Who are the most inspirational feminists of the 21st century?
In putting together a list of five inspirational women who have in some way helped or encouraged feminism through their work, I looked for those who didn’t necessarily fit the stereotypical idea of a feminist, largely because the stereotypical idea of a feminist doesn’t accurately portray the goals of the movement.
To me, the true core of the feminist movement is the desire to create a more equitable world; a world in which there are no limits placed on achievement based on one’s gender. These women have encompassed this in their work, and in doing so have inspired our generation (Note: This list is in no particular order.):
1. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series: With Harry Potter’s success, Rowling effectively killed the idea that female fantasy writers can’t be accomplished or make money off their work. In addition, the wizarding world of Harry Potter is one in which the sexes have equal opportunities in education, their careers, and even in sports (Quidditch is a professional sport in the series with male and female players), and some of the most influential and inspiring characters are women. Though her work is fictional, it challenges us to create a more fair and equal world in which both sexes can achieve their goals and be influential.
2. Jill Abramson, Editor in Chief of the New York Times: Jill Abramson is the first female Editor in Chief of the New York Times as of September 2011, replacing former editor Bill Keller. Though Abramson has always been a professional, unbiased reporter, she has never rejected or forgotten the importance of gender equality. She has worked to better the position of women in writing, notably by helping to break the glass ceiling in journalism and by setting a standard for female reporters – never deny one’s gender, and don’t let others use it to restrict personal achievement.
3. Kristen Wiig, comedienne and actress: Wiig is best known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and for her recent blockbuster hit "Bridesmaids." Wiig has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that women are just as funny and creative as men and has often defended women in entertainment, stating that women have been and still are an essential part of comedy. Wiig has certainly helped to level the playing field, and has inspired both women and men to collaborate with their co-workers to create the best possible product.
4. Lilly Ledbetter, activist: Lilly Ledbetter is, in my opinion, a jewel of the south. A resident of Jacksonville, Alabama and overnight supervisor at Goodyear Tire Company, Ledbetter became a household name when she sued the company after realizing she was being paid less than her male coworkers. Her case eventually reached the Supreme Court, and in 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed to ensure equal pay for equal work. Ledbetter not only ensured that all future female workers would be paid equal pay for equal work, but also proved that anyone can beat discrimination if they work hard enough.
5. Jessica Valenti, blogger, author, activist: How could anyone write a list about the advancement of feminism and not include Jessica Valenti? Valenti is the author of numerous books, including Full Frontal Feminism and founded the popular blog Feministing in 2004. She is credited with being a pioneer of the feminist movement in the 21st century as she shifted the movement online to blogs and discussion groups, which helped to better educate the public on women’s issues. Valenti’s dedication and desire to educate others about the importance of equality is inspirational on its own, and without her guidance, feminism today wouldn’t be the same.
Of course, this list is subjective and doesn’t include every important feminist of our time, but each of these women have made significant contributions to the movement and deserve recognition for their work to end discrimination and promote equality.
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