The Year of the Woman

by Brie Stimson January 2, 2019
 

 

A multi-ethnic group of adult women are posing together. They are in a health center, and they are wearing sports clothing. The friends are all smiling and laughing together.

Apparently 2018 was “The Year of the Woman.” It felt like it. A record number of women were elected to Congress, #MeToo and #TimesUp were in full swing and even in a conservative place like Saudi Arabia it became legal for women to drive.

As a woman it can feel easy to scoff at these accomplishments and say, ‘but there’s so much farther to go’ – and there is! – but progress is made one step at a time.

Those who think #MeToo has stopped all sexual harassment are, of course, wrong. Harassment is still rampant in many companies, but at least perpetrators and their enablers know that there’s a legion of people ready to expose them and hold them accountable.

Women still don’t have equal pay, but at least we’re talking about it! When it was reported early in 2018 that Michelle Williams was paid less than $1,000 for reshoots of “All the Money in the World” compared to Mark Wahlberg’s $1.5 million, he was shamed into donating his pay to the #TimesUp fund.

Women won 93 seats in Congress last November – the largest number ever – and yet they’re still a small percentage compared to the men and when you talk about minority women, it’s even smaller. Still, political writers are comparing it to 1992 (a previously dubbed “Year of the Woman”) when five women won in the Senate and 24 women won in the House.

And while there were some notable detractors in the progress of feminism, (the disrespectful treatment of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford by some politicians during the Brett Kavanaugh nomination comes to mind) we know progress is progress.

Sometimes progress is one step forward and two steps back, and sometimes it is spurred on by detraction in the other direction. Political scientists agree that both the 1992 and 2018 record-setting elections for women were, in part, propelled by sexism in politics.

2017 saw the first Women’s March, which in itself broke attendance records. The Washington Post said it was likely the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history (depending on how you counted the marches across the country it was roughly $4 million people). And there were a lot of men there, too! The Year of the Woman, the Women’s March and even #MeToo are not sexist movements. It’s about equality. Women have suffered thousands of years of ill treatment, but we’ve finally come to a time in our history when we have enough of a voice to say it’s enough and many of the men in the world are man enough to agree. We’ve certainly come a long way from the 1950s and ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen.’

I’m glad 2018 was called The Year of the Woman (even if there are a couple of asterisks) and I hope that 2019 and 2020 and 2021 are also the years of the woman – up until a time when no asterisks are needed. Have a happy (and feminist) New Year!

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