California Is Doing It

Governor Jerry Brown and wife Anne Gust Brown.
Governor Jerry Brown and wife Anne Gust Brown.
Image: via AP

California, whose beaches and progressive policies have earned it the title “The Only Good State in America” (judge and jury: me), has strengthened its sexual harassment laws, thanks to a series of bills signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday.

Variety reports that Brown signed the four bills known as the “Take the Lead” bills, which were championed by actors like Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino in light of newfound attention paid to sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.

The bills would 1) make it easier for victims of harassment and assault to pursue civil damages against their harassers after signing settlement agreements, 2) increase an employer’s liability if freelance or contract workers were harassed on the job, 3) beef up sexual harassment training, and 4) require public companies to have at least one woman board member (or more, depending on the board’s size), since studies have shown companies headed by high-ranking women handle sexual harassers much better than ones that don’t. Can’t imagine why.


California is now the first state in the country to require companies to have women board members, and I can only imagine how the boys will feel about having to let a girl into the treehouse. According to Bloomberg, the state, which is notably home to man-heavy Silicon Valley, has 165 publicly traded companies without any women on their boards, and they have to start staffing up quick—the bill mandates an end-of-2019 deadline. I hear Tesla needs a new chairperson!


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This is nice. But I have to take issue with California being “The Only Good State in America.” I’m a Californian. And I don’t know how we’ve pulled the wool over everyone else’s eyes. We suck so much. Here, off the top of my head, are ten sketchy things about CA no one thinks about. And before you say, “You don’t know what it’s like where I live.” You’re probably right. But I’ve lived in Maryland and New York and Arizona. So I’m not as provincial as most Californians.

1. We produce more food than any other state in the country. And we do it by abusing the labor of almost one million migrant farm workers, who are brown skinned, often Indigenous/Hispanic people. And who include thousands of children.

2. We’re water criminals. Remember Dune? The mini-series staring James McAvoy? Or… if you’re a fucking Geek… the science fiction novels by Frank Herbert? Remember how House Atreides poisoned Arakis with water? That’s us.

3. Our sexual ethos. We’re the reason incels exist. It’s not a coincidence that Elliot Rodger was Californian and went to UCSB. His manifesto isn’t so much the ranting of a mad man as a lucid distillation of what we actually believe. Do you know how many house parties I’ve been to, where I didn’t know anyone, because a friend of a friend had joined the harem of some repulsive spectrum occupying millionaire-for-a-minute tech bro?

4. Silicon Valley.

5. Corporate charter schools courtesy of Silicon Valley. You thought Betsy DeVos was the problem? No. It’s us. Do you know of a school where students are underperforming? We have the google funding to take that shit over, bring in unlicensed, unqualified teachers between the ages of 21 – 30, and gas light parents.

6. Anti-vaxxers. We will kill your children. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But someday, when we emigrate to your small Colorado town.

7. Racism in general: 25% of the state speaks Spanish but we won’t teach academic Spanish in schools, except in elite high schools where most students take it as a foreign language. Most Asian Californians are fourth, fifth or even sixth generation Californians. (Very few white people’s families go back that far here.) But if you look Asian we’ll still ask you where you’re from. And I don’t even know what to say about Black people. Racism towards Black people here is just… weirder than it is everywhere else. And so much of it happens on our freeways.

8. What is public transportation?

9. Right wing fundamentalist evangelical Christians. They’re everywhere here. And they are extra obnoxious. Because they get too much sunlight and it fuels their prosperity gospel. Also, you know all the “cool” mind games fundies play: Like telling their kids they’re going to get to celebrate Halloween and then taking them to a Hell House? We invented that.

10. This is a stretch… because I’m getting tired. But animal cruelty. We miniaturize happy animals until they become freaks of nature and are crushed under the weight of their own skulls.