanced society — which requires either more money in the hands of women (the benefits of which we saw in the community health workers in Togo) and/or social safety nets — something many….most countries, including ours, are lacking. And therein sort of lies the crux of where we are right now. There are SO. MANY. STEPS that must come first. Healthcare for all? Universal childcare? Paid maternity AND paternity leave? Universal basic income? Tuition-free college? Functional transportation systems? Closing the gender pay gap? Freedom from domestic violence and child marriage? ALL OF IT.

When you read about the theme and its goals (#BalanceForBetter is a year-long campaign) they are admirable, and I think we ALL want to get on board.

“Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

THIS inspires action and is most certainly worth championing. But the pose (if you haven’t gone to the website yet — go now, I’ll wait — (like me, above)), that we’d love to see you all take-on and tag us @themomedit, looks hesitant and unsure, almost like a tag question personified.

There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with the pose per se, it simply seems like everyone I know who’s commented on it wants to see something stronger, more certain. If you scroll through #InternationalWomensDay and #BalanceforBetter, you’ll see a whole beautiful mess of inspirational takes on the theme. I’d suggest something more like this:

From International Women's Day and Women's & Black History Months, to females in finance, snark on politics & false accusations, we're unpacking it all.

or even this…

From International Women's Day and Women's & Black History Months, to females in finance, snark on politics & false accusations, we're unpacking it all.

— Balance for better? — Sure?…. Let’s hope so…

Money, Money, Money

When it comes to balancing for better, money always helps. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby (uh-huh, yeah)…I’m not sure “all about the Tubmans, baby” has the same ring, but let’s try it. Back in 2015 we (thanks to Women on 20s) voted to put a woman on the money in the year 2020 — the $20 bill to be exact (side note: Goose, who was three at the time, and I voted for different women. Ha!). Women on 20s is still holding out hope that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will follow through with previous treasury secretary Jack Lew’s directives to put Tubman on the 20, but that’s unclear as of now. At least we have Stacey Cunningham, who was named president of the New York Stock Exchange last year (THE FIRST FEMALE in a 226-year HIStory).

BUT, what we can celebrate, is that we’re FINALLY getting more women into the money industry — even though it’s nowhere near enough. Think of 2019 as where we were in 2017 with the #MeToo movement — or maybe I dunno, 1960, you pick. If you don’t know who Sallie Krawcheck is — KNOW HER. I can’t summarize her entire career, but I highly recommend this seriously funny and informative sesh with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Krawcheck is CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, and her mission is to help women get more money in the hands of women. Holla! She breaks down everything from the DROP in female CEOs and why women (queen bees) fail to hire and promote other women, to why we hold women and people of color to a higher standard than white men, and why men continue to hire and promote people like them (perpetuating the cycle of white men hiring white men). She has solutions for all these problems — that Actually Make Sense. Krawcheck is FIERCE (and funny) and someone we should all be following. Watch this Queen B (as in Badass) here.

To allll of Krawcheck’s points, Blair duQuesnay, who recently penned The New York Times op-ed Consider Firing Your Male Broker, is right. There’s a reason why I’m annoyed that mine keeps questioning my after-school care cost in my budget. Seriously dude — that’s the thing in my budget I should cut? Should I also stop working? What working woman would tell me to cut my after-school childcare? In her interview on The Brian Lehrer Show, duQuesnay calls for change in an industry where “years of research shows female investors outperform men. But only about 1 in 5 brokers are women.” There’s actually EVIDENCE that female brokers are BETTER than the dudes who think testosterone shots lead to better performance on the trading floors of Wall Street. GASP! Listen to hear another advisor who calls with the analogy that like Ginger Rogers, women have to do everything men do, “but backwards and in high heels,” to even be considered competent — maybe. YUP.

And the bias reigns free across the whole field. 

Economics reporter Heather Long wrote ‘Please, listen to us’: What it’s like being female at America’s biggest economic conference” for The Washington Post, and you can hear the interview with Kai Ryssdal on Marketplace here. Her stories are shocking and appalling — from “not enough room at a table” for the ONE FEMALE PRESENTER, to Long herself being told she could look online for a “less mathy” version of an economics paper — twice — by two different men — in one 24-hour period. Yeh…Keep callin’ for change, Yellen.

