2018 Is Over — Did These 8 Issues Make It ‘The Year Of The Woman’?

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It was, occasionally, and felt like it started out as — The Year of the Woman. While 1992 had previously and decidedly held that status, the United States (or at least its pundits and parts of the Media) felt that 2018 was (while it was happening) poised to overtake 1992’s place. If nothing else, 2018 shed a big, bright light on how far we’ve come on Women’s Rights. And, the answer is — not as far as we thought? had hoped? want to be?…

Ahem, with all due respect to the many, many women (and men — and their parents, and partners and children who supported them) who’ve shed blood, sweat and tears paving the way on Women’s Rights in the past — those first-, second-, and third-wave feminists — it’s clear we still have a looooooong way to go on Women’s Rights. We can find hope in the simple idea that perhaps steady, gradual change is more lasting and sustainable than sudden (and sometimes) violent revolution…

There is some good news here. I mean, progress is being made — and it has been doing so for centuries — it’s just so freakin’ slow. And while it’s not fun or productive to get mired in what (to some of us) can seem like a continual dance of one step forward and two steps back, it’s important (and in some cases, urgent) to know exactly where we stand. Here’s a sampling.

Was 2018 The Year of The Woman?

Because there’s always so much Shit. To. Get. Done….always, (right moms?), I usually allow the podcast or public radio streaming to teach me the current events lessons. So if you’re looking for an efficient way to contemplate this debate, listen to Year Of The Woman? on 1A. The quotes on this debate are phenomenal and definitely worth a listen (not to mention the interviews and conversation).

We know that Wikipedia is the authority on ALL THINGS FACTUAL (HA!), and they still cite 1992 as The Year of The Woman. The striking parallels between 1992’s “Year of the Woman” and 2018, explained by a historian sums of the similarities for an intriguing read, and CNN did a little opinion roundup in It’s not the ‘Year of the Woman.’ It’s the ‘Year of the Women‘.

CNN also explored the issue in September, after Ocasio-Cortez won. While much of the article highlights some great ideas regarding whether or not we would fulfill the prophecy of The Year Of The Woman, it does fail on one point: “Much has been made about this possibly being another “Year of the Woman.” The phrase hearkens back to 1992, when in the wake of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, women increased their representation in Congress. This year, that doesn’t appear likely.” WRONG — in a good way :-).


1. The Long & Winding Road To Women’s Equality

We Might Finally Have Legal Equal Rights??? What??!!

SO, in case you weren’t aware — if I was, I must’ve forgotten — the Equal Rights Amendment passed by Congress in 1978 was never ratified. It requires 38 states to become law, and Illinois was the 37th state to do so, just recently, nearly 50 years later. Now, a bipartisan coalition in Virginia is campaigning to become the final state to JUST DO IT.

Some legal experts say an Equal Rights Amendment will give women a better chance at winning discrimination cases in court.

Patricia Wallace, an attorney in Richmond, says it also will be easier to strike down state laws, like one in North Carolina that says it’s not legally considered rape if a woman agrees to have sex then changes her mind.

“There are various little statutes around the country that do things like that,” Wallace says. “Where there’s a disparate treatment of men and women.”

Back in 1978, one of America’s most antifeminist icons, Phyllis Schlafly, (SIGH), sounded a lot like the woman arguing that #metoo sounds like self-indulgent-hedonistic-plea-for-i-don’t-know-what. Ironically, everything MS. (yes, I did that on purpose) Schlafly thought would come to fruition if the ERA passed (same-sex marriage, abortion, the military draft for women, co-ed bathrooms and the end of labor laws that barred women from dangerous workplaces) has happened without the ERA’s ratification. Sooo….
Defined by #MeToo, a HUGE number of women elected to Congress & other social issues, 2018 was called "The Year of the Woman". But was it? Let's see.
Anyhoo: much like there’s been A WHOLE LOAD OF BACKLASH against the victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment (see the year in #MeToo below), it’s not the first time, and appears to be more of a national trend. As evidenced by The Brian Lehrer Show’s series on the Eights, 1978 saw a ton of backlash against the passage of the ERA led by Schlafly, who argued that the states didn’t need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment because it “would be a step down for most women, who she said are ‘extremely well-treated’ by society and laws.”

