In case you needed a reminder: Cool, thoughtful women absolutely killed it in 2015.
Though women faced many attacks this year, including the tragic shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, there were also many moments when women banded together and triumphed. As 2016 is fast approaching, let’s look back and celebrate the moments — and the women — who made 2015 a year of forward-thinking female badassery.
11 Times Gender Norms Got The Middle Finger in 2015
Amber Rose’s SlutWalk Took Over The Streets of LA
In October, model and entrepreneur Amber Rose held a SlutWalk in Los Angeles to give a major f-you to patriarchal garbage that shames and oppresses women for their sexuality. She gave a powerful speech about some of her own experiences with slut shaming that’s both heartbreaking and brave. TL;DR: Amber Rose is a gift to us all.
Serena Williams Made History — Again
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 14, 2015
In December, tennis pro Serena Williams was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson Of The Year — an honor that an individual woman has not received since 1983. Let’s be clear: No one deserved this award more than Serena, who is a 21-time grand slam champion and has battled through flagrant racism, sexism and classism only to dominate her sport. Also, if you needed a refresher about what “power” looks like, LOOK AT THAT DAMN COVER.
Grimes’ ’Art Angels’ Was An Epic Middle Finger To The Male Gaze
The Canadian artist’s latest album is an experimental tour de force that takes major jabs at patriarchy, sexism and conventional beauty standards in songs like “Kill V. Maim,” “Venus Fly” and “Butterfly,” where she sings:
If you’re looking for a dream girl / I’ll never be your dream girl / Living in the real world / Looking for a dream girl
This album continued her tradition of calling out sexism in the music industry, especially the misogyny she experiences as a female producer.
Lila Perry Stood Up To Her School For An Inspiring Reason
Perry, who is trans, fought against her Missouri high school in August for her right to use the girls’ locker room. She was met with opposition from both staff and her classmates, about 150 of whom walked out in protest of Perry’s request. Despite all this, Perry remained undeterred in her mission, and even appeared on “The View” to talk about her experience.
“It’s important that I fought for my right to use the restroom because it’s time trans teens who aren’t celebrities have a voice and stand up for themselves,” Perry told MTV News. Ultimately, she was able to negotiate with her school and come to a resolution.
Amandla Stenberg Made Badass Comic Book Starring A Young, Black Heroine
Amandla Stenberg is known not only for her acting abilities, but also for her intellect and insightfulness. This year, in addition to sparking an important discussion on cultural appropriation, Stenberg created her own comic series, “NIOBE: She Is Life,” featuring a young, black female protagonist.
“I was drawn to give voice to Niobe and co-write her story because her journey is my journey, Stenberg told the Huffington Post. “I connect to her mixed racial background and quest to discover her innate powers and strengths, to learn who she truly is. There’s never been a character quite like her, one who shatters the traditional ideal of what a hero is. We need more badass girls!”
Laura Jane Grace Had A Powerful Message For Young Trans People
This was a big year for Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, whose group released an album of live recordings, “23 Live Sex Acts.” In an interview with MTV News, Grace, who is a trans woman, gave some heartfelt advice for trans kids struggling with being bullied.
“My advice to people in a situation like that is to take no shit,” she said. “I know that’s really hard to do when you’re alone, but like, just like, when you’re in the right … no matter what, just keep going for it and keep standing up for yourself.”
Rowan Blanchard Wrote An Incredible Instagram Essay About Intersectionality
The “Girl Meets World” star may be 13, but she’s wise beyond her years. In a series of Instagram posts, Blanchard elaborated on the myriad problems of white feminism and exclusivity. “White feminism forgets all about intersectional feminism,” she wrote. “The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from how a white woman experiences inequality.”
She continued, “While white women are making 78 cents to the dollar, Native American women are making 65 cents, black women are making 64 cents, and Hispanic women are making 64 cents … it is SO important to protect trans women and trans youth as they are incredibly at risk when it comes to sexual assault and hate crimes.”
Lindy West and Amelia Bonow Started #ShoutYourAbortion — And The World Listened
Despite the fact that abortion has been legal for more than 40 years, it remains under attack. This year, a series of heavily edited, fake “undercover videos” circulated that alleged Planned Parenthood was illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. This fueled the anti-abortion rhetoric of many GOP presidential candidates and caused many states to try and defund the organization.
Writer Lindy West and activist Amelia Bonow gloriously fought back at the harmful, fallacious rhetoric by creating the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion. Women all over the Internet used the hashtag to share their experiences with abortion, showing it’s not a nefarious practice but rather an essential part of healthcare.
Faatimah Knight Raised Thousands For Burned Black Churches In The South
Shortly after the tragedy at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June, which left nine dead, several Southern black churches were burned — at least three of which as the result of arson.
This prompted 23-year-old Faatimah Knight, a young black Muslim woman, to create “Respond With Love” — a crowdsourcing project in which a network of Muslim organizations an activists were able to raise over $100,000 for the burned churches. In short, Faatimah Knight is a hero.
Viola Davis Had An Absolutely Epic Emmy Win
In September, Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy award for best lead actress in a drama, for her role as Professor Annalise Keating on “How to Get Away With Murder.” As MTV News reported, her speech was nothing short of awe-inspring, as Davis quoted Harriet Tubman and “thanked TV actresses of color including Gabrielle Union, Nicole Beharie, Taraji P. Henson, and Kerry Washington for ’taking us over the line’; the line that ’separates women of color from anyone else.’”
Alexis Moncada Launched An Online Feminist Network For — And By — Teens
This year, Alexis Moncada (AKA @lexi4prez on Twitter), launched one of the fastest-growing social justice sites online, Feministculture.com. “I was inspired to create Feminist Culture when I was 16,” she told MTV News. “I’ve had thousands of young girls and people of all ages, genders, nationalities, races, and sexualities tell me how much Feminist Culture has opened up their minds to the world and feminism.
“Now with almost 150,000 followers, and a website with articles published from a diverse group of writers who are just as happy to educate, the site has educated even more people with great explanations of current events, feminist philosophies, and more. We get about 10,000 site views a day, which is amazing,” she added. “The whole experience is amazing.”
Jennifer Lawrence Penned A Powerful Letter About The Wage Gap
In an issue of Lena Dunham and Jenni Konners’ “Lenny” newsletter, JLaw wrote a piece about how much more money her “American Hustle” co-stars made than her. “I’m over trying to find the ’adorable’ way to state my opinion and still be likable!” she wrote. “F— that. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a man in charge who spent time contemplating what angle he should use to have his voice heard. It’s just heard.”
Misty Copeland Made Ballet History
In June, the 32-year-old became the first African American woman to be made principal dancer at the at American Ballet Theater.
Her reaction to the news was pretty ~on pointe.~