The year 2013 was a heck of a year for feminism. Because we're often primed to focus on how far we've got to go, I wanted to give us a reason to celebrate how far we've come. We've had some amazing victories this year, so let's take a minute to soak it all in and celebrate the greatest moments! Check out our conversation on MSNBC in the clip below!
After one of her superiors threatened to fire her if she didn't slim down, Jennifer Lawrence was pretty angry. She told Harper's Bazaar UK that "If anybody even tries to whisper the word 'diet,' I’m like, 'You can go f**k yourself.'" This inspired young women across the country to do the same thing.
If J-Law can do it, why can't we?
A lot has been said about Robin Thicke and most of it hasn't been very nice. After he produced one of the most offensive music videos of all time, he became an easy target for the feminist community. The song sparked an important conversation around rape culture and consent, but it didn't stop there. The popularity of the song launched a slew of memes, imitations, and entertaining feminist parodies. They say imitation is the best form of flattery, right? This was definitely our favorite one.
After Seth McFarlane ruined the Oscars and made women across the country check their clocks to make sure the year was 2013 and not 1962, the world really needed someone to host an award show without saying the word "boobs" 17 times. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler came in like a breath of feminist fresh air, and they were so successful that they were immediately booked for the next two Golden Globes, proving once and for all that anyone who still believes women aren't funny is completely crazy.
In an interview with Vogue UK this May, the star said, "I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I'm just a woman and I love being a woman." Shortly after this article was published, Beyoncé also officially made Christmas come 12 days earlier and released her self-titled visual album. It's now the fastest selling album in Itunes' history.
When a female reporter asked Mallika Sherawat to defend her comment that India is "regressive and depressive," she ripped her apart. "As a woman, I should lie about the state of women that's in our country?" the actress replied. When the reporter wouldn't give it up, the Bollywood actress just started dropping knowledge: "With female feticide, infanticide happening on an almost daily basis; with gang rapes making the headlines of almost every newspaper; with honor killings …" Her response came only a few weeks after the head of India's Central Bureau of Investigation said if rape can't be prevented, it should be enjoyed.
After the fatal, brutal gang rape of a student caused international uproar and mass protests, the Indian government took drastic action. On March 19, the parliament passed an anti-rape bill that doubled the punishment for rapists. "Under the changes, the minimum sentence for gang rape, rape of a minor, rape by policemen or a person in authority will be doubled to 20 years and can be extended to life without parole," BBC reported.
This set the stage for a global conversation about sexual assault and the persistence of rape culture across borders.
Who knew feminism has so much viral potential? For decades, we've been targeting women and girls with pink princess junk, but as it turns out, telling females they can be anything can also work! When the good folks at GoldieBlox noticed that women only make up 11% of engineers in the world, they decided to reverse that trend. "By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers," a statement on the company's website says. "We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way." Well, I know what to give my niece for Christmas this year!
In an interview with Parade magazine, Mindy Kaling made a brilliant point about the assumptions we make about women. "I always get asked, 'Where do you get your confidence?' I think people are well meaning, but it's pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, 'You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You're not skinny, you're not white, you're a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you're worth anything?'"
Get it, girl.
After Republicans tried to pass an anti-choice abortion bill that would shut down one-third of abortion clinics in Texas, Davis took it upon herself to filibuster the heck out of that law. More than 200,000 people watched the livestream and, at times, Davis' heroics sparked 1,700 tweets a minute using the #StandWithWendy hashtag. The legislation ended up passing over the summer, but Davis has vowed to run for governor and reverse that bill the minute she gets into office.
Slamen was one of the many brave activists who fought the anti-choice battle until the end in Texas this year. Thousands showed up to support Wendy Davis before and following her filibuster. Even after officers banned tampons inside the Texas legislature, these tireless activists stayed loyal to their fight. Without these people, there would be no filibuster. Without these people, there would be no pro-choice movement.
During a press conference in March promoting The Sound of Change Live, John Legend became the women's studies professor you wish you had in college. He not only identified himself as a feminist, but turned a reporter's question on its head and asked why any man wouldn't consider himself a feminist too.
"All men should be feminists. If men care about women's rights the world will be a better place [...] We are better off when women are empowered — it leads to a better society."
Well that was unexpected.
Although the actress was totally robbed from her award (Where's Kanye when you need him?), and it's shocking that it took such a long time to see another black woman star in her own drama, Washington's nomination was celebrated as a huge step forward. Let's just hope we don't have to wait almost two decades for the next woman of color to be nominated.
There were a lot of responses to Abercombie and Fitch's CEO's god-awful discriminatory policy against plus-size women, but Ellen's takedown was the best by far. In addition to coining the awesome phrase "Fitch Please," she also made sure to point out that "Beauty is not between a size 0 and a size 8. It is not a number at all." Oh, Ellen. Looking forward to more amazing takedowns in 2014! Watch out, douchebag CEOs.
On July 12, Malala Yousafzai celebrated her 16th birthday by delivering her first speech since she survived a bullet to the head by the Taliban. Her words inspired millions around the world, especially after she made some enlightening feminist statements like, "We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back."
On June 26, America took a huge step towards justice and equality by striking down two discriminatory laws that severely limited the rights of LGBT people. Gay people celebrated by getting engaged on the steps of the Supreme Court, while straight people took this opportunity to day-drink and watch Will and Grace marathons.
