Contributed on by Magdalene Bedi, Chelsea Cirruzzo, Delaney Ratsky, and Kelsey Ferrera.
2016 was a big year for feminists. Women dominated the political stage, sports at the Olympics, their media representation and more. While they are still battles to be fought and won, we’re proud to highlight some of these top feminist moments from 2016. See which ones our staff liked best:
Women take gold at the Olympics
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, women broke records and kicked butt. For American women, 61 medals were won in all. Amongst the women who shined during the Olympics was Simone Biles, of the American gymnastics team, who set a record for most gold medals won in women’s gymnastics at a single Games, Simone Manuel, who was the first African-American woman to win Olympic gold in swimming, Katie Ledecky, who beat her own records, track runners Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino, who helped one another to the finish line, Fu Yuanhui, who spoke openly about menstruation, Ibtihaj Muhammad, who wore her hijab during fencing, and more.
Hillary Clinton’s nomination
After July’s Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to lead the presidential ticket of a major party. This nomination came after a long political career, including acting as Secretary of State under the Obama administration, advocating for women and children with the Children’s Defense Fund, acting as a U.S. Senator and more. While Ms. Clinton didn’t end up winning the presidential election, we will always be proud of her many accomplishments.
Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated
This was a big deal for our social media director Delaney. In her words: Sports Illustrated is known for being a sexist magazine. After all, their covers usually contain women in skimpy bikinis for the sexual appeal of it rather than for athletic reasons. However this year, they had a plus size model, Ashley Graham, on their cover. More plus size models have been taking the industry by storm and I love that. It is important for people to see real bodies in the media. It may be a small thing, but shows how plus size fashion models are becoming more common and that you don’t need to be thin to be beautiful.
Harriet Tubman to appear on the $20
Harriet Tubman, a famous African-American abolitionist, will soon grace the front of $20 while Andrew Jackson will move to the back of the bill. Tubman certainly deserves this honor, as a former slave who escaped to freedom and helped countless others do so as well. Tubman was very active during the Civil War as she assisted in the Underground Railroad while also working as a nurse and a spy for the North. However, it’s important to note that the process of putting Tubman on the $20 is very slow, and we will not be able to it completed for another three years.
Proving that 2016 was not a completely garbage year, Beyonce released the album Lemonade. This visual masterpiece is a 56-minute-long journey of strength and empowerment that is aimed specifically at women of color. The album itself is divided into different sections which are given powerful titles like “Denial,” “Apathy,” and “Forgiveness.” In its entirety, the album shows the journey from isolation to forgiveness and hope. Along this journey, the audience catches glimpses of other famous women of color (including Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg, Michaele DePrince, Winnie Harlow, Quvenzhane Walli, along with the mothers of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner). Beyonce gave us the narrative that we desperately needed in 2016, one of black women uniting with and helping other black women.
More women of color elected to the Senate
While the U.S. didn’t wake up to a female president on Nov. 9th, we did wake up to more incredible women of color in the U.S. Senate. Previously, only one woman of color was in Senate, Mazie Hirono, who is Japanese-American. After election day, that number quadrupled to include Tammy Duckworth, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Kamala Harris. We’re excited to see what they do next. Learn more here.
Michelle Obama’s sexual assault speech
First Lady Michelle Obama made a powerful speech in October, condemning then-presidential candidate Donald Trump for his comments on sexual assault. Her voice shaking, Ms. Obama called Mr. Trump out for his rhetoric, and demanded respect for women and girls. “This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to — Democrat, Republican, independent — no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse,” she said.
A survivor releases a powerful letter in Buzzfeed
In one of the most powerful letters this year, a survivor of sexual violence released her full impact statement to Buzzfeed, against her rapist Brock Turner. While Turner would receive a minimal punishment for his disgusting actions, words of the anonymous survivor would resonate across the United States, reminding other survivors they are not alone and highlighting the terrible aftermath of sexual violence. “Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you.”
Samantha Bee conquers late night television
In an industry typically dominated by men, Samantha Bee made history by bringing intersectional feminism to late night comedy. Her commentary isn’t just funny, it’s poignant. Her insight and her sensitivity prove that a) women are hilarious, b) white women have an important role as allies to women of color, c) glass ceilings are shattering all around us, even if the highest one remains intact.
SCOTUS makes a landmark abortion ruling, protecting southern abortion clinics for low income individuals
Abortions clinics in states like Texas and Mississippi finally found some reprieve in the landmark case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Even though abortion is federally legal, states have attempted to circumvent Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey by applying strict and arbitrary regulations on clinics so that most have been forced to close. In Mississippi, for example, only one clinic remains after the state instituted some of the restrictions that Texas instituted. All of this was done under the justification that women can just travel the several hours to another abortion clinic either out-of-state or elsewhere in the state. However, justice (and feminism) won when the Supreme Court ruled that the provisions that would have closed the last of some of these clinics were too restrictive to be constitutionally legal.