I was born in a world where sexual violence towards women was a non-partisan issue. By that I mean, both major political parties agreed that women who came forward were worthless, promiscuous liars.
I came of age in a world where it was a partisan issue. Liberals would chant, “We believe you!” Conservatives were less ready to do so.
I am becoming an adult in a world where women who come forward are not only believed, but they are honored. Their bravery is acknowledged, their fear is heard, their struggle is validated. I am 21 today in a world where Time Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” or, women who came forward about sexual misconduct, their Person of the Year.
In case you didn’t know how things were going for women at this time, Time’s last Person of the Year was Donald Trump, a man who has been accused multiple times of sexual assault, who is also the leader of the free world.
This moment marks growth and progress. This moment symbolizes an entire chorus, once off key and out of practice, learning the song they have been trying for. This moment is hope for every woman who has ever been assaulted, it is relief for every woman who felt she had to “be cool” and not say anything. It is justice for women who lived in fear. This moment is for every woman.
This moment- this movement, is and has been bolstered by women who broke the mold and excelled in careers that we may have once thought of as only for men. This movement was supported by every woman who worked her hardest and did her job. There are the women who were brave enough to tell their stories, and there are women who were strong enough to get the job done despite the story they harbored. This moment and this honor is dedicated to all of those women.
Every woman before you brought us this moment. Every woman after you will be in charge of learning this new song. We always walked tall, we can now walk a little taller.
To all women of the future, I hope “rape culture” will be as foreign to all of you as Blockbuster, as 8-track tapes and as Myspace. I hope this letter reads to you as an antiquated memoir of a time you couldn’t imagine. I hope you and all your friends are fearless, confident and secure in your safety and value. I hope this movement grows and extends its full arms to women of color, trans women, and yes, even to men.
Today is a turning point. Tomorrow is a test. The rest of the days will hopefully be habit.
Never stop singing.