There is a Season, Turn, Turn, Turn
’ve always lived in states with four distinct seasons–hot, muggy days by the pool shifting to crisp air and flame-colored leaves, deep snowfall melting and letting in that first, fresh rush of Spring. The predictable pattern of the seasons is a constant subtle reminder that time is passing. As an unusually chilly, blustery Spring has finally started mellowing and giving way to balmy, humid days in Washington D.C., I find myself reflecting on seasons past.
If I think back to a Spring only ten years ago, I was a student in college, just starting to find my place in the world. Although it doesn’t feel so long ago, when I really think about it, so much has changed in just a decade, in ways both subtle and profound. Back then, many of my peers were disaffected, jaded, and were complacent in the idea that nothing we did could make a difference. We shied away from conversations about the issues that really matter.
Ten years ago, we did not talk about power-based personal violence, or the staggering rates of sexual assault on college campuses, even though just as many people were being hurt. Many people shunned calling themselves “feminists” like it was a dirty word, and being passionate about social justice had not yet entered the mainstream. Back then, we did not talk about sexual harassment. In our first internships and our minimum wage, entry-level jobs, we might have rolled our eyes at these incidents and tried to laugh them off, or felt disrespected, or felt unsafe, but ultimately felt that we had to deal with these aggressive acts at work if we wanted to succeed in our careers.
Ten years later, a generation of student Title IX activists have changed the face of sexual assault prevention and response on campuses, through influencing legislation, protesting, and advocating. People have shared their stories, their experiences, and made this issue into a national conversation. Today, the #MeToo and #Timesup campaigns have shed light on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, and this lens is quickly being turned toward other fields. We’ve seen seemingly indomitable titans of the entertainment industry like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein face consequences after years of abusive behavior. This activism extends beyond people in the public eye-the media frequently covers stories of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and the public has started to hold the system accountable for not taking these cases seriously, fighting back against the miscarriages of justice we see far too often.
In just ten years, it’s incredible how much has fundamentally changed in our culture—how much we have progressed. Countless individuals across the country have made the choice to speak up, to call their legislator, to talk to their friends about these issues, to show up to awareness events, to read and share articles on social media on these topics-and collectively, these small acts have changed our world. We still have a long way to go, but, for everything, there is season; maybe this is our season to forever make power-based personal violence a thing of the past. We can, and must, continue to build on all the tremendous progress we’ve made in the last ten years, because just imagine-if we all continue to act, to move forward-what can the next ten years bring?