In a new podcast, titled “The Dream Was Not Mine,” on The United States of Anxiety, produced by WNYC studios, Amanda Aronczyk and Nancy Solomon explore how midterm elections could be affected by the rise of women pushing back against sexual and domestic abuse in politics and in the White House.
“This election cannot be separated from the #MeToo movement that has erupted over the past year,” said host Kai Wright.
“We have to consider the private, personal way male power has operated in lives of thousands of women and what it means for women not challenge that power.”
Jennifer Willoughby, Rob Porter’s ex wife (who was the former White House Staff Secretary) challenged that power when she spoke out against her husband’s physical, mental and emotional abuse.
“I wanted the white, middle-class life… until I didn’t. The marriage was a mess,” Willoughby described in the podcast. According to Willoughby, the only way to survive, and not commit suicide, was to leave the abusive marriage. And in 2013, she did.
When the FBI was combing through Porter’s file during a background check, they reached out to Willoughby and she told them, in detail, about the domestic violence in her marriage. Shortly afterwards, the media got hold of the story, and Porter’s abuse became public.
However, not many in the White House believed the allegations, and actively rejected Willoughby’s claim.
The White House demonstrated they didn’t care, said Wright. They called Rob Porter a man of dignity and honor.
But Willoughby stood her ground and rejected a man’s assertion of power in her life, Wright continued.
“She began to question the very nature of power and privilege. She realized truly challenging power means re imagining it all together,” the podcast said.
Now, women have developed a different idea about what they want from our democracy and how they can get it, according to the podcast.
A record number of women running for office, including Stacey Abrams, an African-American woman running for governor in Georgia, and Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman running for governor in Vermont, the podcast noted.
“Many of them are women who looked up after 2016 election and said something has got to change.”
A full copy of the show can be found here.
Amanda Aronczyk of WNYC public radio in New York is a 2018 John Jay Justice Reporting Fellow. This podcast was produced for her domestic violence reporting fellowship project.