KIM IZZARELLI: Silence Speaks Volumes
Gender and generational conflicts within the Assembly
Are Galef and Paulin advocates for women or wallflowers?
September 6, 2012 - Assembly Candidate Kim Izzarelli remembers a time when "put up and shut up" was the norm in the workplace for women.
After qualifying for a sales conference back in 1990, she recalls walking into a cocktail reception to honor sales achievement and finding her male co-workers watching porn on a lounge television. "They continued to watch, as if I wasn't even in the room" she said, "and when I reported the inappropriate behavior to a female manager back at the office, I was told to "Put up and shut up. That's the way it is." she said.
Izzarelli, 51, remains mystified that so little has changed in 22 years, particularly among those who are entrusted to create laws to protect women.
"Here, you have Sandy Galef, a 20 year member of the Assembly, basically maintaining her silence and essentially defending the inexcusable behavior of her fellow male counterparts, Vito Lopez and Speaker Sheldon Silver." says Izzarelli. "It's generational. It is likely that Galef is uncomfortable calling out men on issues of sexual conduct and cover-up because she's been there for so long. She may actually believe that's the way it is."
If Mrs. Galef, at 72, believes preserving the leadership is more important than removing the cancer that has disgraced our legislature, rationalize the silence of Amy Paulin, a middle-aged assemblywoman, best known for sponsoring a significant number of bills protecting women. Paulin was oddly reticent this week and did not ask for the removal of both men from the assembly.
"I would ask our assemblywomen: Are you really advocates for women or wallflowers?"
Sexual Harassment demeans its victims and destroys their ability to pursue livelihood without fear of continued harassment. Galef should be asking the difficult questions on behalf of all women and all New Yorkers. Questions like these should be asked in a public forum in order to hold public servants accountable. Assemblywoman Galef has not agreed to any debates except as late as October 29th, only nine days before Election Day.
Kim Izzarelli is a single mother of two who spent fifteen years in the private financial sector.