From the end of the so-called Mommy Wars, to the decreasing acceptance of fat-bashing, Lynn Beisner shares what she’s looking forward to in the year ahead.
Optimism is my default setting, but I find myself particularly optimistic about the new year. It seems to me that we saw some pretty great things growing in 2012 that should grow and even bear fruit in 2013. Here are some of the things that give me hope and something to look forward to. Some are important things, and others are trivial. But even small things matter, since I believe that the secret to a happy life is to be easily amused.
- Increasing marriage equality and rights for LGBT people. It feels like in 2012, we reached critical mass on the rights of the LGBT community. Now, in 2013, hopefully all that remains is to push through the paperwork, and celebrate with those we love.
- An end to—or at least a cease-fire in—the Mommy Wars. There seems to be a growing agreement among parents that raising children is tough enough without making it a competitive contact sport. We also seem to be gaining an understanding that what really matters is not just how well we take care of our own children, but how well we care for all of the children in our society.
- The increasing ubiquity of feminist ideals. I have heard many people bemoan the fact that so many women are unwilling to identify as feminists. I actually find some hope in this: It means that core feminists ideas have become so ubiquitous, so ingrained in our social fabric, that for many people it goes without saying that, of course, we believe that women should have the same rights as men. I will never forget the day I told my young daughter in deadly earnest, “Don’t think you have to chose between being a mom and having a career.” She was so shocked that anyone would even think of asking her to make such a choice, that I had to pull the car over. My tears of joy were making driving hazardous. I can’t wait to see how feminist ideals continue to permeate our society.
- A growing emphasis on making micro-changes and offsets to make the environment, our society, and ourselves healthier. For example, Michael Moore has been writing about the micro-changes he makes toward health. These seem to work so much better than making the sort of drastic lifestyle changes that invite failure. These micro-changes and offsets are helpful when we think about activism. For example, I have grown a butterfly garden to offset my rather large carbon footprint. We are increasingly letting go of the idea that we can make everyone health nuts, or die-hard environmentalists, and instead we are finding small changes or alternative paths that will allow us to make our world better.
- An end to the era of greed being good and a return to the idea that goodness is about generosity and compassion. We are finally emerging from an era where we all seemed to believe that positive thinking and hard work was all it took to be healthy and wealthy. I am grateful that we are facing the reality of our society, that it is filled with injustices that have profoundly negative effects on individuals. I am glad that we are acknowledging that some people are truly disadvantaged not because they lack character, but because we as a society have failed them. I look forward to a return to charity, compassion, and an acknowledgement that luck of birth is all that has separated most of us from those living on public assistance or in a homeless shelter.
- The beginning of the end of the war on drugs. The war on drugs has been particularly brutal on minority families, and has done little if anything to help real addicts. Personally, I am looking forward to the legalization of drugs like pot because I deal with chronic pain, and marijuana has been shown to be less addictive and to have fewer negative side effects than many prescription pain medications.
- Decreasing acceptance of fat-bashing. I believe that this year, we will reach a tipping point, where it will no longer be OK to lecture or to mock people based on weight. Science has confirmed what many have already figured out: That being overweight is neither deadly nor is it an act of personal irresponsibility. There is a move to stop beating up on ourselves for a cookie. As a friend of mine tells me, “It is food, not genocide.” Best of all, we now have wonderful websites like My Body Gallery to help women see themselves as others see them, not as their internalized weight fascist tells them they look.
- The growing social disinterest in hate-speech. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are going the way of the Lawrence Welk Show, and I look forward to a year in which the hate merchants are going out of business.
- A rising international women’s movement. The wonderful thing that has come out of the tragic New Delhi gang rape is that women have taken to the streets in protest, declaring that they are no longer willing to continue the status quo. Worldwide, women who have been slaves by virtue of their gender are demanding their emancipation, and we as western feminists have a wonderful opportunity to offer them moral, emotional, financial, and practical support.
Of course, I am not so naive as to believe that all of these things will continue steady improvement. Some might fail. But on the other hand, we may see advances I never could have imagined. If there is one thing that I have learned from watching the History Channel, humanity is on a trajectory toward justice, human rights, and a better society. Occasionally, this momentum stalls, and there are years or even centuries when it seems we go backwards. But in the end, we are improving, and I look forward to seeing how we, our society, and our daily lives change and improve in 2013.