Last night (January 13th, 2016) I hosted the Women of the World Poetry Slam Playoffs, and decided to bring with me a bunch of #feministfacts–interesting things that happened over the last year in feminist news. Here they are for your enjoyment!
December 2015: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is named the Time Person of the Year. The last time a woman was chosen for person of the year? Corazon Aquino, President of the Philippines–29 years ago.
November 2015: Roxane Gay, author of the essay collection Bad Feminist, wins the PEN Freedom to Write Award. LitHub comments, “she fights for women, for the LGBT community, people of colour and anyone else who’s disenfranchised, who’s made to feel weak or small, and does so with passion and dedication”.
July 1st of 2015: the Canadian government moved to remove sales tax from tampons, and as of this month, California is trying to do it too. You know what has never had sales tax? Viagra.
September 2015: Viola Davis was the first black woman to win an Emmy for lead actress. In 2015. In her acceptance speech, she said: “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity”
October 2015: California approved legislation that requires school districts that have a health education requirement to include education about consent. This is based on the “yes means yes” standard, in which consent can only be established when both partners participate through “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” at every stage.
December 2015: Feminist and professional hater Camille Paglia calls Taylor Swift an “obnoxious Nazi Barbie” in an essay for the Hollywood reporter. Paglia also hates porn, Jon Stewart, and Lady Gaga, but loved the movie Charlie’s Angels, insisting in the same essay that the movie was not at all about “tits and ass” but “in fact an effervescent action-adventure showing smart, bold women working side by side in fruitful collaboration.”
July and Nov 2015: Caitlyn Jenner was awarded Glamour’s Woman of the Year title as well as the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. In her acceptance speech for Woman of the Year, she thanked other trans women who encouraged her transition, stating, “I could not have done this without the people who have gone before me — the Laverne Coxes of the world, the Janet Mocks,” Jenner said. “I like being myself. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
January 2015: The cast is announced for the long-awaited Ghostbusters remake, and it’s an all female team. Entitled antifeminist nerds everywhere freak the fuck out. Duncan Shields writes an amazing poem about that.
September 2015: Lammily, the “anti barbie” doll with acne and cellulite, whose dimensions are based on the average 19 year old, gets her period. She now comes with a Period Party pack including doll sized pads and little red dots where she bleeds on her underwear.
September 2015: The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying if his successor is female, she’d better be “very attractive,” otherwise she’d be “not much use.” The Dalai Lama!
August 2015: Addyi, the drug labeled the “female viagra,” comes onto the market approved by the FDA. It doesn’t really work. Writer Ann Friedman comments, “It’s not that male sexuality is inherently simple and female sexuality is complex. It’s that a web of systemic inequalities have historically made sexual pleasure less attainable for women.”
November 2015: a big study is from Tel-Aviv University shows through MRI scans that there is no difference between male and female brains.
July 2015: Cultural Critic Naomi Wolf calls for women to stop using vocal techniques like upspeak and vocal fry, claiming that “you’re disowning your power.” Many women speak back, pointing out that plenty of men use these techniques including vocal fry, and that the argument that these vocal techniques make it hard to listen to women is another excuse not to listen to women.
June 2015: Nobel Prize Winning scientist Tim Hunt comments that he is in favour of same sex labs, because of his “trouble with girls,” stating “three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.” In part thanks a Twitter backlash, Hunt is laughed directly into his resignation.
May 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road debuts, in which Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa completely eclipses the movie’s male namesake, whoever that guy is. Moviegoers everywhere were surprised to be watching a long form feminist car chase with one goal: dismantle the patriarchy. The film grosses over 375 million dollars worldwide.
February 2015: Patricia Arquette wins the Oscar for best supporting actress. She takes the opportunity of her acceptance speech to say, “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, and Shirley Maclaine cheer her on.
October 2015: Justin Trudeau is elected as Canada’s prime minister. When asked why he chose so many women for his cabinet, he paused and then said, “Because it’s 2015.” The mic drop was implied.