The Lowdown

Remember the Ladies: Ladies, it’s also Women’s History Month. This genteel undertaking by proper organizations ranging from the Library of Congress to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is much like Black History Month. It seems like Her Story is supposed to take shape from a variety of out-of-context artistic and educational initiatives and exhibits and resources that we view, or hopefully examine, to layer over the history we study and honor the other 11 months of the year. It’s interesting to reflect on the role of these “history months” in the lives of adults. Do we go to all the museums? Do we discuss with our kids? Do we correct the traditional (and often incomplete narratives)?

Re: incomplete narratives, Rebecca Traister, author of “Good And Mad: the Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger” was recently on the Late Show. Y’all! — she is sooo charming and engaging — honestly, I wouldn’t have predicted her warm vibe from her podcast interviews, but you’ve gotta see this clip of her from Colbert’s interview. Not only does she fully highlight current examples of exactly HOW POWERFUL women’s anger is, she also brings up a few little-known moments from history in which women’s anger really was truly revolutionary.

Speaking of Money: ALL THE MILLIONAIRES are in an uproar about proposals to change the marginal tax rate. (I’m just going to throw around some tax terms like I know what I’m talking about)— but that doesn’t matter. Because this is one of those Overton Window things (the range of ideas the public is willing to consider and accept, we’ll talk more about this month), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is amazing at expanding the Overton Window — just like she did recently when proposing a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent. Her proposal isn’t what’s flooring to most of us — what is, is that for much of U.S. history, us “regular” Americans didn’t pay federal taxes — that was for the rich until World War II, when the top marginal tax rate was set at 70 percent OR HIGHER until the 1980s. Listen to the history with Scott Simon here. There are other proposals out there for taxing the rich, and the Patriotic Millionaires have some ideas of their own, which you can also hear on The Brian Lehrer Show. To hear a debate on how this could work (or not) listen to this Here & Now segment.

Snark & Politics: If nothing else is true about whatever happened with the Year of the Woman, it’s that nasty might the new nice. I’m hoping we all saw the image by Doug Mills of the New York Times, of Nancy Pelosi giving Donald Trump “the claps” during the State of the Union address. You would think the AP News headline A special kind of shade: Pelosi smirks, dismisses Trump says it all, but there’s more: from Pelosi’s daughter… And before you get your panties in a bunch, this is not a partisan thing, it’s a MOM thing. Here’s what she had to say: “Oh yes that clap took me back to the teen years,” tweeted Pelosi’s daughter, Christine. “She knows. And she knows that you know. And frankly she’s disappointed that you thought this would work. But here’s a clap.”

From International Women's Day and Women's & Black History Months, to females in finance, snark on politics & false accusations, we're unpacking it all.

So, Moms, the lesson is that you no longer need to yell, you just need to “CLAP” or “clap”, depending on what message you want to send.

Along the same vein, Cardi B is finally on my radar. I don’t really know her music, I’ll admit, but she got super-feisty on her IG channel during the Government Shutdown. Stephen Colbert even started a Twitter petition to have her give the Democratic response to the State of the Union address. And let me get real, real for a second — she has also inspired me to figure how and when I could use “I will dog walk you” appropriately — and to whom I would say it to. Let me know if you try that.

The Problem With Worrying About False Accusations: When we discuss consent, here on TME or as a nation, there’s a small but fervent cry from some women about the concern that their sons will be falsely accused. That fear, unless these are the Mothers Of Black Boys In America, is usually untethered in reality and without corroborating evidence. What does actually happen when parents or entire communities and industries are obsessed with false accusations, are R. Kelly situations. (By the way Google, you can probably move his website further down on the Search page right about yesterday). This New Yorker conversation addresses how the mysterious collective Americans often refer to as “The Black Community” protected and possibly enabled the R. Kelly offenses documented in Surviving R. Kelly, and The Washington Post examines the role of the music industry in relation to Kelly’s too-many-to-count offenses of child abuse, child pornography, emotional distress, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse — among others.

