Keeping Score: “While We Have Our Eyes On the Future, History Has Its Eyes On Us”

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Amanda Gorman steals the spotlight at Biden’s inauguration; female reporters speak on covering the Trump White House; women wear pearls in support of VP Kamala Harris; Roz Brewer makes history as Walgreens CEO; Press Sec. Jen Psaki promises interpreters at briefings; President Biden rejoins Paris Climate Agreement; and more. (Clockwise from top left: FlickrTwitter, Flickr, Twitter, Flickr)

Lest We Forget 

+ “This is still new for me. It stayed in the global agenda for a long time. Because we could not live our dreams together, the effects have weighed even heavier on me. If we had achieved our dreams, if we had been married, if it had gone a different way, I would have had more memories to hold onto. But everything stayed up in the air, stayed suspended. Even when I go to the apartment that we bought together, everything is so different. Even Istanbul, my city, looks so different to me after this experience. I mean, this is not a trauma you can describe. It is a terrible thing.”

Hatice Cengiz, fiancée of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in a translated interview with The New Yorker.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

It can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith, we trust.

For while we have our eyes on the future,

history has its eyes on us.

— Amanda Gorman, age 22, reading “The Hill We Climb” as the youngest inaugural poet in American history.

+ Elle compiled reflections from several female reporters on what it was like to cover the White House over the last four years:

“They called me in and said, ‘You’re not allowed to go to this event,’ even though it was open press. We got support from every outlet—Fox News, MSNBC—because everyone realized how messed up this was. It set a dangerous precedent to ban reporters whose business you don’t like.”

—CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins on covering the Trump administration.

“These last four years have been like wading through a river of lies and misinformation. I didn’t think my question was a particularly tough one, but Trump’s response highlighted just how temperamental he can be. Yamiche Alcindor, April Ryan, and I started a group text to commiserate. We’re like, ‘Girl, I can’t believe this happened to you,’ and ‘I hope you’re doing okay.’ We’re part of a supportive group, and we have each other’s backs when it matters.”

—CNN senior political correspondent Abby Phillip.

+ “It’s propaganda masquerading as a serious document with intellectual content. It continues decades of right-wing attacks on progressive, probing American history and, by extension, politics, law and culture.”

—Historian Margo Jefferson on the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission report, which she calls “blatant in its insults and provocations” for refuting America’s history of systemic racism. 

+ “Women lead differently, women have different motivating factors, often for women you have to be asked multiple times, we don’t give ourselves credit enough for the relevant experiences we have. And so often the other factor is an emotional connection. Women tend to run first at the local level. Why? Because we have kids in school, we see what’s happening on the school campuses, we run for school board.”

—Holly Mitchell on Alicia Garza’s podcast, “Lady Don’t Take No,” Episode 40.

+ “Thousands of people showed up for this unity concert, but part of me felt like, ‘Well, if all of those people had also showed up to counterprotest the white supremacists, maybe the outcome would have been a little different?’ When I hear those calls from Biden for unity, I’m thinking again, ‘What are the steps for justice that needs to happen before we can get there?’”

—Activist Ibby Han, who was a University of Virginia student organizer at the time of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally.

+ “They beat him up before he got into office and they’re beating him up after he leaves office… I mean at some point, give the man a break.”

—former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley on Laura Ingraham’s show, defending the disgraced President Donald Trump, despite having renounced his behavior.

Milestones

+ Sarah Thomas will be the first woman on a Super Bowl officiating crew when she is the down judge for Super Bowl LV on Sunday, Feb. 7, in Tampa, Fla.

+ The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, a WHO panel analyzing government response to the coronavirus, wrote in a report, “We have failed in our collective capacity to come together in solidarity to create a protective web of human security.”

+ On Monday, Jan. 18, just two days before the end of his term, Trump amended a previous executive order to build the National Garden of American Heroes honoring 244 individuals. But of the 13 sports figures included, there was not a single female athlete on Trump’s list.

+ Former Thai civil servant—identified by her first name, Anchan—was sentenced to over 43 years in prison for criticizing the nation’s monarchy on Facebook and YouTube. She was convicted on 29 charges under the lese-majesty law, which targets anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, queen, heir apparent or regent.” Had she not pled guilty, her sentence would have been doubled to 87 years.

+ In an act of solidarity with newly-inaugurated Vice President Kamala Harris, many women wore pearls the day that she was sworn into office. A Facebook group titled “Wear Pearls on Jan 20 2021” garnered over 430,000 members before the inauguration.

+ The term “second gentleman” was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in light of Vice President Kamala Harris’s historic inauguration alongside husband Doug Emhoff.

+ In response to corruption within its governing Cabinet, Estonian political parties selected the Reform Party’s chairwoman Kaja Kallas to be the country’s first female prime minister.

+ Newest Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has refused to recuse herself from a case against several oil companies including Shell, which employed father as an attorney for 29 years. Justice Sumuel Alito also plans to hear the case, despite owning stock in multiple oil and gas companies.

The Supreme Court already put an end to two lawsuits filed against Donald Trump for profiting off his hotels and restaurants in D.C. and New York, thereby violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses. 

+ In 2021, women will lead White House coverage for five major TV networks, four of which are new appointments: Cecilia Vega (ABC), Kaitlan Collins (CNN), Nancy Cordes (CBS), Kristen Welker (NBC), and continuing in her current role, Yamiche Alcindor (PBS).


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+ Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) introduced a House bill that would pull federal funding if an organization allows trans women and girls to participate in women’s sports, going so far as to allow genital exams in order to prove a child’s sex.

