So let’s be very clear. Anyone who attempts to excuse any mistreatment of women by saying “what’s acceptable has changed” is missing the point entirely. Discrimination, harassment and rape have never been acceptable. They’ve just been accepted. For most of history, women haven’t had an equal say in the norms that shape a society, or an equal number of seats at the tables where decisions are made. We haven’t had an equal chance to determine what kind of world we live in.
That is why the cascade of horrifying revelations we have read this year has actually made me at least a little hopeful. In 2017, we now expect something better than what has always been accepted. We have launched a movement bent on shattering the glass ceiling for all women: women of color, disabled women, immigrant women, poor women, older women. A movement about rejecting the roles that society has assigned to us, and to our daughters, and demanding the power to choose our own roles.
We are at last confronting the fact that by staying quiet, we protect an unequal, immoral status quo. By raising our voices, we protect each other. Each woman who speaks up about her own experience is making it easier for other women to do the same. And because of the strength in our numbers, the institutions that have enabled systemic sexism and discrimination are starting to act — to fire, to expel, to ostracize, to pass laws. To change.
“I wish I had known that there were women in the business I could have talked to,” Lupita Nyong’o
wrote recently. “I wish I had known that there were ears to hear me. That justice could be served.” I hope that her words are this year’s legacy—and that there will always be women to talk to and ears to hear. Because if there are, then justice will finally be served for all of us.