This parody video created by All India Bakchod went viral around the world for its honest look at the worst persisting stereotypes about sexual assault. It features women using humor and sarcasm to point out the absurdities of rape culture. Given that a recent United Nations report found that two women are raped every hour in India, this video couldn't come at a better time. Its reception was positive. The filmmakers told Al Jazeera that within a couple of days, they were already flooded with requests to translate the video into Hindi in order to reach a wider audience.
While speaking to Evan Smith at the 2013 Texas Tribune festival back in September, Anita Perry made a statement that took many by surprise. After she made a pretty obvious pro-choice argument, her interviewer said, "Mrs. Perry, I want to be sure you didn't just inadvertently make news. Are you saying that you believe abortion is a woman's right, to make that choice?"
"Yeah," she answered. "That could be a woman's right. Just like it's a man's right if he wants to have some kind of procedure. But I don't agree with it, and that's not my view," she replied.
During an appearance on Fox's Sean Hannity Show, Zerlina Maxwell was invited to speak about guns, rape, and violence. As a rape survivor, she had a lot of notable reasons to shame conservatives who believe the solution to ending rape resides in giving out more guns.
"I think the entire conversation is wrong. I don't want anybody to be telling women anything. I don't want women — I don't want men to be telling me what to wear, how to act, not to drink. And I don't, honestly, want you to tell me that I need a gun in order to prevent my rape," she said during her appearance.
After the segment, she was attacked with a slew of racist online rape and death threats, but still managed to keep her cool. She's a troll pulveriser and if you try and mess with her, you should watch out.
Hosted by Sarah Silverman and Lizzie Winstead, this three-hour telethon was a treat to attend and watch. It featured celebrities like Amy Schumer and Jemima Kirke teaming up with pro-choice activists like NARAL's Ilyse Hogue and NYAAF's Alison Turkos. It raised a heck of a lot of money and sent a powerful message to Texas lawmakers: If you mess with Texas, you're messing with all of us.
During the oh-so-annoying government shutdown in October, Elizabeth Warren took it upon herself to say what we were all thinking about politicians who were more motivated by brinkmanship rather than the American people. The 16-day shutdown ended up costing our economy $24 billion, and made women and children particularly vulnerable. According to political analysts, it's men who got us into the shutdown, while women got us out of it. A group of female senators that includes Elizabeth Warren was crucial in striking the final deal that brought both sides together. Like many other of her memorable speeches, Warren's speech on the Senate floor shaming Republicans responsible for the political crisis went viral.
In this highly anticipated event, the two prominent feminist thinkers talked about the growing distance between black women and black men, how shame produces trauma, and the persisting stereotypes of the "black angry woman." The conversation took place on the afternoon of Nov. 8 and was watched by thousands of women and men across the country.
After a Jacksonville mother of three was condemned to 20 years in prison for shooting a warning shot in her ceiling during a conflict with her abusive partner, protests erupted across the country. The case gained national attention when George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing an unarmed African-American teenage boy on July 14 using Stand Your Ground as a defense.
Marissa Alexander wasn't allowed to use the law to defend her actions. Critics blamed racial discrimination in the court system for the judge's decision. Her sentence has now been overturned and she's been released from jail, where she'll be awaiting her new trial.
When asked about the organization's decision, Wilson Cruz, the spokesperson for GLAAD, told Melissa-Harris Perry that their fight must include transgender people. "It is a natural progression that reflects the work GLAAD's staff is already leading [...] We respect and honor the full name that the organization was founded with, but GLAAD's work has expanded beyond fighting defamation to changing the culture. Our commitment to marriage equality, employment nondiscrimination, and other LGBT issues is stronger than ever, and now our name reflects our work on transgender issues as well as our work with allies."
This advertisement, brought to you by Hello Flo, a company that delivers care packages to women on their periods, blew up faster than any commercial in the history of female hygienic products. In the video, a spunky 12-year-old describes her excitement after getting her first period and calls the packages "like Santa, for your vagina!" The clip coined the term "red badge of courage" and made us all wish we had seen an ad like this when we were kids.
Back in May, we finally started having a conversation about Facebook's very evident woman problem thanks to a powerful campaign launched by activists Soraya Chemely, Women, Action & the Media's Jaclyn Friedman, and Everyday Sexism Project's Laura Bates. After the women joined forces and wrote an open letter to Facebook asking for it to remove its gender-based hate speech, it went viral and so did their petition. The letter was co-signed by Equality Now, Hollaback!, Fem 2.0 and many other women's organizations. Seeing the potential damage this could do to the company's brand, Facebook issued an official response. In it, the company recognizes that "systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work" and vowed to correct the problem. This was hailed as a huge feminist victory.
Orange is the New Black, a groundbreaking show that premiered in July, was hailed as first-of-its-kind for numerous reasons. It features a huge cast of women who are as complex as they are diverse. There are a lot of reasons to love this show, but our favorite is Laverne Cox, who is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream, scripted television show. The show returns again in January, and we are all pumped!
The writer, feminist and co-founder of Ms Magazine has been fighting for equality for more than four decades. She received her award in November at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The activist just so happens to be the first woman to have ever spoken at the Club back in 1971. When she accepted her medal, she said it "was a medal for the entire women’s movement." Oprah Winfrey and Dolores Huerta's invaluable contributions were also highlighted by the president. The three women received the award along with 14 other honorees.
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