Movin’ On Up — Sort Of

One symbol we think of when we think of women’s equality is in the form of pay. Most of us know about the gender pay gap, and we know about Women’s Equal Pay Day — errrrr — scratch that — there’s not just one Women’s Equal Pay Day…oh no…there are several. Equal Pay Day marks how many days into a new calendar year women have to work in order to make the same amount non-Hispanic ‘white’ men made during the previous calendar year.

When averaged all together, women make 80 cents on the dollar, with Equal Pay Day for that discrepancy marked on April 10 this year. However, it’s not THAT simple. Here’s the 2018 breakdown:

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: August 7. While white women make about 21 percent less than white men on average, according to the Black Career Women’s Network, Black women make 38 percent less than white men, and about 21 percent less than white women overall.

Native American Women’s Equal Pay DaySeptember 27.  Native American women in the U.S. only make, on average, 57 cents for every dollar a white American man makes, according to the American Association of University Women(AAUW). This means Native women have to work roughly nine months longer than a white man to make the same amount of money.

LatinaWomen’s Equal Pay Day: November 1. On average, Latinas are paid 53 cents for every dollar that white, non-Hispanic men make, according to the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. The Latina wage gap is the worst of the wage gaps for women.

Defined by #MeToo, a HUGE number of women elected to Congress & other social issues, 2018 was called "The Year of the Woman". But was it? Let's see.

And just so I don’t get called out for overlooking anyone, we’ll consider national Equal Pay Day (April 10), the day when women with less melanin in their skin make an equal amount to non-Hispanic white men from the prior year. And without creating any more divisiveness, we have to point out that Asian Women’s Pay Day was February 22, representing .87 for every dollar earned by a non-Hispanic caucasian man, with the caveat that Southeast Asian Women’s Equal Pay Day was September 12, last year, closer to Black and Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day.

According to the World Economic Forum, we still have 100 years to go on this one…


2. Is Nasty The New Nice?

Oh, hysterical women. That has, in the past, been how we’re thought of…it’s no coincidence that hysteria resembles hysterectomy — at least, in etymology. But it seems that this year has featured a shift in tolerance for women’s emotions, even if not an acceptance.

Not-So-Nice Lady

The tone of this year inspires us to note one way in particular that 2018 was different from 1992: Nasty Women are allowed. Despite her aptly (and sarcastically named) standup special “Nice Lady“, Michelle is more nasty than nice, and she likes it that way. She opened the year with a scathing performance at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, after which, the committee decided they will no longer have a comedian at the helm of the annual roast….it’s unlikely I’ll see how that goes over…I like my comedy funny, #thankyouverymuch.

I think sometimes they look at a woman and they think “Oh, she’ll be nice,” and if you’ve seen any of my comedy you know that I don’t — I’m not. I don’t pull punches. I’m not afraid to talk about things. And I don’t think they expected that from me. I think they still have preconceived notions of how women will present themselves and I don’t fit in that box.

Good And Mad

And….whether we like it or not, we’re talking a little more about women’s anger — and when and where it has a place (because apparently, it still does —contained). Anger probably got the most attention from Rebecca Traister regarding her book Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, which focuses on female anger as political fuel.

Defined by #MeToo, a HUGE number of women elected to Congress & other social issues, 2018 was called "The Year of the Woman". But was it? Let's see.

If you aren’t reading the book, you can listen to The New Yorker interview here or The Brian Lehrer Show segment below:

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention something we haven’t spoken much about this year: healing. One of my favorite shows on the air, On Being with Krista Tippett, did just this in the episode #MeToo Through a Solutions Lens. “We explore this with psychotherapist Avi Klein, who works with men and couples, and feminist journalist Rebecca Traister. In a room full of journalists, at the invitation of the Solutions Journalism Network, we explored how to build the spaces, the imaginative muscle, and the pragmatic forms to support healing for women and men, now and in time.”

And…a few fun ones: National Geographic’s book In Praise of Difficult Women by Karen Karbo profiles women throughout the world who have pushed societal norms and boundaries in areas spanning the gambit from politics, art, media, books, and more. It includes the Notorious RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the power of ‘difficult women’. And in a year where we’re getting more comfortable (or at least exploring) our emotions, NPR’s Ann Powers found a way to encapsulate it, by making a playlist: A Woman’s Rage: Songs About Being Fed Up.


