Between assaults on women's reproductive rights, the "We Saw Your Boobs" Oscars and one-too-many Carl's Jr. commercials, one might think that 2013 wasn't such a banner year for the ladies. But in fact, there were plenty of stand-out moments for women.
Here are the 25 of our favorites, in no particular order:
Whether or not you agree with Beyonce's particular brand of feminism, it was pretty exciting to see the pop star grace the cover
of the iconic feminist magazine in May. Remember, it was Queen Bey who proclaimed, "Who run the world? Girls."
We never understood why feminism was a scary word. But it was nice to see numerous celebs, including Claire Danes
, Lena Dunham
, Mara Wilson
and John Legend
"come out" as feminists. Because, really, what's so terrifying about supporting equality of opportunity between the sexes?
OB/GYN Deb Cohan
made us all want to get up and boogie after the video of her pre-mastectomy dance party went viral. She reminded us all to celebrate life, even in the face of great challenges.
Sen. Wendy Davis
, D-Fort Worth, launched a filibuster in June
to try to kill legislation that would drastically curb abortion rights. (The bill eventually passed in a special legislative session). Her 11-hour speech on the Senate floor spawned a hashtag #standwithWendy
and even President Obama weighed in
, tweeting that "Something special is happening in Austin tonight." Davis' political efforts -- and her pink sneakers
! -- inspired men and women across the country to rally for women's reproductive rights. Davis is running for governor of Texas in 2014.
In January, the Pentagon ended its ban on women serving on the front lines
, overturning a 1994 rule which had barred them from certain ground combat units. As Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. said when the announcement was made: "It reflects the reality of 21st century military operations."
In June, the FDA approved Plan B for sale
over-the-counter and without age restrictions, making it easier for women all over the country to get the emergency contraceptive.
At the 2013 Glamour Women of the Year Awards in November, Lady Gaga criticized magazine editors
for continuing to splash airbrushed celebrities on their covers, and said she wished activist Malala Yousafzai had been on Glamour's December cover in her place.
"I felt my skin looked too perfect. I felt my hair looked too soft," the pop star said of her turn as the magazine's cover girl. "I do not look like this when I wake up in the morning ... It is fair to write about the change in your magazines. But what I want to see is the change on your covers."
Preach, Gaga. Preach.
After Fox News pundits Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs
made some factually inaccurate and sexist comments about working women and their families based on a report stating that 40 percent of mothers are now also primary breadwinners -- Erickson described men as naturally "dominant" said that “having mom as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage” -- Kelly shut them down.
"What makes you dominant and me submissive and who died and made you scientist-in-chief?," she asked Erickson. Boom.
As firm believers in everyone's right to love who they want to love -- and to marry who they want to marry we were thrilled to see same-sex marriage legalized
this year in New Jersey, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, and Maryland.
In October, Janet Yellen became President Obama's nominee to succeed Ben Bernanke as the chair of the Federal Reserve. At the end of November, the Senate banking committee backed her nomination
and she is expected to be confirmed this month. If she is, she'll become the first woman to hold the job, and one of the most powerful players in the world.
In September, journalists Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill
took over as co-anchors of PBS "NewsHour." They're the first women to co-anchor a national daily news program, a major milestone for women in media.
These dudes are seriously awesome. In January, a group of Indian men staged a "Don't Skirt the Issue" walk in Bangalore
to support women's equality. All 200 participants signed the following pledge:
I promise that I will be sensitive to gender issues in the way I speak and act. I promise not to be passive. I will step in if I hear offensive speech or views. If I see something wrong happen in front of me, I will create a discussion and talk about my beliefs. Male allies for the win!
The Netflix original series, based on Piper Kerman's memoir, brought a predominantly-female with an extremely diverse ensemble cast into the spotlight. Show creator, Jenji Kohan, has spoken openly
about the barriers to diversity within the entertainment industry and how Kerman's source material allowed her to tell the stories of non-white, non-thin, non-young women.
In July, she told Collider
When I read Piper Kerman’s book, I thought, “This is a way into a really interesting world. If you go to a network and say, “I wanna do prison stories about black women and Latino women and old women,” you’re not gonna make a sale. But, if you’ve got this blonde girl going to prison, you can get in there, and then you can tell all the stories.
