The former New York mayor was responding to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s demand that Bloomberg release women who had sued his company from the non-disclosure agreements they signed to settle the cases. Bloomberg replied, with an air of exasperation, that his people had already reviewed the landscape of gender discrimination complaints, identified three relevant matters and lifted the restrictions in those.
What more, Bloomberg seemed to be asking, could this bothersome woman want? Any number of women watching at home could have given him the answer: You have no clue what “enough” would look like. But, for starters, treating us like nagging harridans when we ask for a bare minimum of respect is no way to win our votes.
“Enough” isn’t belatedly ending the use of non-disclosure agreements at your company after other large firms have taken the same step, and a number of states have moved to limit the use of such agreements to silence victims of harassment and sexual violence.
“Enough” isn’t using that change to congratulate yourself, as Bloomberg did at the debate, that “we’ve probably made the world better because of it. … We probably changed, hopefully, the corporate landscape all across America.”
Ironically, Bloomberg, or at least someone on his staff, appears to understand what enough might look like when it comes to actual policies relating to women. He’s running on a lot of them. Enough would be pay equity and a national paid parental leave mandate that at least places the United States on par with other economically developed countries. Enough would be a massive mobilization to bring down America’s disturbingly high maternal death rate, particularly among black women.
Enough would be a child-care system that ensures both that families can afford high-quality care and that the workers, mostly women, who provide that care are paid and treated fairly. Enough would be justice for the trans women being murdered across the United States, and changes in culture and law enforcement to ensure they are the last martyrs to anti-trans bigotry.
But here’s the thing that Bloomberg doesn’t seem to get: You need culture to reinforce policy, in a political campaign as well as in a workplace. You don’t deserve much credit if you establish policies that reflect certain values, but repeatedly behave in a way that conveys your disdain for those values.
And for decades, Bloomberg has behaved in ways that make the positions on his campaign website look like flags of convenience. If you refer to a transgender woman as “some guy wearing a dress,” that speaks louder than a boilerplate sentence on a campaign website. If you demanded oral sex from a woman as part of a contract negotiation, even jokingly, you’ll have to forgive us if we think that all your talk about pay equity is just stage magic to hide your boorishness.
And, if in the middle of a cultural reckoning with how we treat women who come forward to say they have been mistreated at work, you continue to dismiss such women, then we have to ask whether we should believe that you have changed. There was Bloomberg at last week’s debate tossing aside the complaints against him, saying, “None of them accused me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told.” There was Bloomberg’s longtime companion, Diana Taylor, on the campaign trail, announcing that anyone who felt harassed by Bloomberg needs to “get over it.”
And there was Bloomberg Tuesday night — condescending not only to Warren but to Sekiko Sakai Garrison, who has asserted that Bloomberg, upon learning that she was pregnant, asked her, “Are you going to kill it?” Bloomberg depicted Garrison as a liar or a fantasist, summarily demanding that the audience credit his word over hers. “Never said it. Period. End of story,” Bloomberg said. “I’m sorry if she heard what she thought she heard or whatever happened. … Come on.” Never mind that a witness — a man, actually — recently confirmed Garrison’s account to The Post.
The standard for “enough” is not being slightly better than President Trump. It’s not gesturing at politically convenient policies when it comes to women while demonstrating over and over how little you actually respect them.
With this candidate, for this woman, enough is enough.