Riots and Rights: The Lessons of Stonewall in the Modern Day

By Niko Skaperdas

With the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Arburry, and George Floyd, protests have broken out calling for justice for the victims of police brutality, police reform, and tangible action to improve the lives and status of black Americans through policy and police reform. As Scholar Simon Hall states, “A model of patriotic dissent has emerged in which activists have sought to narrow the gap between America’s lofty promise of liberty and justice for all and the actual experience of oppressed peoples…” (Hall). Only this statement was aimed at the Gay Rights movement, originating from the mid-twentieth century, not the modern day Black Lives Matter movement. These communities were and continue to be exhausted from the mistreatment by law enforcement and the lack of tangible policy protecting them. Many similarities can be drawn between the Gay Rights movement and the modern day Black Lives Matter movement (Hall 2010). 

Americans have taken to the streets to protest the killings of George Floyd, Ahmed Arburry, Breonna Taylor, in a similar fashion to the protests held for Trayvon Martin in 2012 and Rodney King in 1992. Much like the 1992 protests, 2020 has seen the escalation to riots in major American cities. Frustrations and anger toward the police have boiled over as tear gas, rubber bullets, and the brutal militarization of law enforcement were sent at Americans utilizing the first amendment’s right to protest. Little support has come from the executive branch in Washington DC as Donald Trump tweeted out “…when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.  

What is often forgotten is the long history of rioting in America and its connection to civil rights (Daks 2020). 

From the Boston Tea Party to Stonewall itself, riots have historically been the catalyst for change in American social ideology. Stonewall has historically been credited with being the foundation of the gay rights movement but a deeper look into Stonewall reveals a striking similarity with the modern Black Lives Matter movement. These riots and/or protests both were not spurred by a singular event, they were a boiling over point for two highly marginalized communities who were consistently victims of oppressive legislation and police brutality (Martin Duberman).

Kevin Mumford in his article “Lessons of Stonewall Fifty Years Later” cites stonewall as an important, widely publicized moment in queer history, therefore it was more of a uniting moment in history. Mumford writes how stonewall expanded the idea of the queer community to encompass the entire nation, “More so than local activism or the proliferation of bars, I believe that this expanding queer public space continues to bind LGBT lives across the nation”. (Mumford 2019)

Scholars Martin Duberman and Andrew Kopkind see the riots at stonewall were a reaction to years of homophobic and transphobic policy that suffocated queer individuals, expressed in their 1993 randition of the event “The Night They Raided Stonewall”. They speak to how women were required to wear at least three articles of feminine clothing and how it was a crime to be caught intimately with a member of the same sex acccording to Section 887(7) of the New York Criminal Conduct Code. Stonewall existed in a network of underground queer spaces, pioneered by the ball scene of New York. On June 28, 1969 in the early morning when the police entered the bar and began arresting patrons for their gender expression, anger grew in the crowd. These patrons were forced to heels, were thrown from the queens in the paddy wagon, and a mob that was forming outside of the bar evolved into a riot. The police were forced inside of the bar as patrons began breaking glass and throwing molotov cocktails. The violence escalated from and stretched through the following five days until July 3, 1969 (Duberman 1993). 

The Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 are similar to the Stonewall riots in the fact that they are a response to decades of mistreatment by law enforcement. The movement grew as a new generation of black Americans and allies continued to witness mistreatment of the black community within police precincts. According to researcher Russel Rickford, the movement is technologically savvy and millennial based, tending to vote democratic in local and federal elections. 2020 sees the movement to be more aggressive and widespread than previously, as protests spread across major American cities, several of which turning to riots. Like Stonewall, these protests and riots represent the point of frustration the black community has been forced to, with peaceful means not working to create lasting policy and reform (Rickford 2017).

George Floyd, who has become the face of the movement after his murder was filmed in May of 2020, was not the sole reason for these protests and riots. He, along with Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Arburry, Trayvon Martin, and Rodney King were victims of a system that disproportionately harms black Americans. Their murders were the catalyst, the point of exhaustion that could no longer be tolerated by the black community (Berman 2020). 

