Need proof the tides are turning? Consider this.
In November of 2014, a little over three years ago, Time magazine proposed banning the word ‘feminism’. True story.
In December of 2017, the same month Time declared the ‘Silence-breakers’ the person of the year, guess which eight letter word has been designated by the American dictionary Merriam-Webster as the word of the year? F.E.M.I.N.I.S.M.
Word of the year, people.
Feminism beat the almost symbiotic ‘complicit’ in taking out the top spot, and if the combination of feminism and complicit isn’t a powerful representation of the year 2017, what is?
The reason feminism is enjoying this moment in the spotlight is far from celebratory.
The reason there was a 70% increase in the online searches for ‘feminism’ this year, compared to 2016, sadly isn’t because it’s a redundant historic imperative that enquiring minds are seeking to learn about.
It is dismally, urgently and wholly relevant and 2017 has been the year many masses woke to that fact.
The election of a President who shamelessly boasted about using his power to exploit and assault women was a bridge too far and provided the impetus for millions of women, men and children around the world to take to the streets.
The Women’s Marches in January made clear that women’s rights are a live concern – far from secure – that many are willing to fight for. Trump’s election planted a seed that perhaps the misogyny we have known to exist was more rampant than suspected. As every month of this year has passed this has been plain to see.
The veil of secrecy and the veneer of silence that has protected men have gradually been annulled and women have started to speak out.
The fall out we have witnessed because of it, where powerful men who have allegedly systematically exploited, harassed, assaulted and abused women have finally been held accountable, is unfathomable.
Who would have predicated in January of this year, the same month an unabashed misogynist took the most powerful office in the world, that this would also be the year that some of the most powerful men in the world would lose their command because of the way they treated women?
This has not been a witch-hunt, it’s long overdue comeuppance. It’s a line in the sand.
Even for those of us who have known that sexual harassment isn’t a niche concern this year has been staggering. The scale of the problem, the ghastly details of what so many women have endured, the rise of #MeToo, the change in temperature: this reckoning has been unprecedented.
And while there is no doubt that change is afoot, there is also no doubt that the demise of Bill O’Reilly or Harvey Weinstein doesn’t render individual women safe from sexism or harassment or assault. Because the power imbalance that underpins and facilitates the exploitation of women hasn’t changed.
Our workplaces, our culture, our attitudes, our leaders are in need of a systematic reckoning and feminism is the only vehicle to deliver that.
May 2018 be the year that reckoning begins.
Article originally appeared on Women’s Agenda