The 39 Most Iconic Feminist Moments of 2014*

Amy Poehler feminism


“If you look up feminism in the dictionary, it just means that men and women have equal rights. And I feel like everyone here believes men and women have equal rights. But I think the reason people don’t clap is that word is so weirdly used in our culture.” ~ Aziz Ansari, on Late Show with David Letterman (October 2014)

I’ve been saving this for an end of the year post, but, well, life . . . so now it’s a beginning of the year post. I’m only listing a selection of the ones I liked the most. Enjoy.

from mic.com (*click link to see full list)

by Elizabeth Plank

In 1998, Time magazine declared feminism dead. Nearly 15 years later, it wondered if instead, perhaps feminism should be banned. Constantly on attack from all sides, feminism has spent the past few decades proving its importance and relevance over and over and over again. If there’s one thing history has taught us, it’s that the backlash against feminism will always be a measure of our success. That’s the thing with progress — it is perceived as a threat by those too weak to embrace it.Indeed, it’s clear 2014 was a historic one for feminism. Women stood up for their rights, challenged stereotypes, fought for recognition and took control of the dialogue. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the most iconic feminist moments this year:

1. Malala Yousafzai accepted the Nobel Peace Prize — and went straight back to chemistry class.

The Nobel Peace Prize is “not going to help in exams” Yousafzai joked to reporters after becoming the youngest person to win the award. In addition to advocating against violence, poverty and advocating for more access to education for women and girls, the 17-year-old activist has become a symbol of hope and proof that feminism really does have the power to change the world.

2. Mo’ne Davis made everyone want to “throw like a girl.”

When the 13-year-old Davis led her team to the Little League World Series, it’s safe to say she captivated the nation. Poised and confident, Davis was an instant role model for millions of little girls — and boys — and also was the first Little Leaguer to grace a Sports Illustrated cover.

3. Emma Watson stunned the U.N.

We knew Watson was destined for big things as soon as the U.N. named her as an official Goodwill Ambassador, but we had no idea how much of an impact she would have — and so soon — until she gave a speech highlighting the importance of gender equality and feminism. Although some feminists were disgruntled by a perceived lack of acknowledgment by the star of her own privilege, her public defense of feminism certainly started a conversation, sending the message that feminism is important and should be embraced by both men and women.

4. A survivor brought her mattress — and sparked a national movement.

Frustrated by what she saw as an unacceptable response from school officials to her alleged sexual assault, Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz took matters into her own hands. As part of her senior performance art project, Sulkowicz announced she would carry her mattress everywhere she went until her alleged rapist was expelled.

It didn’t take long for others to notice, eventually sparking a national day of protest culminating in 28 mattresses being dropped in front of the office of Lee Bollinger, the university president, in a dramatic show of solidarity.

5. Jennifer Lawrence beat the Internet’s worst trolls at their own game.

It’s no coincidence the 4chan celebrity nude scandal targeted almost exclusively female celebrities. Culturally, we still view women’s sexuality as inherently shameful, making the exploitation of said sexuality one of the most effective ways we have to try to put women down. Lawrence, however, is far too strong a woman to be shamed by a few cowardly trolls hiding behind the anonymous cloak of the dark net.

She told Vanity Fair that those who attempt to denigrate women for taking intimate photos are the ones who should be ashamed. “I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for,” she said. Amen to that.

6. Women stormed the halls of Congress.

The 2014 midterm election may have been a “shellacking” for Democrats, but it also saw victories by a new wave of women, on both sides of the political aisle, ultimately increasing the ratio of female representatives greatly. A record 100 women will serve in the 114th Congress, and that’s something we should all celebrate.

7. A bro tried to defend catcalling on TV — and was totally shut down.

Although it’s rare to hear anyone describe a crime like harassment as a “compliment,” it’s always shocking to hear a man on television think he can get away with telling women how they should or should not feel about it. Amanda Seales did not take kindly to Steve Santagati’s suggestion that women should be thankful for the attention during a debate. From now on, every reaction to mansplaining will forever be judged against the flawless takedown that resulted.

9. Laverne Cox didn’t break barriers, she crushed them.

Laverne Cox, in addition to being an incredibly talented actress, has spent the past year helping to open doors for her transgender brothers and sisters. Some of her firsts included being the first openly transgender woman to garner an Emmy nomination for her role as Sophia Burset in Orange Is the New Black, a rare, realistic portrayal of a transgender woman in mainstream pop culture. Cox also graced the cover of Time magazine, shining a brilliant light on the talent of trans individuals and the growing strength of the transgender rights movement.