Stonewall did not become a riot because queer people were kicked out of their favorite bar. Stonewall became a riot due to years of mistreatment of the queer community by law enforcement. Squad cars in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, and Minneapolis are not burning because of the death of one man. Squad cars are burning because, sadly, George Floyd is one name on a list of one thousand unarmed black americans killed by the police every year, according to the Washington Post. Reports from CNN tell of police attacking peaceful protesters, inciting riots. The social contract has been broken in the eyes of scholar Russel Rickford, as the police are not seen as public servants and protectors, but as antagonistic enforcers (Macaya 2020). 

Riots may be disturbing. Looting of department stores may be disturbing. But merchandise can be replaced by the large corporations who sell them. A human life can never be replaced. Violence is never and never was the intention of any protest, whether for gay rights or Black Lives Matter. Violence comes as a response to years of mistreatment. Stonewall is seen as a heroic moment in queer history but at the time was seen as a violent, disproportionate response. History has shown that in the moment, riots are terrifying to those outside of the marginalized community, but are remembered as landmark moments of progress in the American Consciousness. Only time will tell how Black Lives Matter is remembered but it exists in the “Great American Tradition” of riots against an oppressive system. 

Learning from Black Trans Leaders

By Tiffany Jeong

In this article, I want to challenge our readers to pursue a deeper understanding of queer bodies of color who have been omitted from the narrative and excluded from the notions of progress for the LGBT+ community. In 2020, drag icons like RuPaul can achieve a net worth of $60million. However, before ascending to mainstream appeal, this multimillion-dollar industry had a long history of marginalization and criminalization. Until this year, William Dorsey Swann was a name unbeknownst to queer academia; but his legacy to the LGBT+ community is indisputable. Swann was the first, “queen of drag.” He was born a slave around 1858 in Maryland; and while he saw the end of the Civil War and the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, his life is a testament that systemic oppression of black bodies was far from over. Being a former slave, compounded with being queer, made William Dorsey Swann the target of police surveillance, public scorn, and violence. Following the first police raids of Swann’s dances in the 1880’s, the queen of drag and her guests entered the court of public opinion and were labeled: freaks, colored erotopaths, and a lecherous gang of sexual perverts. 

In the opening lines of “Paris is Burning,” we are reminded that the oppression experienced by Swann was still a reality for queens of color over a century later in 1990:

“You have three strikes against you in this world. Every black man has two-that they’re just black and that they are male. But you’re black, and you’re male, and you’re gay. You are going to have a hard fucking time.” (Freddie Pendavis, 1990).

These later iterations of Swann’s drag ball culture have heavily influenced the palatable pageantry displayed in RuPaul’s Drag Race; but it would be remiss to ignore their tumultuous origins and their less agreeable counterparts. To indulge in queer culture without recognizing issues of homelessness, race, prostitution, and police violence is superficial.

Less than a century after William Dorsey Swann’s first acts of queer resistance, the Stonewall Riots in 1969 inspired queer people to demand liberation. A central figure to the events at Stonewall was Marsha P. Johnson. The exact details of her involvement that night have been mythologized and disputed, yet there is a consensus that Marsha was a fixture on Christopher St. where she advocated for protections of LGBT+ bodies affected by homelessness and racism. Similar to William Dorsey Swann, Marsha had witnessed a liberation for black Americans. She is famously quoted as saying, “I got my civil rights!” then throwing a shot glass against a Stonewall mirror. The simple fact that we celebrate Pride each year at the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots is a testament to the impacts of daring to be black, trans, and rebellious.

While Marsha P. Johnson would undoubtedly smile at the progress that has been achieved on the gay liberation front, she would be disappointed at its incompletion. Her work with Sylvia Rivera as the mothers of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) called for the support of homeless queer youth and sex workers. Still, in 2019, at least 27 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were killed because of fatal violence, the majority of which were black trans women (Human Rights Campaign, 2020). LGBT+ liberation demands more than just symbolic gestures, it demands that the most vulnerable queer bodies be seen. 

