There’s a giant rat on the streets of New York. No, not the one living in the Coke can between the A train tracks. Or the one raising a family under your bed. This one’s 12 feet tall and parked outside Anthony Weiner’s apartment on Park Avenue South. Over the weekend, union activists set the rat up to call attention to Weiner’s plan to get rid of the parent coordinator position at city schools, a position created by Bloomberg to help parents of students organize.
Though it’s one of Weiner’s more esoteric promises made from the stump, activists have still been able stir up the specter of Weiner’s, ahem, image problem with women. Why? The majority of the 1,400 parent coordinators in the city are women, which means eliminating the position has hit not just one but two of his campaign’s soft spots: the rights of union workers and his perceived antipathy toward women.
Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union, told the Daily News that “we use the rat to protest anyone who’s anti-union and anti-woman, and Weiner is certainly both of those things.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here: When activists accuse Weiner of being “anti-woman” because of his tweeted nudies, do they really just mean “asshole”? Don’t get me wrong, calling out misogyny is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon, but his sin here seems less about not caring for the plight of women and more about a myopic understanding of the priorities of public education. The two issues are certainly entangled, but activists’ outrage might be falling down the very deep–and in all likelihood, pointless–rabbit hole of pinning the campaign to Weiner’s past sexual transgressions.
When that inevitable sexting epidemic breaks out in city middle schools, and there are no parent coordinators to organize a response, activists should hope Weiner sees the irony.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 15, 2013