3. A Year (Or 12) After  #MeToo 

My college Poli Sci professor, the awesome Jennifer McGilvary, taught me so much about political parties and political ideologies (I am, for the record, an Independent*), and one of the things she taught me was the pendulum. Although our social ideologies are vastly different, ranging from reactionary or nationalist to progressive or socialist (however, you want to order all that – or put it on a horseshoe), our social politics swing like a pendulum. So, just like for the past 10 years we saw the most recent backlash against civil rights and people of color, from the Tea Party to Mr. Trump, I GUESS, in SOME ways, we’re seeing that with women??? (#louisckgetsgigs)

The Economist article, After a year of #MeToo, American opinion has shifted against victims, features the survey documenting one of our many steps backwards. Not only do more men AND women blame victims more in 2018 than they did in 2017 according to a survey, but I’ve even heard people — women— on the radio criticizing #MeToo and next steps for women in the workplace, despite knowing women who were sexually assaulted and/or abused. One in particular, from here in Pennsylvania, said she even thinks the hashtag/movement #MeToo sounds “selfish”, as if women are only interested in “what’s in it for them”.

Of course, Tarana Burke pioneered the Me Too movement back in 2006, although it didn’t become a slacktivism movement until 2017 after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein. I still wonder how we just gloss over the Bill Cosby affair even though 60 women stepped forward to accuse him — but whatever.

On the bright side, TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, a result of the TIME’S UP movement (founded by film celebrities following a letter of solidarity from the the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas – the National Farmworkers Women’s Alliance), is making noteworthy gains on the ground by connecting “those who experience workplace sexual harassment and related retaliation with legal and media assistance.” By the end of 2018, they’d raised more money than any other GoFundMe campaign in history — $22 million since December 2017. ALSO, and equally important, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that restricts the use of nondisclosure agreements. A similar law will go into effect in New York this year.

California’s new NDA law applies to both public and private employees and expands on an existing law that bars settlement provisions that would prevent the disclosure of felony sex offenses. The new law bans the use of a confidentiality clause to suppress factual information in sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation claims.

It also allows an accuser to shield her identity along with any information that might lead to her unveiling as long as the case does not involve a government agency or public official. Both parties can request that settlement amounts remain sealed.”

Audie Cornish interviewed Fatima Goss Graves, co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund on All Things Considered last Tuesday, where Graves reflects on what’s changed for #MeToo, Times’s Up, and women over the past year:

…On College Campuses

Aside from the workplace, the conversation is FINALLY changing regarding behavior on college campuses. I mean, I know there’s *part* of a whole generation of us who reflect on the college environment (ripe for  “hookups” and unsafe drinking — and all the acts that accompany that — like, uh, sexual assault) with ambivalence, so it’s nice to know that perhaps in the future, what was considered normal hopefully won’t anymore. How Schools Can Reduce Sexual Violence highlights the current research focusing on positive social norms (like NOT being drunk and NOT hooking up), and how colleges are using that to change behavior. I can’t, unfortunately, claim that the actual behavior has changed or that there’s a been a complete paradigm shift, (six states have recently introduced bills to teach consent in their K-12 sex ed classes), but at least the discussion has begun…

Likewise, Blurred Lines Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus, by Vanessa Grigoriadis, offers insight into the complexity of blame and victimization on campus, and the reckoning happening within many campus cultures.

Defined by #MeToo, a HUGE number of women elected to Congress & other social issues, 2018 was called "The Year of the Woman". But was it? Let's see.

…Or get the short version by listening to the interview with Terry Gross:

…In Sports

The Army of Women Who Took Down Larry Nassar  – Even if you don’t read what I have to say about it, this GLAMOUR article is phenomenal — seeing the portrait of 84 ACCUSERS STANDING TOGETHER is a statement in and of itself — work really well done. We would be remiss not to mention one of the saddest, most challenging episodes in sexual assault, likely for an entire generation. The Monster Who Is Larry Nasser — I’m a pretty humane person, but I think we can all agree, no matter how ‘nice’ we are, that Larry Nasser is an AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL creature. Even the judge let him know it, so I think it’s OK here. Anyway, these brave, brave women stood and gave heart-wrenching testimonies about their experience, resulting in Nassar being sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. “I just signed your death warrant,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said as she imposed the sentence. 

