This was a long time ago. I was 22.

I worked in an open concept office, with a few dozen other people. There was a guy in his 50s named Steve, who had covered the walls of his cubicle with photographs of women in bikinis. They were a regular feature in the local paper; they were called Sunshine Girls. Steve would cut them out of the paper and pin them up on his walls.

We had our meetings in the open area and depending where you sat, sometimes you’d end up looking directly at the Sunshine Girls. It was ridiculous. We’d be having a meeting about something important, and in the background there’d be a sexy lady in a polka-dot bikini grinning at you. 

It felt deflating to be honest. You’d be dressed professionally and feeling good about yourself, and it was like being constantly reminded that to some people, you were really just for sex. It felt unkind.

Eventually we complained to our union rep. Steve was not a bad guy, we said, just kind of a dinosaur. But still, we wanted the pictures gone. 

Our rep was great. He totally agreed with us, and the next morning all the pictures had come down. It was almost like people had been waiting for a complaint. I felt good about the whole thing.

Today though, I feel differently. 

In 2015 I was watching the hearings when Brett Kavanaugh was being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Christine Blasey Ford was testifying about what he’d done to her. 

Afterwards I was talking about it with some younger women I know. And they were super-dismissive about Kavanaugh, basically saying he was terrible and they couldn’t wait for men like him to die off. 

Kavanaugh was 53. Steve had been roughly the same age. Except Steve was 35 years earlier.

It makes me wonder how long women have been looking forward to the death of the dinosaurs. 

We still get sexually harassed every day. We still make less money than men. It’s still incredibly hard for us to get promoted, to be taken seriously, to even be listened to at work. 

It makes me wonder who benefits from the idea that progress is inevitable and things are always getting better. I don’t think it’s us.