Marsha’s friends tell stories of when she used to stand on the street corner asking a passerby for a dollar only to turn around and give it to someone else in need. Even though she was homeless for extended periods of time, relied on sex work for an unstable income, and didn’t have money to fashion herself in glamorous drag attire, Marsha would happily hand her last two dollars to a friend. 

Despite being born in shackles or of little consequence to the white majority, Swann and Marsha advocated for their community. In the context of our mission in Eye2Eye, Swann, and Marsha’s actions are a reminder that the barriers for gender parity in the workplace are more complex than a glass ceiling. The reality is, not all glass ceilings reach the same height and upward velocities are not equal. The intersectionality we advocate for encourages readers to consider their current position in society relative to all other bodies. Rather than just looking up at our white male counterparts, we need to look around for others who we can help advance.

The Motherhood Penalty: Why Women are Less Likely to Get the Job

By Sara Demoranville

Imagine having the perfect resume for a competitive job opportunity. You have amazing credentials, the necessary skills, and fit the ideal description of the new hiree. Everything is in place and you feel confident about getting the job, except that someone else essentially has the same resume as you. The decision narrows down to you and him, and sure enough, he gets the job. Why? Because he is a man, and you are a woman.

Unfortunately, this is the sad reality of much of the workforce. According to a recent study, men are three times more likely to get the job than women when considered under the exact same circumstance. Researchers claim that this is often due to the “motherhood penalty”, a pre-notion that women will leave the workforce to become a stay at home mother.

Is it fair to make this assumption? Is it fair to base a decision on the unknown future and simply one’s ability to give birth?

The fact of the matter is that it’s wrong to assume anything based on gender, and the stigma that women will drop everything to become a stay at home mother is simply outdated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of stay at home mothers has seen an overall decline from 49% in 1967 to 29% in 2012. While many women continue to become mothers, today’s society has made it more than possible to balance work life and motherhood.

It is also important to note that not all women even become mothers; and if they do, not all become stay at home mothers. What about the fathers? Studies show that society has seen an overall increase in stay at home fathers, but you don’t see them getting a “fatherhood penalty”. This leaves us with one question: is it really motherhood that is causing employer hesitation or is it womanhood and its corresponding stereotypes?

Imagine you’re applying for that same job, only this time there is no indication of whether or not you are a woman. Just by excluding the gender factor, you are three times more likely to have an equal chance at getting the job over the man who is applying against you. You still may not get the job, but at the end of the day it will be about the person, not the gender.

Motherhood Penalty: Legislation and Science

By Tiffany Jeong

In the 20th century after the suffragettes had met their goals, many women left the Feminist movement with the feeling that they had achieved equality. However, on the social front, women have yet to overcome the essentialist mentality that females are inherently less suited for professional careers than men.

A recent survey conducted by Gallup evaluated whether people of both genders believed women should be part of the paid workforce. In North America, 71% of males and 76% of females concur that women should be part of the paid workforce and the majority further agrees that women should also be able to participate in domestic life. This study reveals how acknowledging the Motherhood Penalty is desired by both men and women. If we aim to address gender inequality in the workplace, it is vital that we cultivate a professional environment that doesn’t force women to compromise between career and family.

One essential difference between men and women is the female’s role to deliver and nurture the child. Women have attempted to remedy the stunted growth of female career development by proposing legislation for paid maternity leave; but a principle that is less commonly discussed is paternity leave. Right now, the Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees twelve unpaid weeks of paternity leave. However, only a handful of states have enacted paid paternity leave. Part of having women achieve equality in the workplace, is changing the way society and employment views childcare. Rather than having the responsibility fall solely on the woman, by enacting paid paternity leave policies, more egalitarian gender norms will emerge.

Furthermore, I would like to address the Motherhood Penalty with scientific advances. Although healthcare and sexual education have made significant progress in teaching women about birth control, these contraceptive strategies do not slow the biological clock. A second essential difference between men and women, is the ability for males to delay paternity. However, women aren’t free to have children at any point in their career, as they understand the viability of eggs diminishes overtime. This can affect female ambitions by constricting career options to those that permit breaks for family. I would urge women to explore options for Fertility Preservation, and for businesses and the government to improve standards in women’s health coverage. The harvesting of eggs has an initial cost of about $10,000 and an annual storage cost of $500. This is a heavy initial financial burden for a young woman, but it can save money for later, less effective, fertility treatments in the future and evens the biological inequalities between men and women.

Science and legislation have already offered solutions for the Motherhood Penalty. Society must decide how highly they value gender equality. By guaranteeing both paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as making Fertility Preservation more accessible to women, we can find the balance between professional and parental equality.  

The Bright Future of Women in Finance

By Karen Rodriguez

Last March 8th, during International Women’s Day, a statue of a girl defiantly standing in front of the iconic bull statue in Wall street sparked conversation regarding the huge misrepresentation of women in certain fields like finance.

This statue was part of a campaign ignited by State Street, an asset management firm that manages around 11% of the world’s assets, that seeks to get more women in corporate boards. This action was followed up with a letter directed to all of the companies that comprised the Russell 3000 index, persuading them to take action and add women to their boards.

It is a fact that women are clearly underrepresented in this industry, a Morningstar study showed that “Less than 10% of all U.S. fund managers are women; women exclusively run about 2% of the industry’s assets and open-end funds. By contrast, men exclusively run about 74% of the industry’s assets and 78% of funds, with mixed-gender teams accounting for the balance.” This phenomenon is true not only in senior levels, but all across the industry. According to a Harvard Business Review research, in other specific areas in finance like private equity, venture capital, and real estate women make up only 17 percent to 23 percent of all employees.

So, there is clearly a ratio that shows the reluctance of this industry to welcome women, but is it fundamentally an issue? Is there anything else, besides the strong misogynist underlying of the industry, and a politically incorrect dynamic that is detrimental to anyone? Well, actually there is. In an industry where for obvious reasons, there is a strong focus on the ultimate bottom line – profits-, financial performance is being affected by this dynamic that we see as inherent to the industry. Various studies led by firms like McKinsey & Co. and Catalyst, show that, in general, the increase in number of women in boards is associated with better financial performance. Not only this shows the need to pursue a benefit, but also various studies show that men’s wrongdoings in this industry are proportionally way more frequent and catastrophic that women’s.  A research lead by Stanford University and the University of Chicago studied the cause and impact of misconduct in financial services. Males are three times more likely than women to engage in risky investments, negligence, and fraud. These misconducts are not only more frequent but in a higher degree; male errors are 30% more expensive for firms. The median of male errors being $40,000, and for female errors being $31,000.

Some studies, like the one led by Goldman Sachs, suggests that this a physiological consequence since higher levels of testosterone is correlated with more frequent trading, increasing the risk of losses.

Now, if having a more reasonable ratio of women is not only fair and logical, but also beneficial; why is there still such a huge gap between a woman’s potential in this industry and that of a man? The roots of this issue could reside in the origins and nature of the industry itself, it has always been a predominantly male industry in which a factor for people’s success is the degree of comradery and their connections. As we know from social psychology, the similarity/attraction bias explains how we are inherently attracted to favor those who are similar to us, which could have led men to perpetuate this bias towards women

Moving forward from the origins of this dynamic, the importance of discussing this topic is to create a response and consciously change biases in order to benefit society and the industry. State Street in not the only firm calling for change, a myriad of other firms worldwide echoed these concerns and have stepped up. Some of them are BBVA Spanish financial services company, with their maternity initiatives – of the women 2,273 that went on maternity leave in 2012, 100% came back to their same jobs-. Also, in 2008 Calver Investments launched a Gender Equality Principles (GEP) campaign that provides resources for companies to guide them step by step in the implementation of processes that promote gender equality in their policies, practices, and culture. And other companies such as Pax Investments have even directly leverage from these findings. They created the Pax Global Women’s Leadership Index in which investors can invest in companies where there are tangible actions towards gender equality. They have also sent letters to the SEC urging them to request companies to disclose gender-related information such as pay equity data.  

