The #MeToo movement, borne originally from a small group of courageous women fed up with sexual harassment, assault, and toxic masculinity, is a fascinating cultural, sociological, and perhaps historic movement. It started out small, but was quickly and vociferously amplified thanks to social media, and the growing number of women inspired by their collective outrage and a forum to express it in.
The movement has been called an “epochal shift” (Jia Tolentino) a “watershed moment in contemporary feminism” (Sara Jaffe), a “sea change” (Oprah Winfrey) and a “battle cry” (Mary Pflum). The question is - is it a movement or a moment?
For the optimistic among us, it’s a movement that will continue to shift the misogynistic power dynamic in society and tilt the balance toward equality. The pessimistic among us might suggest it would be great if a tilt happened at all, after all we’ve been down this women’s liberation road before. If nothing else, there is certainly a new awareness of the issues magnified by the movement, and that has engendered a new evolution of female empowerment.
What will ensure this is a movement and not a moment is our daughters. As with every generational shift, today’s girls and young women are more outspoken than at any other time in history. Their tolerance for injustice seems lower and their willingness to accept the tried and true is waning. Today, strong girls and young women expect more and demand more. But instead of sitting back and simply willing it to happen, they’re making it happen. And it’s not just in response to sexual harassment or inequality. It’s climate change - look at Greta Thunberg. Education for girls - hello Malala Yousafzai. And gun control - thank you Emma Gonzalez.
Closer to home, it’s young girls like Cheyenne Hardy who we were honoured to present with a Young Woman of Distinction Award last week in recognition of her outstanding contributions to our community. In her profile she said “We’re not the leaders of tomorrow, we’re the leaders of today.” She’s 16. She’s found her voice and it is strong.
We educate our girls in a single-gender environment in senior school because we know that girls and boys learn differently. Over 170 years of teaching and nurturing girls we have tailored our teaching by playing to their strengths. As a result, they are academically more confident, find their voice more quickly, and are more comfortable stepping into leadership roles. We teach them that they can be and do anything they want, but that it takes is hard work and determination. We teach them to stand up for themselves and for what’s right, because if not them then who? We teach them to give back to their community, locally and globally, because love truly makes the world better. These strong girls give us so much hope for our future; and for our today. They will be our leaders, innovators, heroes, and change-makers. They are just who we need to take this movement and make it more than a moment.