Welcome to the New World
At the beginning of 2017, I was coming to terms with a harsh new reality. I struggled to be optimistic. Trump was about to commence his reign, and the uncertainty that good could continue to ward off evil was excruciating. And, let’s be honest, we had reason to worry. As I write this now, Trump is joking about nuclear war, supporting pedophiles, and stirring up shit in the Middle East. I can’t even imagine the stuff we don’t know about. Yet. But, believe it or not, something incredibly wonderful happened when Trump and Putin teamed up to take that office. An estrogen revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since women were deemed worthy enough to vote.
Last February I wrote a column about the women’s march on Washington. I watched the endless sea of fed-up faces stream past on the TV screen, pink hats united like a giant piece of Bubbalicious. It was beautiful. My two young daughters sat on my lap, listening intently as I explained to them that the people were marching to make a stand against Donald Trump, a man who – among many other immoral identities – was a proven sexual predator. Proud of his ability to grab women anywhere he wanted and face no consequences. Because he’s powerful. Because women wouldn’t say anything, he bragged, just meekly oblige his male urges then run home to scrub off the shame in silence. It’s harmless, he thought.
Well, it turns out that historic protest was day number one of the predator reckoning. I think all those women marching could feel it. There is power in numbers. There is support and courage and the ability to face the shame and to say – me too. Because for 99.9% of the protestors, it wasn’t actually Donald Trump who sexually harassed them. It was a boss or co-worker or someone who simply felt, like Trump proudly preached on that fateful bus ride, that they could. Last February, I wrote: “I wonder if Trump’s the sole source of the problem, or just the nasty farmer who kicked up the dirt so we could see the ugly infestation that’s crawling around below the surface.” Hello, worms.
As the months of 2017 passed by, brave women with everything to lose shared their stories on cameras and Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. And it worked. It worked! The men who had all the power in the world – or so they thought – fell like dominos. Clink. Clink. Clinkety-clink. Weinstein. O’Reilly. Spacey. Lauer. And eventually, they just started excusing themselves! Sheepishly stepping aside before the accusers had time to clear their throats. Welcome to accountability, gentlemen. Have a nice day.
I never thought I would have anything remotely positive to say a year into the Trump presidency. But all around that dark, miserable storm cloud called the White House, there’s a silver lining. A beautiful, sparkly awareness that – basically – you can’t do that anymore. Women are going to speak up, be heard and believed. You will face consequences. There are new sexual harassment programs and initiatives popping up in all vocations. It’s not okay. Anywhere.
Our next generation will be raised with a new standard practice. This type of behaviour can no longer be ignored or deemed “just fooling around.” That line doesn’t jive, my friends, and it’s up to us, as parents, to teach our kids what appropriate behaviour looks like. We have to talk about it and give examples and make sure they know boundaries and what is consent. Any confusion on these points could screw up their lives, and the lives of their victims. End. Stop.
But, here’s a cool thought. When my girls are young women – which seems to be happening at a gut-wrenching pace I can’t bear to acknowledge – they will feel free, and even entitled, to speak up if they’re not being treated properly. Far beyond the sexual realm. They might receive equal pay for equal work, be awarded the promotions they deserve, and be respected and admired for their intellect. Welcome to the new world. It’s a beautiful place to be.