This is certainly a movement that is shaping the financial services industry, directing it to a more egalitarian future in which everyone can benefit from equality, fairness, and diversity. All the aforementioned actions are inspiring and show a great response from firms that feel the social obligation to shape societies and improving their own performance along the way. There is so much more to do and high expectations to meet. For instance, some other organizations like 20/20 WOB expect that by 2020 women make up of at least 20% of directors in boards. Others more ambitious like Girls Who Invest, are aiming for 30% of the world’s investable capital to be managed by women by 2030. Whether we get there by that time, or even exceed these expectations is up to everyone who can make a difference; meaning, anyone.

The Pay Gap in Sports

By Alanna McDonough-Rice

In sports it is known that men’s sports make far more money than women’s sports. Since the beginning of time, players have fought to get better wages and better deals, but people have been putting women’s sports on the back burner for years. They think it won’t make money or have a fan base, but these sports have the same size fan base as men’s sports.

People consider women’s sports less lucrative, even though the WNBA is doing better than the NBA did at the same point in time. 20 years into the WNBA, there are 7,500 people in attendance at games, which is better than 20 years into the NBA. Women’s sports are a “viable business” yet it is not viewed as one. In tennis Roger Federer makes 700 thousand while Serena Williams makes 450 thousand. There is no valid reason why Williams makes about 68 cents on the dollar for playing the same game and having the same level of popularity.

Women need to stand up for equal and better pay. Billie Jean King commented on the pay gap and Ban deodorant offered equal pay. It took a long time for others to follow, but when women stand up to the advertisers and employers- they will get better pay. Players like Jazmine Reeves have “breakout years” in soccer or their respective sport, yet they can’t live off of their salary. Reeves could have had the opportunity to go to a national team camp, but instead she quit and took a job at Amazon. Women have better pay in tech, even though STEM fields have been male dominated since the beginning, than in women’s sports.

While FIFA is a “profoundly sexist” organization with their pay rate being 30-1 men to women, women are starting to speak up. The women’s national soccer team is suing U.S. Soccer for equal, if not more, pay since they are generating more money than the men’s team. Women’s sports are proven to be lucrative and powerful. There is truly no reason to pay them less, except sexist, misogynistic excuses.

Hopefully the women’s soccer team sets a precedent like Billie Jean King and women’s sports will start receiving equal pay for all their hard work. The fans of each and every female sport would be saddened to know that the wages their favorite player is receiving is barely enough to cover their lifestyle. With strong women, a strong fan base, and continued support and drive, women will receive the wages they deserve. One day the gap will close, but only with empowered women who will not settle for less.

Female Quality and Quantity Stagnant at Universities

By Nelly Nguyen

There have been numerous studies done on gender equality across industries and countries; however, there aren’t many that focus on education, especially among universities.

There is one that stands out in this category – “The Glass Door Remains Closed: Another Look at Gender Inequality in Undergraduate Business Schools” by Laura Marini Davis and Victoria Geyfman. The authors examined female representation in undergraduate business schools by analyzing accredited U.S. business programs in the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) from 2003 to 2011.

According to AACSB data, the number of male students enrolled increased approximately 15% from 2010 to 2013 while the number of female students fell slightly by 0.55%. The data also shows that female representation at accredited member institutions in AACSB in the United States declined 3.6% from 2003 to 2011. The authors also took a look at the degree attainment and noticed that even though the number of bachelor business degrees increased by 9% during 2003 to 2011, the number of degrees awarded to female students remained virtually the same, increasing only 0.21%. Thus, the  authors concluded that female representation in undergraduate business schools measured by either enrollment or degrees awarded has declined in the last decade –remarkable findings in light of a nationally reported reversal in the gender gap.

