In November, I was walking through Midway Airport when I was catcalled by a man sitting at a shoeshine station. I was on the phone with my mother, so I mentioned it to her (not that she couldn’t hear it), and added that I was thankful for the catcalling video that had gone viral a few weeks before. After years of being told I was overreacting, I was thrilled that catcalling was finally being recognized as what it is: sexual harassment.
“I’m so glad this is now a national discussion,” I told my mom. And I was.
As other lady journos have noted, 2014 was a banner year for women’s issues. Not every problem was solved, obviously, but for the first time in my life, these issues were a major part of the cultural conversation – and they were being discussed seriously. We talked about catcalling and online harassment. We discussed victim blaming in sexual assault cases, and we looked thoughtfully at the inherent sexism in many school dress codes.
In short, we did good things. Really good things. But I probably don’t have to tell any Global Sisters Report readers that we have to keep moving forward in 2015.
Over the weekend, I covered the ordination of a Catholic womanpriest for the National Catholic Reporter (every day, I’m hustling), and a few days before the event, I spent an hour interviewing the ordinand and three womenpriests who would be leading the ceremony. I asked them candid questions, like where they got their ideas about a womanist church and why, if they think the entire structure of the priesthood is hierarchical and unjust, they even bother becoming priests. Why not, as lay women, just assume the ministry they want?
“The whole feminist movement was a movement that said women are human beings and have human rights,” said Bridget Mary Meehan, a womanpriest and bishop. And from there, she said, it was a short jump to wanting equal rights in the church.
“It’s like Rosa Parks,” she continued. “We’re not going to sit in the back of the bus anymore; we’re not sitting in the back of the Catholic bus.”
Regardless of your thoughts on women’s ordination (and as an almost-Mennonite, I don’t really even have a horse in the race), I think it’s difficult to dismiss that underlying logic, and it illuminates what so many women were saying in 2014: As human beings, women are worthy of respect in every aspect of life. No caveats. No questions. No debate.
We didn’t phrase it quite so overtly here at GSR, but in essence, we’ve spent every day since our April launch saying exactly that. When I reported on October’s Synod on the Family, we made a point to highlight women’s voices, especially since they were underrepresented at the actual synod. When we showcase Catholic sisters’ various ministries – for instance, their work with HIV/AIDS, their work trying to end female genital mutilation or their work in education – what we’re saying is that women are vital participants in the church and in the world; their contributions are integral.
I’m encouraged by the work we all did last year, and I’m excited for what 2015 will bring. I’m already working on some cool stories (I just can’t tell you what they are. Sorry!), and journalists at other publications are already putting out stellar work about women and women’s issues. (I literally just read this fabulous piece about the depiction of female journalists in film. There’s some colorful language in it, though, so be warned.)
It’s going to be a good year, ya’ll.
[Dawn Cherie Araujo is staff reporter for Global Sisters Report, based in Kansas City, Mo. Follow her on Twitter @ Dawn_Cherie.]