Ahlin: Mary Contrary, Harry and Meghan, and Matt Lauer
After the usual Thanksgiving excess, I thought leftovers would last a week. But they didn't, and I headed to the grocery store for a quick stop. No such luck. Right by the door with an American flag pinned to her parka, a Union Jack stocking cap on her head, and a sign in her hands reading "Love Wins" was Mary Contrary.
"Hey, Sunshine, want to sign my card congratulating Harry and Meghan?" I suppose I sighed, because she added, "You do know Prince Harry is going to marry an American named Meghan Markle?"
"Of course, Mary, but I can't see the point of a card."
"Oh, oh, sounds like somebody's a wee bit cranky."
"I'm not cranky, but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle getting engaged doesn't exactly affect me."
Sorry, Sunshine. You're definitely cranky. Come on, what happened to your spirit of romance? Aren't you the one who's been married to the same guy since 8-track tapes were a hot item?"
"Okay, Mary, that's enough." I paused. "I'm not really down on romance, but I guess I'm so appalled at men in media who turned out to be horrible sexual predators that I've had a hard time pushing the icky stuff out of my mind to enjoy something happy in the news."
"Can't argue with that, Sunshine." Mary grinned. "Personally, I'm on board with a writer named Emma Gray."
"I don't think I've heard of her."
"Well, me either, but with the creepy stuff about Matt Lauer and so many other media hot shots, I saw where she said something pretty smart." Mary's eyes narrowed. "By the way, she didn't even mention the Fox News jerks, Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly. She stuck to mainstream media guys exposed as sexual harassers—Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Hamilton Fish, Michael Oreskes, Matt Zimmerman, Glenn Thrush, Leon Wieselter—and then she said,
"[C]onsider what stories might have been told had women been in their places."
"Why, Mary, that is the crux of it. The lack of women in top decision-making jobs whether the media outlets are local or national is sad reality. "
"Bingo, Sunshine. Truth is, a whole lot of guys who are decent as the day is long, don't call out other guys when they say sexist or gross stuff or ogle a young employee. It takes women—correction, make that women with authority, and I mean from the ranks to the board room—or the jerks prevail."
"That's absolutely right. Men have to realize if they aren't promoting capable women and if they aren't speaking up, they're giving a green light to bad behavior. "
Oddly, I felt better. "I'll sign your card, Mary. Heaven knows a biracial American divorcee marrying into the British royal family is big, happy news."
"You got that right, Sunshine." As I headed into the store I heard Mary holler, "From where I'm standing it looks like your next stop should be the gym."
Ahlin writes a Sunday column for The Forum. Email firstname.lastname@example.org