It’s easy now to assume that one’s perspectives on race, gender, orientation, and the rest are signs of inherent virtue, but a lot of ideas currently in circulation are gifts that arrived recently, through the labors of others.
Remembering that people made these ideas, as surely as people made the buildings we live in and the roads we travel on, helps us remember that, first, change is possible, and second, it’s our good luck to live in the wake of this change rather than asserting our superiority to those who came before the new structures, and maybe even to acknowledge that we have not arrived at a state of perfect enlightenment, because there is more change to come, more that we do not yet recognize that will be revealed.
Some of that might is monetary, some of it is the corrupt power structures in the financial, political, and entertainment sectors that gave us Fox’s Roger Ailes and CBS’s Les Moonves and New York state’s Eric Schneiderman and Baylor’s football team so many more monsters who seemed to see the abuse of women as part of their puissance. Some of it—quite a lot of it—is gender. There are lots of good reasons for the courts to prosecute individual cases, but justice will not be done until might is no longer right, and power that includes the power of being heard and valued is distributed equally.
It takes a village to silence a victim, and there are a lot of willing villagers.
Ida Skibenes sums up the situation:
Epstein got a sweetheart deal.
Kavanaugh got a scotus seat.
Trump got the presidency.
Blamed. Shamed. Silenced.
But sure. Go ahead. Ask one more time: Why are women so angry? I fucking dare you.
— Ida Skibenes (@ida_skibenes) July 13, 2019
Our largest problems won’t be solved by heroes. They’ll be solved, if they are, by movements, coalitions, civil society. The climate movement, for example, has been first of all a mass effort, and if figures like Bill McKibben stand out—well he stands out as the cofounder of a global climate action group whose network is in 188 countries and the guy who keeps saying versions of “The most effective thing you can do about climate as an individual is stop being an individual.”