It has been called the Year of the Woman, and rightly so — defined by historic political victories in the United States, #MeToo-fueled uprisings around the world, and women, like Christine Blasey-Ford, who pushed fear aside to be heard.
It can be hard to quantify a year in a few stories or a few sentences, so I decided to do it in quotations instead. Here are a few of the most compelling stories of 2018 as told through the voices of the women who shaped them.
A year of political firsts
“We can’t knock on anybody’s doors, we have to build our own house.”
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress
Women upended the political landscape in last month’s midterm elections, with a record 36 new women winning House seats. There will be at least 102 women in the House next year, the largest number in history. The vast majority of the newcomers are Democrats, including the first two Muslim congresswomen and first two Native American congresswomen, and the youngest woman ever elected.
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Echos of Anita Hill
“I am an independent person, and I am no one’s pawn.”
— Christine Blasey Ford, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about what she said was abuse at the hands of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh
The first Year of the Woman, in 1992, followed the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas despite testimony from Anita Hill, who said she had been sexually harassed by him when he was her boss years earlier.
In September, Christine Blasey Ford, like Ms. Hill also a professor, faced off in a public hearing against Justice Kavanaugh, whom she accused of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s when they were teenagers. He denied it and was soon confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, albeit by one of the slimmest margins in American history.
The motherhood penalty
“It was like they assumed my brain had totally changed overnight. I was seen as having no more potential.”
— Erin Murphy, a corporate executive who said she was passed over for promotions because of her pregnancies
The breadth of discrimination that pregnant women and new mothers endure emerged in a variety of ways this year, including investigations into the appalling state of maternal health for black women and into rampant bias against pregnant women in the workplace.
Even more jarring was our report about how women in strenuous jobs miscarried after employers denied their requests for light duty, even ignoring doctors’ notes.
Ripple effects of #MeToo
“Are you a dog? No? Then why are you urinating in the street?”
— Protest stickers placed on street urinals in Paris, installed to solve the problem of men peeing in the street
We learned that women replaced nearly half of some of the most powerful fallen men (at least those who were replaced) and that Les Moonves would not receive a penny of his $120 million exit package from CBS.
We’ve observed smaller cultural ripple effects, too: N.F.L. cheerleaders who fought for equal pay; South Korean women smashing their makeup; and in Paris, feminist protesters who vandalized open-air urinals that many felt served as an emblem of sexism.
As they put it: “Women who expose their breasts to breast-feed are asked to hide themselves. Men who take out their genitals to urinate are subsidized by city hall.”
Who runs the world? (Girls)
“I will fight for us, all of us. It is a big charge and a big responsibility for our generation.”
— Sage Grace Dolan-Sandrino, an 18-year-old transgender woman and a student at Bard College in New York