…Internationally

I don’t know if you’ve bean paying attention to the news out of India lately, but I certainly have. While I’ve been working on this story this has been happening: Millions Of Women In India Join Hands To Form A 385-Mile Wall Of Protest. In short, “according to government estimates published in the Indian press, somewhere between 3.5 million and 5 million women lined up on National Highway 66, a long stretch of road that runs along the country’s western coast. The “wall” stretched out 385 miles. Organizers said it was a continuous chain from one end of the state to the other, but some critics say there were gaps.”

The demonstration was planned to create awareness of gender equality — and to protest a religious ban that prevented women of menstruating age from entering one of the country’s sacred Hindu temples even after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of their entry on Sept. 28 last year.”

Along those lines, India is having its own sort of #MeToo moment, with dozens of men ranging from journalists and Bollywood actors to executives being accused of sexual assault. A government minister was even forced to resign.

One of the really cool narratives from this movement, is that one woman, a woman from a lower caste, is actually getting credit for all that she’s done over the past 25 years or so leading to sexual harassment guidelines and other human rights legislation. She was raped while working as “working as a saathin (Hindi for “friend”) at the Rajasthani state government’s Department of Women and Child Development. Her job was to go door to door in her home village…educating local women about hygiene and family planning. She had also started campaigning against child marriage.

After attempting to halt the marriage of a nine-month old, the mother of three was raped by the baby’s father and three other higher-caste men.

a women’s aid group picked up Devi’s case, and took it all the way to India’s Supreme Court. It led to the adoption, in 1997, of India’s first workplace sexual harassment guidelines. They were revised in 2013, and the Indian government is reportedly considering further revisions, in the wake of the current #MeToo movement.

I think her role has been path-breaking. Bhanwari broke the silence on rape in 1992,” says Kavita Srivastava, national secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, which calls itself India’s oldest and largest human rights group. “[Abusers in her village] looked upon it as, ‘how dare one lowly woman challenge them.'”

For another inspiring peek into how things are changing for the better for women in India, check out the story of this Oscar-nominated film about a man determined to build a better sanitary napkin for his wife. He was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2014, and now there’s a film (Period. End of Sentence.) about him.


4. The State of Women’s Work

For as far as we’ve come in workplace, there’s still a loooooong way to go. Even though we’re getting more jobs and a better variety of jobs, female representation still has much, much further to go. This boring (BIG YAWN) story reminds us that ‘Manels’ — All-Male Panels — Are Still The Norm (The @allmalepanels social media account is much more fun, where a picture of David Hasselhoff giving a thumbs up is posted with a note “Congrats, you have an all male panel!” when such events happen). Here’s a sampling from 2018.

In Blatant Sexism

If you’ve failed to think of cheerleaders and fashion models as having a ‘workplace’ you’re not alone. It’s unlikely we’ve thought about this out of malice, but it is likely we haven’t thought much about it at all. But the shake up has hit the runways and dressing rooms (and it is still very shaky), as well as the world of sports. The scandals range from the NFL’s implicit (and unequal) control of what cheerleaders like Bailey Davis post on social media and how their bodies are exploited while they’re working, to the case of the Houston Texans, who WERE NOT PAID EVEN THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE…oh wait, what’s the average annual salary for an NFL player? — oh, $2.1 million — I guess less than $7.25 an hour is fair 🤯. If you need a side of humor with your entree of crazy, check out this Samantha Bee clip: Revenge of the CheerleadersGloria Allred helps fight the NFL for cheerleaders’ rights and fair pay. Oy!

The Continual Battle For Fairness

And in tales of Better Late Than Never, female veterans are asking to be included in Veterans Affairs motto. The move is a larger part of a preceding effort to rename the Manhattan VA after Margaret Corbin, the first woman to receive recognition from the U.S. for her military service, currently a bill in Congress sponsored by Kristin Gilibrand. However, some activists, in a related move, also want to change the words written on all VA hospitals – by updating the VA motto:

“…to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”

It’s from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, delivered in the closing days of the Civil War. Advocates want to change the motto to, “…and for ‘their’ widow, and ‘their’ orphan” — to reference both male and female vets.

And it’s about time…as we noted in our post highlighting the homeless female veterans documented in Served Like A Girl, American women have been serving in war zones for decades, if not centuries. And the musical ‘Hello Girls’, recognizing “America’s first women soldiers, the first women to serve actively in the military, who were bilingual French-English translators, who served on the front lines in World War I” as telephone operators” opened in November. The women “served at Pershing’s headquarters, near the front and within German artillery range,” but were not recognized as army veterans until 1977 (after MUCH petitioning).  In July, a pair of senators proposed they be recognized with the a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal (the bill is still in committee).

