1. Beyonce’s “FEMINIST” stance at the 2014 VMAs
Kimye-Vogue publicity stunts aside, the moment that truly #broketheinternet this past year was Beyonce’s VMAs performance. Yes, Queen B.
2. Laverne Cox gracing the cover of TIME Magazine
In addition to being the magazine’s face for “America’s next civil rights frontier,” Cox was also the first-ever transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy.
3. Malala Yousafzai being the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Yousafzai won the prize after extensively advocating for girls’ access to education and against violence towards women. Yousafzai herself is a survivor of an assassination attempt by the Taliban.
4. Emma Watson and the launch of #HeForShe
#HeForShe is not without its critics. However, it’s undeniable that Emma Watson’s moving speech at the UN sparked an international conversation about feminism (and male acceptance of female equality) that was long overdue.
5. Emma Sulkowicz and “Carry That Weight”
Sexual assault survivor and Columbia University senior Emma Sulkowicz designed a poignant senior thesis project: she would carry a mattress around her school’s campus until her rapist’s removal or graduation—whichever came first. Sulkowicz’s bravery led to a nation-wide day of mattress-carrying protests and widespread demonstrations against sexual assault on college campuses.
6. Jennifer Lawrence’s response to her photo leak
Most of Jennifer Lawrence’s fans grew up with a very specific kind of female celebrity response to nude photo leaks: apologies, embarrassment, promises to do better. Lawrence, however, #changedthegame for the better when, in a Vanity Fair interview, she rightfully stated that she had nothing to apologize for. In addition, Lawrence said that those who contributed to the invasion of her privacy by looking at the photos should “cower in shame.” Yes, girl.
7. Taylor Swift deciding feminism could be part of her brand
Personal opinion about some of Taylor Swift’s past statements aside, it’s without a doubt significant and important that someone with such a huge fan base (comprised mostly of young girls) openly endorse feminism and identify as a feminist. Finally.
The hashtag that took twitter by storm within one day, #YesAllWomen acknowledged that, although not all men are responsible for assault and harm against women, all women live with the fear/ramifications of systematic sexism. #Yes indeed.
9. Shonda Rhimes absolutely slaying in her response to problematic critics.
When a New York Times review critiqued Shonda and some of her characters as adhering to the (archaic, awful, prejudiced) “angry black woman” trope, Rhimes completely shut it down. She also totally shut down critics of the gay sex scenes in How to Get Away With Murder. Bravo.
10. Sweden revealed an official gender-neutral pronoun
In Sweden, the word “hen” is not gender-specific and can be used in replacement of “han” (he) or “hon” (she). Go Sweden.