The news of the past couple of months, that is, reports of sexual harassment and abuse of women has seemingly caught some people off guard. (I’m not sure if it would be helpful or not to say, “This has been going on for millennia,” so I won’t say it!) Powerful men in business, athletics, entertainment, and politics—politics at every level—have been exposed. Some have even admitted and bragged about their behavior.
This Sunday is Human Rights Day. The date goes back to 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations. The phrase “women’s rights are human rights” gained momentum in the 1980s and became well-known after Hillary Clinton’s 1995 speech in Beijing.
As we’ve seen, Time magazine’s Person of the Year is (are?) The Silence Breakers, associated with the #MeToo movement. These are women from every part of society, from superstars in acting and music to migrant workers. No woman is immune from mistreatment. Thankfully, many men have stood up and taken their place, brothers speaking out for their sisters.
Of course, we aren’t without trailblazers. In the gospel of St. John, Jesus is having a discussion with a Samaritan woman at a well. His disciples arrive, and we’re told, “They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman” (4:27).