10. Taylor Swift had a feminist epiphany. 

After years of comments to the contrary, the superstar entertainer finally came out of the gender equality closet this year, confiding to the Guardian that she was a feminist all along (knew it)! Swift then set about proving her commitment to the movement, releasing a video for her single “Blank Space” that was described as a “dystopian feminist fairy tale.”

Indeed, over the span of only a couple months, Swift has been on something of a feminist tear, disproving stereotypes about feminists, calling out the music industry’s trivialization of women artists and giving thanks for the invaluable role of female friendships in her life. Oh, and can we talk about that VMA performance?

11. #YesAllWomen reached almost 2 million tweets in under four days.

Not all men assault, rape and harm women, but #YesAllWomen have to deal with the threat of being hurt every day. That was the rallying cry behind what may be the most viral feminist hashtag of all time. Born out of the tragedy that took place in Santa Barbara, California, it was an opportunity for women to speak openly  about the injustices that plague their lives. At one point, the hashtag trended more than Kim Kardashian’s wedding, proof that the conversation was long overdue and resonated with many.

Thanks to #YesAllWomen, the conversation about the shooting was seen through a gendered lens, something that the media has been reluctant to do for far too long.

13. Beyoncé danced in front of the world — and a gigantic feminist banner.Remember the bizarre spectacle that was last year’s VMAs? For all those wondering if they would ever get Robin Thicke’s gyrations out of their nightmares, Beyoncé’s 16-minute performance was quite literally a sight for sore eyes. The world’s biggest diva proved feminism wasn’t just accessible, it was cool. As Time remarked, the entire show was about women’s empowerment. From Swift’s lively performance with exclusively male backup dancers to Nicki Minaj’s assertive “Anaconda,” the performances gave many of us hope for a future music industry that respects and highlights its female talent.

15. Lupita Nyong’o forced Hollywood to take blackness seriously.After becoming only the fifth black woman to receive a best supporting actress award for her role in 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o set off on a whirlwind awards tour, earning a Glamour Woman of the Year honor and the Essence magazine Black Woman in Hollywood Breakthrough Award. Proving that she was as brilliant as she was beautiful, Nyong’o’s speech on body image and blackness was deeply moving.

“I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful,” she told the Essence audience. “I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin.” The path to self-acceptance is hard, she noted, but finally coming to terms with the idea that beauty comes in many shades has changed her life.

24. Crafty crafters did amazing things in Hobby Lobby stores.

After the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby’s favor, effectively allowing the crafting giant to stop providing birth control in female employees’ insurance packages, clever and crafty feminists took to the aisles, expressing their frustration via pro-woman messages left in stores across the nation. The best part? Male customers also got in the fun. It’s good to know that you don’t have to be a lady to appreciate the responsibility of for-profit corporations to provide comprehensive contraceptive care.

30. The MTA took a stand against “man-spreading.”

In an encouraging move, New York transit announced in the fall it was beginning a campaign to combat the amount of space some men take up in public. The problem, sometimes known as “man-spreading,” “lava balls” or “subway sprawl,” will be tackled through awareness programs the MTA is planning to roll out in January 2015. While women may miss witty feminist Tumblrs like Your Balls Aren’t That Big, we certainly won’t miss having to deal with men’s wide-legged dominance on a daily basis.

34. Feminists finally got us talking about Bill Cosby.

Allegations against Cosby have been around for years, but for some reason (ahem, misogyny), the mainstream media took a while to actually star caring about it. But that all changed after comedian Hannibal Buress’ routine woke the not-so-sleeping giant of the feminist network.

Overnight, activists left the media no choice but to pay attention, a movement solidified after savvy Internet users hijacked a promotional chat, R. Kelly style. In the wake of this outpouring of support, even more women have come forward to tell their own stories of alleged abuse at the hands of the venerable comedian.

 

“Yesterday was blue, like smoke.” ~ Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Tree in Field before the Storm (Pixdaus)

                   

“That is why the bird sings its songs into the world as though it were singing into its inner self, that’s why we take a birdsong into our own inner selves so easily, it seems to us that we translate it fully, with no remainder, into our feelings; a birdsong can even, for a moment, make the whole world into a sky within us, because we feel that the bird does not distinguish between its heart and the world’s.” ~ Rainer Marie Rilke, “Notes on Birds”

Friday evening. Warm, not too humid. Possibility of storms.

