When “feminism” was selected as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017, we thought the choice was kind of perfect. From increasing and improving female on-screen representation to organizing off-screen acts of protest and solidarity, women spent this year supporting and empowering one another in dozens of different ways. We couldn’t possibly name every single step womankind took towards achieving gender equality in 2017, but we can highlight the ones we think deserve more attention.
No matter your opinion on the never-ending Marvel vs. DC debate, you have to admit that Wonder Woman was monumental not just for the future of female superhero films (Marvel still needs to get its act together and give us a Black Widow movie) but for female-driven films and TV shows as a whole. As of now, Wonder Woman is the fifth highest-grossing superhero movie of all time, meaning that we can probably look forward to multiple Wonder Woman sequels over the next few years. Wonder Woman’s success, as well as the success of other female-led films and TV series like Big Little Lies, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Girls Trip, also means that we’ll likely see more women on our screens than ever in 2018 (including the epic-looking Ocean’s 8 and A Wrinkle in Time). The fact that Wonder Woman was helmed by a female director, Patty Jenkins, is also huge. Apparently women only make up about seven percent of Hollywood directors, which is an insane statistic, but we’re confident that women like Jenkins can help change that.
Speaking of female-driven TV shows, 2017 also gave us Doctor Who’s very first female doctor. Doctor Who has been on and off the air since 1963, so the fact that the show is breaking tradition for the first time in over fifty years is kind of a huge deal. Unfortunately, the Who internet trolls didn’t hesitate to voice their displeasure when the BBC announced that Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker would be taking over for Peter Capaldi (the current Doctor) at the end of the year. But no amount of hateful comments or Reddit rants can change the fact that Whittaker will likely inspire the next crop of young female sci-fi fans to pursue their dreams and go on time-defying adventures of their own.
In 2017, Master of None’s Lena Waithe became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. Viola Davis also became the first African-American actor to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony after she was awarded for her turn as Rose Maxson in Fences, and The Handmaid’s Tale’s Reed Morano became the first woman to win an Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series Emmy since 1995. And let’s not forget that Danica Roem became the first transgender person to be elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates (against an openly transphobic opponent, no less). We could go on forever, but the point is that more and more women are slowly but surely being recognized for their talent and determination.
Female musicians, actors, and writers made an effort to recognize one another’s talents in 2017, too. When Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Nicki Minaj sent her a congratulatory message on Twitter. When presenting Meryl Streep with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at this year’s Golden Globes, Viola Davis gushed about Streep’s humility and incredible acting ability (i.e. basically spoke for us all). When Grammy voters named Adele’s 25 Album of the Year instead of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Adele used her speech to talk about why Beyoncé deserved the award instead of her. Here’s hoping the pattern continues and that 2018 gives us more complimentary tweets, speeches, and interviews than ever.
Those who attended the Women’s March in January (as well as those who couldn’t go, but attended in spirit) let the universe know that nothing—not even an election or an inauguration— could get them to give up and accept defeat. The event set the tone for the entire year, as thousands of women and men all over the globe marched across their respective cities to both celebrate International Women’s Day and protest Donald Trump’s presidency. People raised signs, recited chants, and wore their pussy hats with pride and, effectively, created an atmosphere that was somehow supportive, loving, and filled with white hot rage all at once. Bring back the Women’s March in 2018, please.
When we reminisce about 2017 ten years from now, #MeToo will likely be one of the only things we’ll actually still remember. The movement helped cultivate an environment in which women became more comfortable sharing their experiences with sexual abuse and harassment. And as a result, numerous men (high-profile and otherwise) were finally called out and punished for the inappropriate, abusive behaviour they exhibited towards female friends and colleagues. Online platforms like Twitter facilitated the growth of the movement, so much so that Time magazine actually named “The Silence Breakers” as its Person of the Year. And while we wish a movement like #MeToo didn’t have to exist, we’re glad it’s helping victims of abuse and harassment feel more understood and less alone.