Nope, Noppity, Nope…We Can’t Have It All

So, even though Sheryl Sandberg eventually apologized for her, uh…shortsightedness? — shall we say — that it’s difficult for women with children but without a supportive partner or no partner at all, or from less privileged backgrounds, to lean in, the idea is still out there, and women are continually having to debunk it. Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama did just that in a talk with poet Elizabeth Alexander in December, apparently forgetting she was in public when she made her opinion very clear:

Marriage still ain’t equal, y’all,” she said, according to Vanity Fair.”It ain’t equal. I tell women that whole ‘you can have it all’ — mmm, nope, not at the same time, that’s a lie. It’s not always enough to lean in because that s*** doesn’t work.”

Journalist Amy Westervelt even wrote a book on it: Forget “Having It All”: How America Messed Up Motherhood — and How to Fix It.

Defined by #MeToo, a HUGE number of women elected to Congress & other social issues, 2018 was called "The Year of the Woman". But was it? Let's see.

For the short version, listen to the interview here:

 


5. Disparities Among Us

What’s Good For The Goose Is (NOT) Good For The Gander

I mean, it’s difficult to contemplate, but how a society treats its prisoners is often a reflection of how it views the members of its population. I spent time in a jail when I was a photojournalist covering a lieutenant (the first women and person of color to be sheriff in her county), and I became acutely aware of how poorly prisons were prepared to care for women — I say care intentionally — in theory, incarceration’s purpose is to rehabilitate people so that they return to society, despite the fact that the conditions there (at least in the U.S.,) often do the exact opposite.

There are a whole range of issues regarding women in prison — from not having enough toilet paper and other basic sanitation supplies in Arizona, which has the the sixth-highest female incarceration rate of any state, to getting punished with solitary confinement for “reckless eye-balling” 🙄 (making a face)😱.

Across the country, women in prison are disciplined at higher rates than men — often two to three times more often, and sometimes more — for smaller infractions of prison rules.

Discipline for small infractions can also result in the loss of privileges like being able to buy food or supplies — including women’s hygiene products — at the prison commissary. Or inmates lose their visitation and phone privileges. That can have a particular effect on women, because more than half of women in prison are the mothers of children 18 or younger.

This is a really good article, y’all. I highly recommend it.

On a brighter note, some states, like Iowa, are working to correct (hehe) this. “Called “gender-responsive corrections,” the movement is built on a simple idea: that prison rules created to control men, particularly violent ones, often don’t work well for women. That women come to prison with different histories from men — they’re more likely to be victims of violence, for example — and they need different rules.” Therefore, I have to recommend THIS ONE, too: In Iowa, A Commitment To Make Prison Work Better For Women. It’s got AMAZING multimedia elements of “Mary Kathleen “Kathy” Tyler, an 82-year-old woman incarcerated at Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, [who]was sentenced to life in prison in 1978. She is an avid reader, artist and pianist; is employed as a court reporter; and has accumulated a handful of degrees since she was incarcerated.”

There are about 15 other states in addition to Iowa trying such gender-responsive practices. That’s definitely a level of winning we want to celebrate.

And here’s one more:

Programs Help Incarcerated Moms Bond With Their Babies In Prison: Now that we’ve witnessed a generation of children grow up without involved, physically present fathers due to mass incarceration, there’s hope that something is being done so that the next generation doesn’t grow up without mothers. The Washington Corrections Center for Women “is one of at least eight prisons in the country that allows a small number of women who are pregnant and give birth while incarcerated to keep their newborns with them for a limited time.” Keep in mind that about 60 percent of women who are locked up HAVE NOT BEEN CONVICTED OR YET HAD A TRIAL, and in Australia, much like the U.S., many of these women are victims of domestic violence. THIS — that some mothers can bond with their babies despite incarceration — is a sign of progress.

Embracing Difference

And, finally a little bit of hope and a lot of empathy — in the category of Books I’d Never Heard Of But Suddenly Want To Read: White Dancing Elephants. One of FAVORITE short stories when I was a high school senior was Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway, so when I saw this article about White Dancing Elephants (I rarely check out book reviews, I just keep a running list gained from word of mouth), I was totally intrigued…and now I MUST READ IT.

