Magazine article Variety

Best Way to Speed Up Government Reform: Run

Magazine article Variety

Best Way to Speed Up Government Reform: Run

Article excerpt

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND refuses to be intimidated after finding herself on the receiving end of a presidential tweet storm.

The junior senator from New York has been a persistent critic of Donald Trump, calling on him to resign in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations. That has raised the ire of a certain Oval Office occupant, who hit back, dismissing her as a "lightweight" and implying she would "do anything" for campaign contributions.

"Initially, I ignored it," Gillibrand says. "But I decided it needed to be responded to. I said it was a sexist smear. He's failed to embarrass me, and he's failed to silence the millions of women who have come out against him." ->

It may be the opening salvo in a fiercer battle between Trump and Gillibrand. The Democratic lawmaker is widely viewed as a potential presidential candidate in 2020. In an interview with Variety, Gillibrand said she's focused on her current job, but expressed optimism that Trump's election is inspiring grassroots resistance and a greater focus on women's rights.

Why do you think the Time's Up and #MeToo movements have captured national attention?

It started with the election of President Trump. Right after the election we had the largest women's march in the history of the United States. Millions of men and women and children all over the globe marched to be heard, and they marched for all sorts of reasons - for reproductive freedom, for Black Lives Matter. They marched for clean air and clear water; they marched for LGBT equality. They wanted the issues that they cared about to be elevated because they disagreed with President Trump. That activism hasn't stopped. #MeToo became a vibrant movement in this climate. Once some women started talking about how they were raped and assaulted and harassed, it created the possibility for more women to come out. The courage of some inspired the courage of many.

What was it about Trump's election that motivated people to speak out?

His language is often misogynistic, and he has over a dozen credible allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against him. There's been no justice, no hearings. That angers people.

Where do you hope the Time's Up and #MeToo movements go from here?

What's needed is structural reform. Our work isn't done until we protect women who work for non-famous bosses and for lower wages, who can't come forward and name their harasser because they fear losing their job.

I'm working to end forced arbitration clauses. When you sign one of those clauses, if you are sexually harassed or assaulted at work, you've given up your constitutional right to a jury trial. …

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