I started the year married, at home with my seven children, in line for an appointment to a judicial committee and gearing up for a successful private law practice working for myself.
I ended the year divorced, juggling seven children, with my young children in full-day preschool, working full-time, no judicial committee, no self-employment, dream job and political aspirations slowly slipping away. There’s nothing like seeing your life flash in front of you when little of it matches up with what you thought you wanted.
But don’t feel sorry for me.
When a woman finally takes control of her life, there is power. There is also safety and peace. That’s not to say that every woman doesn’t have control of her life. Or that every woman who takes control of her life needs to get a divorce. Because obviously it would be far better if more marriages could remain intact.
But life is messy, whether you plan for it or not. And that is what I learned in 2017.
The most significant event in 2017 was the #MeToo movement because it empowered women. With more women empowered, what might we accomplish in 2018? Let’s imagine.
Sen. Orrin Hatch might run for re-election again in 2018. He would be 90 at the end of another term. He ran in 2012 on the promise that the campaign would be his last.
Imagine a woman who runs, and successfully wins, in a primary election against Hatch. Jenny Wilson will likely be the Democratic candidate for senator. Imagine a Utah that hosts, for the first time ever, a senate election between two competent and qualified women.
Allegations of sexual harassment at the Justice Department have increased over the last five years. The Washington Post reported that “some perpetrators were given little discipline or even later rewarded with bonuses or performance awards.” Imagine a world where female victims of workplace sexual harassment demanded actual punishment for their harassers. Imagine a world where female supervisors insisted on real accountability.
Imagine if Republican women in the state Legislature pick up the memory of former House Speaker Becky Lockhart and demand representation in Republican legislative leadership.
Imagine if Democratic women in the state Legislature increase their efforts to join with forward-thinking Republican legislators to pass legislation that protects women in the workplace, like maternity leave for state employees or incentives for better corporate family leave policies.
A recent article extolled the virtues of Utah companies that have committed to interview one woman for open board and executive positions. One. A separate article postulated that when a company interviews one woman for such positions, she has exactly zero chance of being hired.
Imagine a Utah where companies institute policies and practices to interview two or three women and minority candidates for every open board and executive position.
There has been a lot of recent conjecture about who will run for governor in 2020. Imagine if Utah politicians committed to diversify their campaign management teams. Imagine a female gubernatorial candidate. Or imagine a male candidate who insisted on a female running mate? Republican Jonathan Johnson chose a woman to run with him in 2016 and received little credit for it.
Imagine senators from Utah who nominate women to Utah’s federal bench.
Most importantly, imagine our girls in elementary school, junior high or even high school who grow up in a Utah with women in positions of power and influence. How will their lives be different?
Keith Urban has a new song out on country music radio stations called “Female.” Its lyrics, especially its chorus, encapsulates a perfect end to 2017, and a new beginning for 2018.
“When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl How does that hit you? Is that such a bad thing?
“When somebody laughs and implies that she asked for it, just ’cause she was wearing a skirt, oh is that how it works?
“Sister, shoulder, daughter, lover, healer, broken halo, mother nature, fire, suit of armor, soul survivor, holy water, secret keeper, fortune teller, virgin Mary, scarlet letter, technicolor, river wild, baby girl, women shine, female.
“She’s the heart of life, she’s the dreamer’s dream, she’s the hands of time, she’s the queen of kings.”
Girl power, ladies.
Michelle Quist is an editorial writer for the Salt Lake Tribune who has hope that 2018 will be the Year of the Woman.