Defined by #MeToo, a HUGE number of women elected to Congress & other social issues, 2018 was called "The Year of the Woman". But was it? Let's see.

 

Victims of Violence

Unsurprisingly, domestic violence is still a HUGE issue that doesn’t seem to be seeing much light. According to a U.N. Report: 50,000 Women A Year Are Killed By Intimate Partners, Family Members.

“Last year, 50,000 women worldwide were killed by intimate partners or family members — a figure that translates to 1.3 per every 100,000 women, according to a global study on gender-related killing of women and girls released this month by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).”

While this is deeply troubling (and it is), there is some hope. We are finally, as a society, trying to address the way we raise children, the way we frame masculinity, and the way we frame the conversation about rape.


6. The New Women’s March

On the topic of tying women’s progress too closely to a political ideology — it’s even damaging to the one movement where we really should — really, really should — be unified. Since the 2017 Women’s March, it’s been clear that while we are marching together city-by-city around the globe, there’s been, in Robyn Young’s words, “a splinter” in the women’s movement, that has been there for more than 70 years. While we know that no one wants to be a Becky or intends to be a Becky (warning: satire included) or to be anti-Semitic or seem anti-Semitic — it’s happening. And has been happening for decades, especially when many women of color felt left out of the modern women’s movement that paralleled the civil rights movement.

The new (or at least transparent goal) in this wave of the women’s movement, is to be “intersectional” — meaning the goal is to fight for and secure rights for all women — black, disabled, poor, Muslim, transgender. Historically, the face of the movement has been largely white, and has focused on things like equal pay and abortion, but had neglected concerns closer to home for low-income and women of color. We’re having A LITTLE BIT OF TROUBLE WITH THAT RIGHT THIS HOT SECOND — and if you’re even aware that March On and The Women’s March are two different organizations right now, well, good on you. If you’re looking forward to marching in a few weeks, check with your local group — so far Chicago, Tulsa and Eureka, California are on hold, due to concerns ranging from whether one city’s march will be ‘too white’ to accusations that co-founders Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez made anti-semitic comments. A scan though Google News results elicits a lot of opinion pieces and very little news other than the NY Times piece and this one from USA Today, but the interviews on Here & Now last week are pretty enlightening.


7. Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington

So we were super-thrilled that We The People sent a record number of women to Congress in the 2018 midterms. In Shana’s words: “We did just elect more than 100 women to the US House of Representatives — for the first time ever — and some of our new reps are women of color, as well as a Native American and Muslim.” This is huge, and represents the “biggest jump in women members since the 1990s.”

So, we now have (in CNN anchor Ana Cabrera’s words):

Defined by #MeToo, a HUGE number of women elected to Congress & other social issues, 2018 was called "The Year of the Woman". But was it? Let's see.

Indeed this is A MOMENT regardless of political party. In fact, the House of Representatives actually opened — last week — a state-of-the-art daycare. Although cause for both celebration and conflict, lawmakers hope the $12 million childcare center (oy!) will keep highly qualified public servants (including women) on Capitol Hill longer. We (meaning the collective we who have high hopes for society overall) hope it will serve as an example of how both the public and private sector can improve and expand employment opportunities (meaning childcare options) for ALL workers.

I do have to point out that I’m quite dismayed that even though we sent over 100 women to Congress, they aren’t equally represented on both sides of the aisle. I mean, I didn’t expect the numbers to be equal — but, certainly we would expect this phenomenon to have applied more broadly. More women in Congress, regardless of party, would certainly be more beneficial to ALL women in the country. We hope. And it’s seriously disheartening to see that the GOP has lost female representation.

To be clear, women are underrepresented on both sides of the aisle in Congress. Just under 1 in 4 members will be women next session. But less than 1 in 10 Republican members will be women.

And their numbers will decline this year, both at the national and state level — in Congress, there will be 20 GOP women, down from the current 29. And in state legislatures, there will be 660 Republican women, down from 705 now

And one of these women, shockingly referred to as a “shiny new object” by former Senator Claire McCaskill, is about to pave the way for more women and people with diverse socio-economic circumstances by paying her interns $15 an hour. This is HUGE.

