BY DEB CORNAVACA
It is deeply discouraging to see the Star Ledger editorial board play into the hands of the pervasive sexism they claim to want to address. The Sunday Star Ledger Editorial, “Don’t Stack the #Metoo Panel with Murphy Loyalists” which singled me out by name as an individual who should be excluded from Loretta Weinberg’s ad hoc committee, is an attempt to both diminish me to the role of an obedient woman as well as silence my voice and perspective. This disappointing example of journalism being used to enable the misogynistic culture of New Jersey politics cannot go unanswered.
The assertion of the Star Ledger editorial board that I am a ‘Murphy Loyalist’ and therefore unable to be an independent voice on the ad hoc committee is a pernicious example of journalists’ role in the patriarchy. Their presumption is that I could or would not speak my truth on that committee because I work for the Governor. Their position assumes obedience. I do not believe anyone who knows me would describe me as obedient.
And that is a great failure of the Editorial Board whose careless use of language tried to reduce me to the role they presumed I would play, rather than the independent, highly qualified person to serve on this committee that I am.
They have no evidence that I will be obedient – they assume it. They couch it in the soft term of loyalty so often used by misogynists.
Perhaps it is beyond the ability of this Editorial Board to even consider – but obedience has not been asked of me – either implicitly or explicitly.
If I am loyal, the loyalty is to my personal values.
Those who know me and my work are well aware of my commitment to addressing the toxic masculinity that dominates politics and my penchant for speaking truth to power. I have fought the often-blatant sexual discrimination and harassment I have experienced in my life and have been a supportive ally to others who choose to stand up. I will not be silenced by the Star Ledger editorial board or any other patriarchal system that attempts to silence me.
This issue matters to me personally and if I were called to serve on the committee, I would do my level best to change our toxic culture so that the next generation of young women won’t have to think twice before entering into public service.
Women in New Jersey politics do need allies. We also need our issues and voices amplified. But the Star Ledger editorial board, despite their pretense of concern for the integrity of the committee, did not even attempt to contact me before categorizing me this way.
Denying a woman her voice happens all too often in New Jersey politics. Shame on the editorial board for further denying us our voices while feigning to defend us.
Deborah Cornavaca is Deputy Chief of Staff of Outreach for the Administration of Governor Phil Murphy.