Field Storm by Maria (Pixdaus)

Last night I dreamed of a vast field, green and yellow and a storm approaching from the distance.

Today I spent the longest time in the pool so far this season. Tillie and Shakes joined me, which meant that splashing ensued, but it was still quite peaceful. Everyone else was in the house, so it was just me, the dogs, and lots of birds. It’s nice when it’s just the dogs because when I fall off the raft or talk to myself about my belly, they just look and listen as if I’m talking about cookies.

The mockingbirds are back. As I floated, I watched two small mockingbirds attack a much larger crow. I love mockingbirds, not just for their songs, but also for their fearlessness. They are the rebel songbirds; I like that about them.

The blue sky was dotted with puffy cumulus clouds, and thankfully, no leaf blowers or chain saws were in earshot, so overall, it was a peaceful few hours, except for the hole in my raft. I bought two rafts at the discount store, and one has a hole in it already—it’s never been used. You get what you pay for, I suppose, but these will have to do for now.

As a result, I got the beginnings of a nice tan on my front, and nothing on my back. I’m not too fussed about it, though. It’s not as if anyone ever sees me.

“Has it ever struck you . . . that life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going? It’s really all memory . . . except for each passing moment.” ~ Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

Flight Before the Storm (Pixdaus)

Well, I had two doctors’ appointments this week. Have you ever had one of those doctors who just loves to do tests? My gastro guy has turned into one of those. He wasn’t always like that. We talked about the results from my last two tests, which essentially show the same things—my digestive system is whacked—and then he mentioned another test. I told him that I really didn’t think that it was necessary.

I think that I need to find a new gastro doctor. I mean, now that I’ve been poked and prodded from both ends, perhaps I can find someone who will now discuss treatment options with me instead of talking about more tests and referrals. This particular visit was part of the cause for my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day; that, and more peripheral drama.

My other doctor’s visit was with my PCP, who is also starting to sound like a broken record: It would be nice if we could get you off some of these medications . . .

Really? That never occurred to me. Which ones do you think I can do without? The pain medicine for my back? The cholesterol medicine? The headache medicine?

Exactly.

So she sent me to the lab to have more vials of my life blood sucked out, and I’m certain that she will not be happy with the results because I have yet to begin my exercise regimen. I know. I know. I really do need to at least walk, but it’s mighty hard to steel the self for three or four miles when the vision is impaired from squinting as a result of the jack hammer that is at work on the skull.

Just saying . . .

“I thought how true it was that the world was a delightful place if it were not for the people, and how more than true it was that people were not worth troubling about . . .” ~ Katherine Mansfield, Violet

Red Stormy Skies (Pixdaus)

The ongoing drama at my house is not really something that I feel comfortable talking about as it does not directly involve me. Rather, Corey and I are on the periphery of events that are unfolding, and our role is pretty much relegated to support. I’m fine with this, especially in this particular situation.

I’ve been pondering the concept of people in the past few days. You might find that a bit odd, but not really. I mean, so many people come and go in our lives, and I firmly believe that each person leaves a little something behind, even if it is only a brief memory of an afternoon, or a remembered line from a conversation, or a sense of keen dread when remembering certain individuals.

I will admit that I am one of those people who usually causes one of two reactions in people: either strong dislike or undying loyalty. I’ve wondered what it is about me that causes this, and most probably, it is because I tend to speak my mind. I have found that, especially in a certain types of men, this is not a trait that is welcomed in a woman, which only makes me more vocal.

But at the same time, I know that in the past, I got along better with men than with women. I have found—at least in the workplace—that a group of women always has a very specific dynamic: one of extreme competitiveness, either for real power or perceived power. It’s that whole clique formation thing, perhaps a carryover from high school and the concept of mean girls. I know that it’s one thing that I do not miss at all about working full time.

Women can be absolutely brutal to one another, and that saddens me. It truly does. When I was an undergraduate taking Women’s Studies courses, I remember a lot of discussions about the sociology and psychology of females and the unspoken need to one-up another woman who may or may not be a competitor. As in, for example, the Queen Bee Syndrome: the woman who reaches a position of power who then does everything she can to make sure that no other women get promoted (there is only room at the top for one).

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton

Storm Clouds, South Dakota (Pixdaus)

I know that I’ve talked about these things before in this forum, but when I think back on some of the women I have left by the wayside in my own quest for fire, I am, most certainly, abashed. For example, I remember years ago when I managed the document production department for a government contractor. The art department was particularly troublesome.

The first graphic artist I hired was a seemingly nice woman. What I didn’t realize, even at the time, was that she was so insecure that anyone else I hired had to be willing to be subservient to her.

In my way of apology, it was my first time supervising so many people, and they were all female, until I hired a guy who had been in graduate school with me to work as an editor. Anyway, the senior graphic artist took a strong dislike to another artist I hired, and as a result, she (the first) took every opportunity to plant little tidbits of doubt in my ear. I was just naive enough to fall for it, and the end result was that the second graphic artist lost her job.

Now in my defense, she was habitually late and/or absent, so that was reason enough, but I never should have fallen prey to the constant brainwashing that X was really a terrible person, a bad artist, unproductive, ya da ya da ya da . . .

My point is this: I was stupid. The woman who reveled in spreading seeds of discontent was insecure, petty, and immature, and as a result, everyone lost.

“What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.” ~Sylvia Plath

Field Before the Storm (Pixdaus)

I would like to think that such things would not happen now. I’m older, wiser, more patient, and less prone to be swayed by idle gossip and venomous rancor. I wish that I had had these traits when I was in my 20’s, but of course, hindsight proves to be the greatest teacher of all. I think back on myself at that time and how certain I was of everything, how unwilling I was to bend for fear it would be seen as weakness.

I love it when young women declare to the world, I am not a feminist. I would never want to be that kind of woman.

What is the old saying? Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too (I’m paraphrasing). So many women of my daughter’s generation view feminists as men-haters, as lesbians, as hairy-arm-pitted radicals.

If only they knew. I was in the second wave, after the bra-burners. But if not for women like me who did not allow men on the staff to pat my bum or to call me sweetie, women in their 20’s would not have half the gains they have in the workplace. Fifty-one percent of the population is female. The number of women on corporate letterhead is still growing.

Women are in politics, in the boardroom, in private practice; they are partners in prestigious firms, and they are chief of staff. No longer are women in the service confined to bedpans and bandages. They can fly fighter jets.

At the same time, feminism is all about choices: those women who choose to stay home and raise their children, those women who choose not to get married, those women who choose to have careers and families. And all of this is because of the radicals of the 60’s and early 70’s, and those of us who came after and picked up the baton.

“’How does distance look?’ is a simple direct question. It extends from a spaceless
within to the edge
of what can be loved. It depends on light.” ~ Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red

Storm Clouds Over the Canola Field

I remember that sometimes it really did feel as if we were fighting in the trenches, with our power suits, pumps and briefcases. Take us seriously—the unwritten banner across our chests.

I remember the male general manager who did not want to promote a woman on staff because he did not like her laugh. I remember the male executive who asked me to microwave his lunch. I remember the teacher who told me that I should seriously consider a career in politics. I remember wondering if it would ever get better.

It did. And I did.

What seemed so far in the distance to me when I was just beginning my career is no longer unattainable simply because of gender. Yet for all of it, women still seem to be hardest on other women, and I’m not talking about in the insane vernacular of real housewives women. For every male who stood in my way in the workplace, there was a female who did the same.

I wonder if it will always be that way. I wonder if that is an American socialization thing, or if it spreads throughout countries all over the world.

Curious.

The computer is beginning to misbehave, and I haven’t even inserted my graphics yet, so let me close with this: A man asked Cher is she wasn’t a bit old to still be rocking. Cher replied, “You’d better ask Mick Jagger.”

More later. Peace.

Music by Grace Griffith, “My Life.” (Thanks, Leah in NC)

                   

When I Am Asked

When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.
It was soon after my mother died,
a brilliant June day,
everything blooming.

I sat on a gray stone bench
in a lovingly planted garden,
but the day lilies were as deaf
as the ears of drunken sleepers
and the roses curved inward.
Nothing was black or broken
and not a leaf fell
and the sun blared endless commercials
for summer holidays.

I sat on a gray stone bench
ringed with the ingenue faces
of pink and white impatiens
and placed my grief
in the mouth of language,
the only thing that would grieve with me.

~ Lisel Mueller