We’ve rounded up 29 of the most inspiring, badass and all-around awesome moments of 2014 — here’s hoping next year’s list is even longer.
Laverne Cox Broke Down Barriers On The Cover Of TIME Magazine
The “Orange Is The New Black” star was the first transgender person to cover of TIME, appearing in the June 9 issue. In an interview with TIME, Cox spoke about the shame she felt growing up and how important it is for trans people to share their stories and de-stigmatize their experiences:
There’s not just one trans story. There’s not just one trans experience. And I think what they need to understand is that not everybody who is born feels that their gender identity is in alignment with what they’re assigned at birth, based on their genitalia. If someone needs to express their gender in a way that is different, that is okay, and they should not be denied healthcare. They should not be bullied. They don’t deserve to be victims of violence. … That’s what people need to understand, that it’s okay and that if you are uncomfortable with it, then you need to look at yourself.
Kerry Washington Spoke Out About Financial Abuse
In September, the “Scandal” star appeared at an event for The Allstate Foundation’s “Purple Purse” initiative to raise awareness about domestic abuse. Washington designed a limited-edition purple purse to draw attention to the role of money in abusive relationships.
“I think people just aren’t as aware of financial abuse,” Washington told The Huffington Post in an interview. “If a woman isn’t even aware of the dynamics of financial abuse — what it looks like, what it is — she may not even know that that’s part of the tools being used to control her and manipulate her and keep her trapped. When there is more information around it, people can begin to identify it and then get the help they need.”
Women Shared Their Stories Of Surviving Domestic Violence Using #WhyIStayed
After a security video leaked in September showing Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancee Janay Palmer and dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator, people questioned why Palmer stayed with her abuser after the February 2014 incident — and married him one day after he was indicted for aggravated assault.Women on Twitter came forward with their own stories of intimate partner violence, explaining why they couldn’t “just leave” their abusers. The #WhyIStayed hashtag became a place for survivors to share their testimonies, offer support to sufferers and remind people that the cycle of abuse is much more complicated than simply staying or leaving.
“Obvious Child” Offered An Honest Look At Abortion In Film
The rom-com, released this summer, shows a woman’s abortion as just one chapter in the longer story of her life — a depiction often missing from the big and small screens.“Finally. Real stories about real women making decisions,”NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said at a June 2014 screening of the film. “Why does this feel so revolutionary?”
“Yes Means Yes” Consent Laws Were Passed In California
In August, California state legislators passed a bill that defines when “yes means yes” in the context of investigating college sexual assaults. All California post-secondary schools that receive state funding for student financial aid will be required to define consent as “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.”“With one in five women on college campuses experiencing sexual assault, it is high time the conversation regarding sexual assault be shifted to one of prevention, justice, and healing,” State Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) told The Associated Press.
Famous Women Stood Up For Feminism
One especially awesome moment of 2014 was when Taylor Swift openly eschewed her past views on feminism, thanking Lena Dunham for helping her realize she’s “been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”Other female celebrities who spoke out about feminism this year include Jessie J, who told The Huffington Post this October: “I believe in making sure that I understand my responsibility of being a woman, and what I should stand for, and being confident and not standing down for any ego or suit.”Kristen Stewart thinks it’s “ridiculous” to“say you’re not a feminist.” And Chrissy Teigen told HuffPost this fall: “People have sorely messed up the definition of feminism. It isn’t saying this is wrong and this is right. It’s having the power to do whatever the fuck you want. It’s about having your own beliefs and staying true to them.”
A Mom Wore Her Teen’s Banned Dress To Protest Unfair Dress Codes
After strict dress code rules at Central Davidson High School in North Carolina meant that Violet Burkhart was sent home to change on her last day of high school, her mother Amy Redwine wore the same dress to her daughter’s graduation ceremony in a sign of protest and solidarity.“I never ever ever wear dresses,” Redwine told iVillage Canada. “So it’s a super big deal to Violet to let her know I got her back.”
Lupita Nyong’o Reminded Everyone That All Shades Of Black Are Beautiful
When she received the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at the 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon on February 27, Nyong’o spoke about how she grew up hating her darker complexion and her journey to self-acceptance and self-love.”What my mother meant when she said ‘you can’t eat beauty’ was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us… what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you.”
Joss Whedon Defined How To Be A Responsible Male Feminist
Action is the best way to say anything. A guy who goes around saying “I’m a feminist” usually has an agenda that is not feminist. A guy who behaves like one, who actually becomes involved in the movement, generally speaking, you can trust that. And it doesn’t just apply to the action that is activist. It applies to the way they treat the women they work with and they live with and they see on the street.
Emma Sulkowicz’s “Carry That Weight” Drew International Attention To The Issue Of Campus Rape
At the Human Rights Campaign’s THRIVE conference in February, the “Juno” actress announced that she was “tired of lying by omission” and came out as gay in front of the audience.“I’m here today because I am gay, and because maybe I can make a difference.” Page said. “To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.”
Daniel Radcliffe Shut Down Our Ideas About “The Friendzone” And “Conventional Male Leads”
The actor has given some awesome interviews this year, and his comments about gender double standards are especially on point. Radcliffe doesn’t believe in the “friend zone” — “I definitely think the idea of friend zone is just men going, ‘This woman won’t have sex with me,'” he told BuzzFeed in January.In October, he responded perfectly to the suggestion that he’s an “unconventional male lead”because everyone was used to viewing him as a child actor: “My immediate response to that was: ‘Well, the male population had no problem sexualizing Emma Watson immediately.'”Awesome!!!
