Like a Boss Girls Author Sarah McEvoy reflects on life, politics and why she’s looking to Amy Siskind to guide the way.
One thing I know for certain about myself is that I am not a West Coast girl. But, as life would have it, I found myself living in Portland, Oregon in the fall of 2017. This new coastal residence was only one of several minor-to-major shifts in my life at this time. I was fresh out of college, fresh out of a relationship – fresh out of anything a young twenty-three-year-old woman could be ‘fresh out of.’ Whether it was my youthful vulnerability or not, I could really feel the ‘new frontier’ vibe everyone remarked about in the history books. I was certainly at my own new frontier in life, living thousands of miles from my close-knit kin and I was amazed by how strong and affective the sensation actually was. I was really on my own – for the first time – and I felt it, deeply.
Adjusting to this new reality of separation, freedom and anonymity involved almost-daily phone calls with my mother. There is little that she and I do not talk about. Often our phone conversations will last for an hour or so, and for a quarter of that time she is busy preparing food while I sit silently on the other end of the phone, visualizing her process in the familiar sounds of the kitchen I know so well. Essentially, we just hang out on the phone, and our talks are mostly marked by a calm and casual chatter.
Around the month of November, I can remember a handful of phone calls that were not like the others. They had an air of frenzied worry and speculation. The latest headlines were reporting a flare-up between Trump and the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. Talk of nuclear weapons and their capabilities was coupled with reports of childish bullying launched across Twitter handles. It added insult to injury, flippantly eroding the gravity of the subject of nuclear war. I can remember my mother’s concerned voice, subtly hinting in the most roundabout way that now she really wished I was not on the West Coast.
Now I live in NYC, and when I think back on those phone calls, I feel confused – almost silly or embarrassed, even. The emotions of those phone calls, the emotions we as the people of America experienced because of those headlines, were real. Conversations, debates and questions were raised and for some, plans and actions were drawn up and seen through. But now it’s spring again, and I am not worried about nuclear war with North Korea anymore. But I can’t help but wonder, should I be?
Where did all of that talk and media frenzy go? And perhaps more importantly – what has it turned into? At the least, it’s injured the American people’s ability to know with any certainty the current state of their own country’s safety and stability. But at most, some would say these are the beginning signs of an authoritarian government. Like a strange dream, those troubled phone calls with my mother became another anxious glitch in my life as a U.S. citizen in the time of the Trump administration. I have lost count of the number of moments like these, when Trump is on the news saying and doing things that would have been considered to be incomprehensibly heinous behavior for a U.S. President prior to 2016, all while holding one of – if not the most – powerful positions in the world.
As a young woman in today’s America, the numbers of things I am left to navigate on my own are equally impressive, if not oppressive, in number. Not only is our political climate increasingly temperamental, but socially, our American culture is transitioning in ways it has never known before. With the influence and omnipresence of the media and the internet, we are simultaneously living highly individual and entirely global lives. Definitions, titles and roles are all transforming at a rapid pace, both in terms of time and location.
It is when I reflect on the nature of myself as a young woman in modern America that the presence and mission of a trailblazer like Amy Siskind becomes so obviously important. Her efforts, both in the political and social realm, are unparalleled in their outreach and effect. Not only is Amy a leading journalistic source and touchstone of political reference in a time when phrases like ‘fake news’ circulate in popular media, she has also taken initiatives for the lives and roles of women in today’s economy and society.
Amy Siskind has been and continues to be a catalyst for successful endeavors, both in her own life and the lives of others. A veteran of Wall Street, Amy followed up more than twenty years in distressed-debt trading by co-founding a women’s advocacy group called The New Agenda, of which she is also the president. The New Agenda acknowledges the necessity for a completely inclusive women’s group that would serve as a driving force to address rampant issues of sexism. The New Agenda challenges the status quo, taking on topics, discrepancies and issues that females both young and old must consider and maneuver. By engaging women in a supportive community that celebrates and provides resources for women in leadership roles, The New Agenda is a force in generating systematic change for women in the media, in the workplace, at school and at home.
In an upcoming event, The New Agenda President gives her lecture titled, A Girlfriend’s Guide To Making It In The Real World, featuring “Ten Essential Myths and Musts Every Young Girlfriend Needs to Know.” Amy’s talks and lectures like this one are filled with advice, reassurance, insight and direction for women who need exactly that. Amy’s work with The New Agenda gives women the mentorship and support that is so crucial to building their own strategies for success.
The New Agenda is tackling the social divisions that have developed between generations of women, resulting from a rapid influx of new technologies and culture. This generational isolation is prohibitive to the exchange of useful and relevant life information between women of different ages. The New Agenda is dedicated to providing a safe passage; a bridge connecting women of all ages in a time when disconnection is the default.
The New Agenda is about fueling one of the most instrumental factors in the rise of women: a community of women supporting each other. Amy’s work with The New Agenda, and her dedication to recording the troubling patterns in our current political climate, is invaluable to my own understanding of the world at large and my place within it. As a young woman in the throws of my early twenties, I look to women like Amy Siskind to help me make sense of the nonsensical world of today. I reflect on those agitated phone calls with my mother at a time when I was just starting out in ‘the real world’, and it makes me feel grateful that now I have Amy to thank for guidance. I only wish I had known of her sooner.
Amy Siskind’s highly-anticipated book, The List: A Week-by-Week Reckoning of Trump’s First Year, was released on March 27, 2018. The List is a compilation of Amy’s viral journalistic presence stemming from her website, The Weekly List, which chronicles all of the small and large, inevitably countless and most startling moments of the Trump administration week-by-week, from the very beginning. In such a sensationalized setting that is defined by numerous attempts to dismantle the language of our social and political culture, Amy Siskind’s The List is as historically relevant as it is presently vigilant.
Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, writes of her work, “The List reminds us Trump is not normal, and he’s imposing incalculable harm on America. Not only must he be resisted, but we must never again allow our democracy to be imperiled by a demagogue. Our first line of defense is knowledge of what he’s doing to America and the world. Here it is.” As of today, The List is 70 weeks in and still going strong.
The influence of Amy Siskind through her work with The New Agenda and The Weekly List should catch the attention of anyone who is eager to learn more, seek guidance, or take initiative in movements that are worth championing. To get involved, you can attend one of The New Agenda’s upcoming events, check out The New Agenda website, or attend an appearance or book signing for The Weekly List.