Shanetta Y. Cutlar, a high-ranking official of the U.S. Department of Justice, oversees the Special Litigation Section (SPL) of the Civil Rights Division. As chief of the SPL, Cutlar is a steward(ess) of our nation’s civil rights laws.
And, of course, Cutlar is a great diva — which is why we adore her so much.*
Those who get to see a great diva up close, or to work with one, are truly blessed. So what if divas are difficult? That’s why we call them divas.
It should come as no surprise, then, that working for Shanetta Cutlar comes with a few occupational hazards. From a former employee at SPL:
I loved my position, duties and responsibilities. Unfortunately, in time I become a victim of Shanetta’s vicious, often brutal attacks, of constant, uncontrolled rage.
I tried to tolerate and persevere. But eventually the stress began to take a physical toll on me. Down to my last few months or so with the Department, I suffered a bout of diarrhea, each and every morning, before going to work.
My nerves were wrecked. I soon realized I had to seek employment elsewhere outside of the Department.
So I left DOJ and Shanetta. Life is good again.
Color us incredulous. You sacrificed the opportunity to work under an amazing lawyer and leader because, well, you had a touch of the runs?
You need to toughen up. Your “problem” wasn’t anything that couldn’t have been solved with a family-sized bottle of Kaopectate. And a lifetime supply of Depends.
* Sorry, Shalini. We will not apologize for having a weakness for divas. We have loved divas for our entire life, ever since we popped out of one’s womb.
For those of you who care (all six of you), we defend our fixation on divas after the jump.
Every blogger develops his or her own idiosyncratic hobbyhorses and obsessions. Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, is obssessed with “porkbusting.” Dave Kopel, of the Volokh Conspiracy, is obsessed with guns. The Wonketteers are obssessed with Katherine Harris.
So we are obsessed with divas, especially divas who are lawyers (e.g., Hillary Clinton, Shanetta Cutlar, Alexandra Korry, and countless judicial divas). Their lives overflow with dramatic possibility and struggle — struggles that must be viewed through the prism of their gender. Not surprisingly, some of the greatest works of Western literature, including many of our personal favorites — Roxana, Sister Carrie, Tess of the d’Urbervilles — tell the story of a woman making her way in the world.
And what could be more compelling than the story of a woman making her way in the LEGAL world — a world that has been male-dominated since its inception? What does it take for a woman to succeed in such a traditionally masculine realm? What sacrifices must she make along the way, as she climbs the ladder to Biglaw partnership, a top DOJ post, the federal bench?
Okay, enough of this gobbledygook. In the end, it all comes down to this:
Is it our fault that women are much more interesting and psychologically complex than men?
P.S. In response to this comment, here are just a few examples of African-American female lawyers previously discussed in these pages who are NOT divas:
1. Dean Mary Jo Wiggins, of USD Law, is arguably an ANTI-diva:
“Never condescending or arrogant…”
“Very friendly and very easy to talk to.”
“She treats her students and colleagues with dignity and respect.”
2. Iris Barber, of the U.S. Department of Justice
3. Judge Vanessa Bryant, nominated to the District of Connecticut
Do we write about these women as much as Shanetta Cutlar or Judge Janice Rogers Brown? No. But why on earth would we want to?
Divas ALWAYS get more press than colleagues who are less dramatic (read: more boring). And they deserve every word of it.
Earlier: ATL Public Service Announcement: Never Share an Elevator With Shanetta Y. Cutlar
Prior ATL coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar