Helen Gottstein
Corporate public speaking skills for people of ambition
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Excuse me, are those your pants?

The link between ignoring women's voices, dipping into public funds and believing the law can’t touch you

Last night, I had that nightmare, the one where I am in some large room. I’m down on some kind of coats or blankets. A man enters the room and walks towards me with neither affection nor warmth in his smile. I try to scream and can’t. I hear myself mumbling and know that it’s not enough to get help.

“Oh!” was the last word my mum said before she passed away nearly two years ago. That’s the “Oh!” of a life-long activist. She could no longer speak, but as an arguer, campaigner, tree-planter, petition-maker, committee member, national park creator, demonstrator, rubbish picker-up-er, and civil activist, she heard Olmert was going to do time and she was thrilled. The Holyland Horror on the Hill, his backroom deals, his presumptions of power, his wink-and-nod envelopes of cash, and his perversion of the legal process finally bit him on his publicly exposed rear. In his statement, after the court’s ruling, he seemed surprised.

He’s been in for two weeks. So has Rav Pinto. They will hang out with fat cat Danny Dankner, former Jerusalem official Uri Shitreet, as well as Judge (yep) Dan Cohen, and (the jewel in the crown) anti-corruption police chief Eran Malka. Now ex-MK Ben Eliezer’s court date is up. They all seem surprised.

In January, Mayor Shimoni of Ashkelon was arrested for sexual harassment and corruption. He joins MKs Silvan Shalom and Yinon Magal and five police at the rank of major general resigning amid harassment scandals in the last 18 months. They join the ever-increasing line of men with their pants around their ankles and their power in tatters.

Talking about pants, last week, I took part as an actor in two days of training simulations for medical students. Clad in my underwear and an absurd, paper gown, I presented a character with a medical history. The med students were graded for making a diagnosis and appropriate recommendations within 10 minutes. As well as the student in the exam, there were up to eight, fully clad, mostly male, medical students in the room who observed the “live” test.

The examinees spoke to me in order to make their diagnosis. The observers, with one female exception, did not speak to me at all before or after the 28 tests I acted in. When I spoke to these observers, they seemed surprised. I mean, they knew I could speak in order to present a character and her issue, but were taken aback that I could speak both to them and that I had an opinion about the interaction they had witnessed.

There is a link between thinking women can’t really speak, that it’s okay to dip into public funds, and that the law can’t touch you.

Mum’s one regret was she never got arrested for some kind of civil disobedience. If she’d been in the same cell as some of these fine fellows, she would have given them a lesson in civics they’d never forget.

As for me, I’m grateful to all those who are successfully keeping their pants on and their hands out of the public pocket. I am also deeply grateful to all those who have the courage to speak out, yell out, get help and demand justice be done. Each of them helps to end the nightmare of the silent, silenced and powerless. Each of them brings us closer to a truly civil society.

And on the practical front, leave the beach cleaner than you found it, take your children to self-defense classes, and support an NGO that campaigns for a group you don’t belong to. It’s the civil thing to do.

About the Author
Helen Gottstein, Loud and Clear Training, boosts public speaking skills for people of ambition and corporate teams so they reach their speaking goals. She's a popular public speaker, a TEDX mentor and a lousy cook.
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