+ Soon-to-be Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Roz Brewer will be the only Black woman running a Fortune 500 company when she assumes the position on Mar. 15.

+ After he allegedly sent unsolicited, explicit photos to reporters while working as director of professional scouting for the Chicago Cubs, general manager Jared Porter was fired from his current position by New York Mets owner Steven Cohen.

+ Donald Trump, the first president to ever be impeached twice, set another record on Wednesday when he refused to attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration—becoming the first president since Nixon to be absent at his successor’s swearing-in.

+ A congressional measure in Honduras, referred to as a “shield against abortion” or “a shield to stop the green wave,” would prevent changes to current abortion laws with approval from three-quarters of Congress.

+ Seven congressional Democrats filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for their role in the Jan. 6 riots. The Democrats’ letter requested “recommendations for strong disciplinary action, including up to expulsion or censure, if warranted by the facts uncovered.” Democrats are also moving ahead with Trump’s second impeachment, scheduling his Senate trial to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

+ A judge ruling on Monday, Jan. 25 granted a $17.1 million settlement to victims of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault. The money will come from liquidation of Weinstein’s company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018. 

+ Seattle grocery store workers will soon receive a pay boost of $4 per hour, according to new City Council-approved legislation which grants the employees hazard pay for the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic.

+ Actress Cicely Tyson—famous for powerful portrayals of influential Black women, such as Coretta Scott King and Harriet Tubman—died on Thursday, Jan. 28 at age 96.

https://twitter.com/AlexJaySINGER/status/1356298724708913152

Biden’s First Days

+ Biden immediately fired corrupt officials who refused to resign at the end of Trump’s term, including former U.S. Agency for Global Media head Michael Pack, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Kathleen Kraninger, and National Labor Relations Board general counsel Peter Robb.

+ On his first day in office, Biden signed an array of executive orders ranging from COVID-19 response to environmental measures to LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections. In one order, America rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. Click here for a full list of his orders on day one. 

+ The Department of Homeland Security was ordered to pause deportations for 100 days, starting on Jan. 22, in order to “review and reset enforcement priorities” (though a Trump-appointed federal judge temporarily blocked the order at the request of Texas attorney general Ken Paxton). 

+ Biden also lifted Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, and rescinded the global gag rule which halted federal funding to organizations that discuss abortion. 

“No one should be denied information, no matter where they’re receiving care, their source of insurance, their income, or the health care services needed–especially time sensitive care like pregnancy care.” 

—Physicians for Reproductive Health president and CEO Dr. Jamila Perritt.

+ The White House reintroduced Obama-era efforts to replace President Andrew Jackson with abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

+ The president has, however, faced criticism after passing over former Pentagon policy chief Michèle Flournoy for the defense secretary role, instead choosing retired Gen. Lloyd Austin. Flournoy, who is highly respected within the national security community and thought to have been Hillary Clinton’s first choice for the position in 2016, would have been the first woman secretary of defense. Nevertheless, Austin was confirmed by the Senate and has since ordered a review of military efforts against sexual assault. 

+ Biden is expected to tap Susan Orsega as acting surgeon general—one of very few nurses to ever hold the position. Assistant secretary of health appointee Dr. Rachel Levine will be the first trans official confirmed by the Senate in American history.

+ A new order from the White House prohibits the Department of Justice from renewing private prison contracts. This drastic measure is aimed at furthering Biden’s racial equity plan.

+ Postmaster general Louis DeJoy, a GOP donor who entered the national spotlight after slowing down USPS services mid-election season, has no intention of leaving his post, nor does Biden have the power to fire him. The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors is responsible for staffing the position, and currently, all six governors are Trump-nominees, due to stay until at least October 2022.

+ The White House pledged to have a sign language interpreter present at every daily press briefing under the new administration. “The president is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families,” said press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday, Jan. 25. 

How We’re Doing

+ A poll conducted by ABC and the Washington Post just a week before Trump left office found that nearly 90 percent of Americans think the COVID-19 pandemic is “out of control.” The percentage increases to 94 percent among Democrats, whereas almost one-in-five Republicans do think the outbreak is mostly or completely controlled.

(Emily Guskin / The Washington Post)

Just over 60 percent of respondents said they will definitely or probably get vaccinated once it is available to their demographic, and 22 percent said they definitely will not. (Earning the trust of women is especially important in overcoming vaccine hesitancy and getting the entire U.S. vaccinated. Read more here.)

+ After a 10-year consistent decline in Japan’s suicide rate, the pandemic has exacerbated mental health struggles, resulting in 750 more suicides in 2020 than in 2019, and a 14.5 percent increase for women. This reflects a global trend of disproportionate burden placed upon women during the pandemic, especially in terms of job loss.

+ Researchers at Indiana University found that the initial coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. prompted economic collapse, before government shutdowns even went into effect: 

“The fall in spending occurred throughout the country and does not seem to have been moderated by state and local policies. The decline in employment happened a bit later than the immediate mobility and spending effects, but here as well the evidence suggests that social distancing policies are not associated with large differences in labor market outcomes across localities.”

+ The Fact Checker completed its final tally of false or misleading claims made during Donald Trump’s presidency: a total of 30,573, with almost half of them occurring in 2020. 

+ Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index has the U.S. ranking 25th among the least corrupt nations, dropping from 23rd last year.

+ The U.S. economy shrank 3.5 percent following nearly 10 months of pandemic-related shutdowns in 2020, hitting its lowest level of growth since the 1946 post-war downturn.


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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a Ms. Fellow and former Editorial Intern. She recently graduated high school and is completing a gap year before attending Tufts University.