August 03, 2018

This week on To The Contrary with Bonnie Erbe, our panelists discuss white women voters, the lack of progress for diversity in Hollywood, and Jane Fonda’s support for the EMPOWER Act

On the panel this week joining host Bonnie Erbe is: Anushay Hossain, Founder, Anushay’s Point; Debra Carnahan, Former Judge and Federal Prosecutor; Patrice Lee Onwuka, Senior Policy Analyst at Independent Women’s Voices; and Rina Shah, Republican Strategist.

Click read more to see what they had to say!

White Women & GOP

Are white, college educated, female voters souring on the GOP?

  • Debra Carnahan: “I have a lot of [Democratic] friends that are running, and their strategy for getting this demographic of women is to talk with them with respect, to point out the problems that have arisen with this administration, stripping women of their reproductive rights, the attitude toward women, equal pay, all the issues they care about that are not being addressed. They’re speaking to that.”

  • Anushay Hossain: “White, college educated women have gotten a real reality check. Aren’t they the reason that Trump is in office? Didn’t the majority of these women vote for Trump? So I think now, it’s really difficult for them to ignore the fact that there’s a misogynist and a self-admitted sexual assaulter in the oval office. And of course his views on women are going to affect his legislation.”

  • Bonnie Erbe: “For 40 or 50 years now, there has been a separation of 10 to 20 points between the way women vote, leaning Democratic, and the way men vote, leaning Republican.”

  • Rina Shah: “The problem we’ll see moving into the midterms, and even into 2020, is that Democrats paint women as a monolith, and they assume the women’s vote is a liberal monolith. And truly, when you look back at 2016, Trump female voters had more in common with white, male Trump voters [than with Democratic-voting women].”

  • Patrice Lee Onwuka: “At the Independent Women’s Voice, we did a poll and asked, what’s most important. Number one, gender was not a determining factor for how women vote, for how Republican women vote, and for how most Democratic women vote as well. Number two, all issues are women’s issues, and that’s what a majority said.”


Diversity in Film

Little progress despite many campaigns to make Hollywood more diverse

  • Rina Shah: “The people at the top really don’t subscribe to diversity. That’s been the talk for a long time, but when we see movements try to elicit change and fail, take Les Moonves for example, we know that there isn’t real change happening, and until those people move on from those roles, we won’t see pilots with two brown women, such as Serena and Mel, two Asian American actresses I know who are shopping around a pilot, and having the door closed on them, even though their pilot has received over a quarter of a million views online, not just in the US but abroad. They’re being told they’re too niche.”

  • Anushay Hossain: “The issue with Hollywood is they feel like one hashtag is enough or one ‘year of the woman’ is enough. They don’t understand that we are the majority of the market, and we want to see ourselves reflected in our films.”

  • Bonnie Erbe: “Hillary Clinton has a deal to do a story with Steven Spielberg...but she is the rare woman who has access to people like that.”

  • Patrice Lee Onwuka: “Thank goodness TV is beating Hollywood, because frankly people have tuned out Hollywood. If you’re tired of seeing just one type of script, one type of storyline with just one type of person imagined for every character, then you’re going to be drawn to Netflix, Amazon Prime, to all these other sources.”

  • Debra Carnahan: “Is this a chicken or an egg thing? We want more diversity in Hollywood, but if we continue to watch these films, if we continue to give them box office dollars, then why does Hollywood have any reason to give us anything different?”

EMPOWER Act

Jane Fonda was in DC to rally support for protections for women working in low-wage jobs

  • Debra Carnahan: “Remember when the MeToo movement came out and everyone said, yeah, okay, privileged people are able to speak out and say this. Not that it’s not hard, but they can say it much more easily than someone working in the fields. And they won’t have the celebrity wow factor.”

  • Rina Shah: “I just want to tip my hat to my friend, Monica Ramirez, of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. She was one of the authors of the ‘Dear Sisters’ letter last fall. She is a daughter of immigrants, like me, and I have, in getting to know her, realized how different her experience was as the daughter of migrant workers, and how she’s standing up for women in these low-paying jobs...I think it is trickling down because of activists like her and their partnering with celebrity.”

  • Bonnie Erbe: “Is this the synergy that is needed to get the MeToo movement to trickle down to the women in the worst situations, who don’t have a voice?”

  • Anushay Hossain: “I was born and raised in Bangladesh. When you have a starvation rate of over 50%, everyone in your house has to work, because it’s about starvation, survival, and death.”

  • Patrice Lee Onwuka: “I think there are some interesting ideas in that act. But I don’t think when it comes to things like nondisclosure agreements and disclosing sexual misconduct, sometimes those clauses are there to protect victims and their identities. So when we take a broad-brush approach to federal legislation, there are some unintended consequences that should probably be better dealt with at the state level.”

Be sure to tune in this week for more discussion! Click here to check your local listings.