“Whether an internship pays has a profound effect on who is able to apply for and accept it. Young people without wealthy parents or a university footing their expenses may find themselves juggling second or third jobs in the evenings after their internship. But a congressional internship can be an important step toward future opportunities in government or elsewhere. If such positions are open only to children of the wealthy, then the wealthy will very likely continue to be overrepresented as public officeholders.”

But, back to the main thing….the number of women heading to Congress. To get a visual, check out What It Looks Like To Have A Record Number Of Women In The House Of Representatives. And just so we can end on a high note — the average age of Congress has decreased, finally, (no offense to a certain Senator from the Left Coast) — by a dramatic 10 years. With the average age of lawmakers dropping to around 47, we’ll see how things like Twitter, and understanding that Google doesn’t make the iPhone, do for our country. Yay!

8. SHINE, Women of The Future

Finally, I’ve got to end on a few items brought to us by the Girl Scouts of the USA. A 10-year-old girl created a “Raise Your Hand Patch” to encourage girls to be confident. You can read Alice Tapper’s opinion piece explaining her inspiration, which appeared in the Times here (why yes…, she is Jake Tapper’s daughter). “In her op-ed, Alice made it clear that scouts must show that they deserve the patch. The criteria? A scout must raise her hand in class and encourage at least three other girls to do the same.”

If that’s not enough inspiration for you, after what seems like a super-tumultuous year, try this: 16-year-old Sakshi Satpathy has created an ENTIRE HUMAN TRAFFICKING, CHILD MARRIAGE and GENDER EQUALITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, including three documentary films, AND “a training curriculum to help rehabilitate trafficked girls, not to mention a website and YouTube playlists of educational videos about these issues from various nonprofit groups”. These are the component parts that make up the initiative she calls Project GREET: Girl Rights: Engage, Empower, Train. Satpathy was one of 10 recipients of the GSUSA Gold Award, in a ceremony at the United Nations on October 11, the International Day of the Girl. You can read her interview here.


SO — was 2018 The Year Of The Woman? Was it even the Year Of The Women? It sure did bring a lot of fresh hell to light, some of which I even skipped, and certainly seems to have us perched on the the precipice of a new page…but was it all that title The Year Of The Woman promises, pregnant with expectation, delivery imminent??? You tell me…I’d love to hear your thoughts. We’d also love to know how you’d like to see topical round-ups like this in the future — as they come up? monthly? weekly? never — (ha!)?

xo,
Lex

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About Author

Alexis is our resident nerd and watchful editor. In addition to styling our syntax and fact-checking brand capitalization (ahem, rag & bone, and [BLANKNYC]), she’s also whipping up editorial guidelines, strategizing social media and conjuring up new projects. With her own personal style (boots, dresses, scarves), she doesn’t consider herself a fashionista, but she is keeping us #well #woke #sustainable #empathetic #inclusive #current, #down-to-earth and #open-minded; her wisdom ranges from yoga home practice and Feng Shui-ing an apartment, to living overseas and momming while black. As the single mother of an extrovert, she, like Julieta, often ‘forgets’ to come out of the bathroom.

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9 Comments

  1. I love your work! So we’ll written and well researched. I can’t wait to read these articles/hear the radio pieces you’ve brought up here. And I’d love to have more of your writing on TME in any format, but I do love this one.

    • Alexis L. Richardson on

      Thank you SO much! That means a lot. I know you’re a loyal reader (we LOVE your comments), so it’s nice to know our disruption isn’t too disruptive :-). xo, Lex

  2. I loved this post! Keep ’em coming. I feel so much more informed and am looking forward to doing my own research to find out ways in which I can help. As my 16 year old would say, I gotta stay woke. *cringe* lol

    • Alexis L. Richardson on

      I love it, Marissa! Thank you so much for letting us know — we truly appreciate the useful feedback. Love your daughter’s perspective 🙂 xo, Lex

  3. I am captivated by your writing and find myself reading every word of your articles. You have a fantastic approach at presenting very meaningful information to the reader in an informative, educational and captivating way. Extremely well-done article, keep ’em coming!

    • Alexis L. Richardson on

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment, Bern! I read this comment right when I got to the office after a fairly crappy ‘gonna-be-late-for-school-morning’ with my kiddo, and your words totally changed my mood for the rest of the day. It’s so helpful for us to know which posts our readers appreciate, especially when they aren’t fashion. Cheers. xo, Lex

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