How Feminism Dominated 2017

Although 2017 has certainly had its ups and downs—and many would argue more of the latter—it can’t be said that there weren’t some incredible moments for the feminist movement. From the beginning of the year when women united to march for equality, to the end of the year when they supported each other with the #MeToo movement, 2017 had several iconic moments for feminists.

After the Presidential Inauguration in January, 5 million women gathered across all seven continents—yes, even Antarctica—to march for equality. The largest planned protest ever in the United States, the Women’s March on Washington had a larger turnout than the inauguration the day prior. I was lucky enough to attend the march with a group from Augustana, and I can’t even begin to describe the experience. It was certainly once in a lifetime, and it was a ray of hope for me during a time where I feared for my rights and the rights of my friends. The group of women who organized the march have continued to fight for women’s rights throughout the year. They organized a Women’s March to the Polls, and have encouraged women to voice their opinions to their representatives. Though the march itself has ended, the effects are still continuing on nearly a year later.

This summer, women (and men and children) flocked to the movie theaters to see the blockbuster hit Wonder Woman. This record-breaking film is one of the highest rated movies of the year—all the more significant because it was directed by a woman. Director Patty Jenkins broke the record for highest grossing film from a female director, ending up with a final box office total of 819 million dollars worldwide. The movie production field is largely dominated by men, especially superhero films. Setting her record breaking aside, Patty Jenkins still made waves in the industry. In a time where women are consistently getting less screen time, less lines, and less money than their male counterparts, a woman directing a film about powerful women is groundbreaking. Wonder Woman wasn’t the only great, female-driven movie this year; Atomic Blonde, Lady Bird, and Girls Trip are among the many movies this year that gave women more screen time.

Towards the end of the year, social media was dominated by #MeToo. With allegations of sexual misconduct coming out about producers, directors, actors, and politicians, women across the world shared their experience with sexual harassment and assault. The message was clear: women are no longer tolerating the abuse they face. More importantly, this movement breaks the stigma around discussing and reporting sexual assault. Women spread their support for these victims brave enough to speak publicly about their traumas. The effects of the movement were so profound that Time Magazine has named “The Silence Breakers” of the #MeToo movement its Person of the Year. This was a significant win for the movement, proving its impact and validity. The movement shows no signs of slowing down, as more and more women are choosing to expose their abusers and share stories from their pasts.

In the current political climate, which is so hostile and polarized, it is important to remember that 2017 was not all bad. Clearly, the feminist movement saw some large successes this year, and will continue its strength into 2018. Merriam-Webster recently announced that “feminism” is their word of the year. It was searched the most out of every word in the dictionary, and searches for the term increased by 70% from 2016. Hopefully, feminism will be the word that defines 2018 as well.