WASHINGTON — Throughout 2018, women across the country have experienced several highs and lows. NOW and its allies have refused to sit quietly and watch those who attempt to turn back the clock on women’s rights. We have been tested, but we have risen to the challenge and continued to speak truth to power. Though we recognize there have been many threats to women’s rights, as well as notable victories worth celebrating – below are just some highlights from this past year.
2018’s WORST OFFENDERS OF WOMEN
Betsy DeVos does not care about protecting students – especially the women and girls who are the targets of sexual harassment and violence. Her proposed changes to regulations of Title IX would make schools more dangerous for all students – especially survivors of sexual misconduct. Under these rules, schools would be encouraged (and even required) to be complicit in sexual harassment and violence, prioritizing the accused over the victim.
The network has come under fire for protecting abusers and fostering a toxic culture. Reprehensible behavior has been found to extend throughout the organization with abuses of power demonstrated by several men from Charlie Rose to Jeff Fager – and of course at the very top with CEO Les Moonves. Though the network has made some right moves, from recent pledges to donate to women’s rights groups to ensuring Moonves will not receive a $120 million payout – they should have taken action much sooner to ensure they were not enabling this sort of abuse and misconduct for so long.
In the NFL, a culture of misogyny and violence against women is acceptable, so long as the perpetrator contributes to the bottom line. Led by commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL continues to demonstrate they value profits over people, and they have no desire to implement real change.
An example white privilege and the product of a culture of toxic masculinity, nominee Kavanaugh demonstrated he was unfit for the bench with his temperament and his horrific background of sexual aggression. His appointment is a stain on the judicial system and with the repeal of Roe now a possibility, he could have a lasting negative impact on women’s rights for generations to come.
The assaulter-in-chief has been publicly accused by 19 women of sexual misconduct. Beyond his own rhetoric and behavior, he has appointed other offenders to positions of power within his administration and he continues to promote policies (from separating families to denying access to healthcare) that demonstrate he does not care about women or any marginalized communities. He earns the title of NOW’s worst offender of women.
2018’s TOP VICTORIES FOR WOMEN
NOW convened a coalition of major feminist organizations to develop survivor-centric solutions to the rampant epidemic of sexual violence in our society. Coming together to share first-hand stories, activists worked to take tangible actions that would influence meaningful changes on the ground, in the courts, and in Congress.
Despite dozens of women publicly sharing their stories of how Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them over his decades-spanning career as a powerful media figure, Cosby had long escaped any punishment for his crimes. The first celebrity to go to prison in the #MeToo era, this landmark case demonstrates no one is above the law.
From Illinois becoming the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signing the strongest state pay equity bill in the country, women saw several victories at the state-level – which will hopefully lead to momentum with other states and ultimately at the federal level as well.
In what some dubbed as the “pink wave,” women were at the forefront of this year’s midterm elections. From record voter turnout to a record 102 women elected to Congress, women made sure their voices were heard. We made it known that women demand to be represented, and we put them in leadership roles and positions of power.
Survivors of sexual violence have often hesitated to come forward due to fear of reliving the trauma among other potential consequences that would disrupt their lives, but 2018 has shown that the #MeToo movement is here to stay. More and more women are following in the footsteps of heroes like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to demand justice and that their voices be heard.