These past four years have been so tumultuous, it seems like a decade ago when a handful of brave women broke their silence and decided to hold the protectionist system and the powerful predators within it accountable.
Once the headlines announced that former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had finally been sentenced to 23 years in prison for his conviction of third-degree rape and forcible sexual assault, many would think that women would finally be able to breathe easy, because justice had been served.
The reality is, on the other hand, very different.
Once the Weinstein effect triggered international movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, the so-called third feminist wave has taken root in all spheres of our lives.
From the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of now Justice Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of rape, to the mass protests outside the Supreme Court as arguments were heard in the June Medical Services v. Russo case against abortion, there is no space where women are not vigilant for their rights.
Donald Trump is still president, and law enforcement officials attack women who go out to demonstrate against gender-based violence on the streets of the world. Moreover, the rights of immigrant, indigenous, African–American, and LGBTQ+ communities continue to be at risk.
For as Karina Andrea Bidaseca says — and as can be read on millions of banners around the world — “The revolution will be feminist or nothing at all.”
“When people say we are living in divided times, I say we are living in a time of extremes: We both have role models like Rihanna and we can’t get a woman in the White House. A woman is told she can ‘have it all’ — but women are still paid less than men,” feminist editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay told Vox.
“Measuring feminist progress can be challenging. In many ways, women’s lives are dramatically better than they have ever been. But there are also places where feminism’s work is far from over: women who don’t have access to sanitary products, women in certain states fighting for access to reproductive health care, women everywhere facing the constant threat of harassment and assault, to name but a few.”
What’s the next step in this revolution then?
To see a Harvey Weinstein reduced to a grimace of pain without sympathy, to see hundreds of men and women held accountable for the suffering they have caused others, was only the somatic part of it.
“If you even know anything about how rape and sexual violence is adjudicated in the United States, of every one thousand cases of sexual violence, 995 of those perpetrators walk away,” said Tarana Burke, civil rights activist and founder of the Me Too movement, to CNN after Weinstein’s sentence. “So this is symbolic, if nothing else, in that these people, people with that kind of power and privilege that Harvey Weinstein harbored, can be held accountable in the criminal justice system to some degree.”
That is why this symbolism will now represent the force behind every political campaign, every non-profit initiative, and against every unfair measure, every headline that insists on objectification, and every skeptic that insists on turning a deaf ear.
“The next wave of feminism will be a core part of the movements for economic opportunity, political power, and representation,” said Carmen Rojas, founder of the Workers Lab and CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation. “It will be about protecting the vulnerable among us and holding those who make us unsafe accountable as well as imagining and creating a democracy and economy that works for all of us. The next wave is upon us, and I can’t wait to surrender to its possibility.”