Like a lot of Americans -- women and men -- I woke up yesterday morning surprised and disillusioned by the news of the dismissal of all criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault against a hotel maid last May.
Before I could even absorb the story, the screaming had already begun, as each side in this awful affair blasted the other with anger and recrimination.
But all I could think of was that picture I saw in the paper last spring of that proud army of hotel maids in their grey uniforms -- their fists in the air and fire in their eyes -- gathered outside the courthouse where Strauss-Kahn was being arraigned, to at last make their voices heard.
I hope these women know that, although this case has been dismissed, their outrage, their sense of justice, and their long repressed fury has not been dismissed. Not by a long shot. And not by a lot of us. The siren these women sounded cannot be silenced. And that fire in their souls cannot be extinguished -- but it can be stoked by their new awareness that they, indeed, can and will be heard.
Let every hotel guest who thinks about dropping his pants along with his decency know that these women are no longer going to cower in fear for their jobs. Those days are over. In this new day, this ever growing army of women will be sharing notes and collecting evidence so that we may witness a critical mass of reported offenses. There is no turning back now -- back to a time when their dignity was held as valuable as the trash they carried out of those shameful rooms.
The bravery of these women represents the end of silence, not just for hotel workers, but for all working women -- from boardrooms to showrooms to storerooms
Yes, the news this week was discouraging. But the real case is far from closed.