Let’s just say it: 2015 was a rough year plagued by one awful news cycle after another. But the best part of the new year is getting to start over and ditch what isn't working. Here are a few societal issues we would happily leave in 2015.
1. Decreasing Access to Reproductive Healthcare
2015 saw rollbacks in access to abortions in many states, following 2014’s awful year for women’s health. Denying women medical care is repugnant, and it’s not working. Instead, here’s what does work: easily accessible birth control. It lowers the rates of unwanted pregnancies, which lowers the rates of abortion (and next time anyone tries to tell you that birth control is a women’s issue, make sure they realize it’s actually an economic issue that affects everyone). On the other hand, restricting abortion access means women opt for DIY procedures, which can be extremely dangerous. If you want to help women, give them the medical care they need.
2. Calling Grown Women “Girls”
Referring to adult women as “girls” is condescending and infantilizing — and we never do the same thing to men (have you ever heard of a “business boy”?). Note that the only acceptable use of “boy” when referring to a job carried out by a human male is “ballboy,” and that person is a literal boy, not a fully grown human.
3. Abysmal Parental Leave
Not only is the United States way behind the rest of the industrialized world when it comes to maternity leave, but the companies here that can afford to support their employees opt out more often than not. FMLA is not nearly enough; politicians (looking at you, Carly Fiorina) are coming out against paid leave; and parents are left to decide between parenting and their careers. Nope.
4. Not Enough Support for Rape Survivors
Between lost wages, derailed education, costs of a civil suit when criminal courts fail, and the cost of relocation, it’s estimated that the average cost of being a rape victim is $110,000. No wonder rape is staggeringly underreported — survivors are financially punished for coming forward. This has to stop.
5. Interviewing Powerful Women Like They’re Celebrities
I swear to God, if one more reporter asks a CEO or politician about her dress size, designer preference, hair choices, or how she “has it all,” I’m going to Hulk my way out of this pantsuit and start smashing everything in sight.
6. A System That Makes Balance Impossible
Do you feel like you’re constantly being told to find balance, but it’s completely beyond your reach? It’s not your fault: Our work system isn’t structured to foster balance — in fact, it’s the opposite. Between valuing hours worked over quality, a lack of support for parents, and leaders disconnected from their employees, balance is presently a pipe dream.
7. Rampant, Dangerous Discrimination Against Transgender People
It is perfectly legal in 32 states to fire a person based on their gender identity. Trans people are almost four times as likely as cisgender people to earn below $10,000 per year (and this number gets much worse for trans people of color). One in five trans people have been homeless. In most states, there’s no guarantee that medically necessary procedures will be covered by insurance. And the staggering rate of violence against the trans population has reached crisis level. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the discrimination faced by trans people, and changes are necessary, right now.
8. Holding Out for a Retirement That Doesn’t Exist
Get a job, put money into your 401(k) or IRA, and cash out when you hit 65, right? Wrong. We’ve been sold a false dream for retirement — one that’s not attainable given the current savings options available to most people. At some point, we need to accept that retirement simply looks much different from the version we’re used to, and we need to get prepared.