Facebook And Apple Pledged To Cover The Cost Of Egg-Freezing Services For Their Employees
In October, it was announced that Apple will join Facebook in paying for employees to harvest and store their eggsstarting in January 2015 — meaning that women working there will have expanded reproductive choices, not limited by their “biological clocks.”“The benefit will likely encourage women to stay with their employer longer, cutting down on recruiting and hiring costs,”NBC wrote. “And practically speaking, when women freeze their eggs early, firms may save on pregnancy costs in the long run.”
Shonda Rhimes Got Her Very Own Night Of Television (#TGIT)
“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”and “How To Get Away With Murder” all feature incredible female leads, air on the same night, and come to us courtesy of Shonda Rhimes. “Shonda Night” made Thursday the best night of the week in fall 2014 for sure. Though we all miss Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope’s feminist moments are almost making up for it. #TGIT
Gabrielle Union And Jennifer Lawrence Responded Eloquently And With Class To Their Nude Photos Being Stolen
After private photographs were stolen and published on the Internet, Jennifer Lawrence and Gabrielle Union spoke out about the violation. Lawrence referred to the hack as “a sex crime,”telling Vanity Fair: “Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.”In an essay for Cosmopolitan, Union described her experience as “an insane battle,” writing:
Some people say the publicity surrounding the photos helps our careers. We don’t need this kind of press. Jennifer Lawrence is the face of two billion-dollar franchises. It’s not a career boost — it’s a new form of sexual abuse. Other people think that they are entitled to know everything about us because we are celebrities, in the public eye. No. If I show my husband my naked body, it doesn’t mean everyone gets to see it. And people sometimes argue: But you wear skimpy bikinis — what’s the difference? The difference is that you are the one who chooses whether to show your body. When billions of people on the Internet can see you naked without your consent, it’s a crime.
One Couple Had An Incredible Response To Anti-Abortion Protestors
Women Shared How Sexism Affects Them Using #YesAllWomen
“Not all men” is a favorite comeback of mens’ rights activists and sexist Internet commenters. So aftersix people were killed when Elliot Rodger went on a murder spree that may have been motivated by sexism, women on Twitter started to share how misogyny affects them. Though #NotAllMen are misogynists, #YesAllWomen are impacted by sexism.Using the hashtag, women shared their own stories of sexism, discrimination, objectification, sexualization, street harassment, fear of sexual assault and anecdotes about what it means to be a woman today.
#DudesGreetingDudes Made A Great Point About Catcalling
If catcalling is “just a compliment,”why don’t men catcall each other? That’s the point Elon James White made back in November, when he tweeted what it would be like if men harassed other men on the street, using the hashtag #DudesGreetingDudes.To any man convinced that catcalling is “harmless,” White has suggestions for how they can greet other men. One example:
You see a dude looking all hard & shit. Roll up on him like “Aye yo, smile, son. Damn.” BRING SUNSHINE TO HIS DAY. #dudesgreetingdudes
Alanah Pearce Contacted The Mothers Of Young Boys Who Sent Her Rape Threats
Pearce, a 21-year-old game reviewer from Brisbane, Australia, was disturbed by the number of online rape threats she was receiving from boys aged 10-15. So, she contacted their mothers.“A while ago, I realized that a lot of the people who send disgusting or overly sexual comments to me over the Internet aren’t adult males,”Pearce told The Guardian. “It turns out that mostly they’re young boys and the problem is they don’t know any better, so responding to them rationally didn’t resolve the situation.”For at least one boy, Pearce talking to his mother resolved the situation just fine.“[His mother] has gotten him to handwrite me a letter and she’s also spoken to other parents in the community,” Pearce told The BBC. “She is going to the school to talk about online harassment and bullying and trying to make other parents more aware of what their kids are saying online.”
Same-Sex Marriage Became Legal For The Majority Of The U.S.
Voters Struck Down Personhood Amendments In Colorado and North Dakota
During the midterm elections, ballot initiatives threatened legal abortion in Colorado, North Dakota and Tennessee. Colorado and North Dakota had personhood measures on their ballots — legislation that seeks to legally define life as starting at conception, giving rights to fertilized eggs — but the initiative did not pass in either state.
Emma Haslam Proved That Pole Dancing Is For Everyone On “Britain’s Got Talent”
We’re all tired of stock photos that feature women laughing alone with salad. This year, Getty Images teamed up with “Lean In” and released a new stock photo gallery with 2,500 images breaking down stereotypes about gender roles.“The stock imagery around women is embarrassing,”Jessica Bennett, contributing editor at LeanIn.org, said in a press release. “You can’t be what you can’t see, so if women and girls are not seeing images of powerful women and girls who are leaders, then they may not aspire to become that.”
Emma Watson Launched The #HeForShe Campaign, Calling Men To Act Against Sexism
During a Sept. 21 address to the UN, the actress introduced the #HeForShe campaign, which encourages men to join the fight for gender equality.“The more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating,”Watson said. “If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop… Men — I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.”
Mo’ne Davis Was Named Sports Illustrated’s “Sports Kid of the Year”