It’s similar circumstances that likely precipitated children, parents and society as a whole to allow their devotion to Michael Jackson to blind them to the events alleged in Leaving Netherland, a documentary featuring the accounts of two likely victims, which aired last weekend. As depressing as these situations are, let’s hope we’ll focus less on the possibility of falsely accused men, and more on the probability of victims’ accusations. One wise person in an interview I can’t put my finger on right now, said she hopes that that one issue this documentary in the context of #metoo will bring to light, is more support for male victims of sexual violence. That would be another step forward.

…About Last Month

It’s not just my child’s history or the history of people who look like us, it is American history.”

So last month I mentioned how perplexed I am that Black History Month seems like it hasn’t evolved much over the decades. Turns out I’m not alone. Author and journalist Celeste Headlee points out that ‘Negro History Week’, originating in the 1920s with Carter Woodson, was meant to be a temporary fix, perhaps until one day schools would integrate ALL of American history into the year-round curriculum. Some of us wonder if any of this would get taught without Black History Month. If you like your uncomfortable topics served with a side of humor, go for Samantha Bee’s approach. True to form, she goes all in on the problem with providing a sanitized, incomplete and out of context history of America. From keeping “black history palatable” to eliminating its usefulness, the 6-minute serious-but-tongue-in-cheek (you WILL giggle) clip featuring New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb and comedian George Wallace, among others, gets to the grist of a history that refuses to acknowledge events that don’t make “for a good Hallmark moment”.

“You can’t separate kids at the border, and then tweet out congratulations about Dr. King’s great legacy.”

On the Media re-aired last year’s examination of “the George Washington Carver-ization of Black history.” Social critic Doreen St. Félix highlights that “Someone like Carver is over-emphasized because he doesn’t seem dangerous and that’s why his work with the peanut is always emphasize[d]. George Washington Carver was actually someone who advocated for black farmers in the south, but that’s not something that you hear because, of course, then a suite of questions ensue. Why were these Americans poor? Then you start talking about Jim Crow and that’s not something that is really encouraged in our general conversations.” Check it out.


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Lex is our resident nerd, watchful editor & Chief Innovation Officer. Voted most likely to win BIG on Jeopardy!, she keeps us ahead of the curve, whether in mapping out strategy that has us dropping content at the moment you’re Googling for it, or branching us out into new channels/ media & letting us know what trends are giving. If you sit in on any meeting, you’ll often hear the phrase, “Ok, so Lex was right…” With her own personal style (boots, dresses, scarves), she doesn’t consider herself a fashionista, but she is keeping us #well #sustainable #empathetic #inclusive #current #DownToEarth & #OpenMinded; her wisdom ranges from yoga home practice & Feng Shui-ing an apartment, to living overseas & crushing analytics.

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  1. What a fantastic rundown!! So great to have a summary of things we should all care about and keep up with. Will this be a weekly feature? I hope so. It reminds me a bit of the website weeklysift (another favorite of mine). Lex, I love how clearly and concisely you present information. Brava.

    • Thanks, Annie! This is great to hear. For now, it’ll be monthly. I’ll have to check out the Weekly Sift. xx

  2. Thank you! I learned several new things from this post! As a woman working at a large bank, i appreciate your coverage of the issue!

    • I love that Kathleen! My first five years of teaching were at a historically black high school, and it takes a lot of work to reorganize and reframe the curriculum — especially one is teaching literature and social studies. Thanks for sharing. xx

  3. Hi Lex! Is this a weekly thing? Oh I sure hope so. Good stuff here. I wasntw expecting George Wallace with my breakfast this morning, but he is exactly what I needed! Thank you!

    • I love this comment, Sasha! Wasn’t that clip great?! For now, we’re sticking to monthly, and we’ll see how that goes. It’s good to know our readers are finding it relevant. xx

  4. This! This is why I keep coming back to this site. Clothes are fun (duh) but we are so much more than that. What a fabulous article and I hope it becomes a regular feature.

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