Steinem shut down the endless debate over Miley Cryus' sexuality
back in October, when she essentially said "don't hate the player, hate the game."
She told Omg! Insider:
I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed ... But given the game as it exists, women make decisions. It’s ridiculous. But that’s the way the culture is. I think that we need to change the culture, not blame the people that are playing the only game that exists.
In March, Sheryl Sandberg asked women
everywhere, "what would you do if you weren't afraid?" The answer for her was to write the book Lean In
, and it launched a much-needed conversation about what we need to do to achieve greater equality of opportunity for professional women. The book quickly became a bestseller. Despite the fact that not everyone agrees with Sandberg's assessment, we'll be forever grateful that she started such an important dialogue.
It's Shonda Rhimes' world, y'all -- and we're just living in it. The showrunner has become one of the most powerful women in Hollywood (and one of the few women of color), and her star only continues to rise. Not only do "Scandal" #gladiators dominate social media
every Thursday night, tweeting about everything from Drunk Mellie
to Lisa Kudrow's character's
epic speech about sexism, but Rhimes also signed a book deal
with Simon & Schuster to pen a memoir.
On Nov. 7, Rhimes told NPR's Morning Edition how much things have changed for the better since the premiere of "Grey's Anatomy" (which she created) in 2005:
I think now we're in a world in which nobody's worried about whether or not the women are likable. If you have a show with a female lead, which was a fairly rare thing to do a little while ago, because it was so rare, everybody wanted that person to be perfect because she had to represent everybody. Olivia Pope [the main character in "Scandal"] is very rare because she's an African-American woman, and everybody wants her to be perfect because she has to represent everybody. So there's a box that you get placed in. My goal, really, is to blow that box wide open.
After the suspension of Wendy Davis' 11-hour filibuster, Texas state senator Leticia Van de Putte
caused a crowd in the Senate gallery to erupt in applause for over 10 minutes when she asked acting chairman Sen. Robert Duncan
, a simple question about his decision to overrule objections to the process by which the filibuster was cut short.
"Did the President [of the Texas Senate] hear me or did the President hear me and refuse to recognize me?," she asked. "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
What. A. Badass.
"Orange Is The New Black" broke ground with its portrayal of Sophia Burset
, a trans woman and former firefighter incarcerated for credit-card theft. Actress Laverne Cox became the first trans woman of color to portray another trans woman of color on-screen, and we think that's pretty awesome.
"What I've always believed is that if you get to know someone as a human being that everything -- all the preconceptions and stereotypes you might have had about them -- will fade away," Cox told TVGuide
. "And I think what our writers and the show have done such a great job of is humanizing Sophia so we really understand her as a complicated, flawed human being just like anyone else."
In June, the Supreme Court court declared the Defense of Marriage Act
-- which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states where gay marriage is legal -- unconstitutional. The plaintiff, 83-year-old lesbian widow Edie Windsor,
brought her case all the way to the Supreme Court in March and has become a beloved figure in the gay rights movement. (Also if you read about her love story with long-time partner Thea Spyer
you WILL cry.)
In addition to the fact that the second "Hunger Games" installment is just seriously entertaining (no, for real, go see it now), the relationship between its two protagonists, Katniss and Peeta, subverts the traditional rules of movie romance. As Linda Holmes at NPR's MonkeySee blog
pointed out, Peeta takes on the role of the traditional "movie girlfriend." He is soft where Katniss is hard, physically weaker (though fierce), and more openly loving and supportive. How refreshing.
As Holmes writes:
There's more to the unusual gender dynamics in these stories -- particularly, I think, in the films -- than the idea of a girl who fights. There's also a rather delightful mishing and mashing of the ideas of what's expected from young men in movies where everybody is running around shooting and bleeding.
This video from Auckland University's Law Revue Girls speaks for itself.
Canadian artist Petra Collins' Instagram account was suspended
in October after she posted a photo of her waist and legs in a bikini bottom that exposed -- the horror! -- a bit of pubic hair. This alleged censorship caused Collins to speak out
and urge women to push back on the rigid constructions of beauty that society imposes on them. She wrote:
To all the young girls and women, do not let this discourage you, do not let anyone tell you what you should look like, tell you how to be, tell you that you do not own your body. Even if society tries to silence you keep on going, keep moving forward, keep creating revolutionary work, and keep this discourse alive.