Some other interesting findings are:

  • Economic incentives heavily influence female students’ decision to enroll in a particular university or major
  • In the classroom setting, the study shows that women were more vulnerable to interruptions and were generally uncomfortable competing against men. Therefore, they tend to under participate.  On the other hand, the presence of female instructors had a positive effect on female students’ participation in classroom discussions. As a result, female-friendly institutional factors play a role in female representation at undergraduate business schools.

1 Davis, Laura Marini, and Victoria Geyfman. “The Glass Door Remains Closed: Another Look at Gender Inequality in Undergraduate Business Schools.” Journal of Education for Business 90, no. 2 (2014): 81-88. doi:10.1080/08832323.2014.980715.

Looking Through the Glass: A Modern Perspective on the Glass Ceiling

By Ashley Daniel

We are fortunate enough to live in a time where “You can be anything you want to be!” is a prominent statement in nearly every child’s life. However, an overwhelming number of statistics accompanied by a series of public events this year have us all questioning that statement more than ever. Can I be anything I want to be? Are there limits to my success? After consulting a number of articles, I have decided to dive deeper into this idea of The Glass Ceiling.

The U.S. Department of Labor defines the glass ceiling as “those artificial barriers based on attitudinal or organizational bias that prevent qualified individuals from advancing upward in their organization into management-level positions.”1 The glass ceiling has kept women and minorities from attaining well-deserved promotions and pay raises for years…but does it still exist in our forward-thinking, 2016 society?

While I personally find the arguments against the glass ceiling incredibly weak, I must acknowledge them. There are no laws in this country that prevent women from getting the same educational opportunities as men, so in that sense, yes there is equality. But to argue this point,  there are studies proving that even with that equivalent education, men are more likely to get the same job over women. And to the point that “women’s job choices keep them off of the executive track”2 …I don’t buy it. No male, female, minority, etc. is spending upwards of a quarter of a million dollars at a top university to hold a middle level management position his or her entire life.

For those of you doubting the authenticity of the glass ceiling, the numbers simply don’t lie. While Ivy League schools across the nation have nearly a 1:1 gender ratio, that equality is not reflected in the corporate world. At the start of the new year, there were only 21 female CEOs representing Fortune 500 companies— an astonishing 4%. If that number isn’t shocking enough, the current growth rate projects that we will add just one more powerful woman to that list every two years.3

Understanding the glass ceiling is important not only for feminists and equal rights activists, but also because statistically gender diversity actually works. Women are half of the consumer population, so why should women not be half of the decision makers? A 2015 study by McKinsey Global Institute found that “advancing women’s equality [in the workplace] could add $12 trillion to global economic growth in a decade.”4 But women can’t be CEOs because they don’t have the masculinity required to be a respected leader? Because only a man has the presence to demand attention during an important pitch? A demanding man is seen as authoritative, but a demanding woman is often referred to as “bossy”. The stereotypes are endless but the truth is- there is no doubting that a boardroom can benefit from the diverse experiences and attitudes of a balanced gender ratio.

The necessary proposal of that question says it all. In the words of Hillary Clinton, “Now I know we have still not shattered the highest and toughest glass ceiling, but someday someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.”5

1 Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Glass Ceiling: An Invisible Barrier to Success.” Education. August 31, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2016.

2 Lewis, Jone Johnson. “Glass Ceiling: An Invisible Barrier to Success.” Education. August 31, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2016.

3 Bellstrom, Kristen. “Why 2015 Was A Terrible Year to Be a Female Fortune 500 CEO.” Fortune. December 23, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2016.

4 Sethi, Rekha. “Why Gender Diversity Is a Business Imperative.” Business News. October 9, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2016.

5 “Hillary Clinton’s Concession Speech.” CNN. November 9, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2016.