I got the Apple News notification that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed when I was playing sand volleyball. I knew the name and that she was a Supreme Court Justice, but I didn't realize her true impact until after that moment. She fiercely advocated for gender equality and women's rights. She wrote the court's opinion on the United States v Virginia case that concluded women couldn't be denied acceptance from the Virginia Military Institute based on sex. Barack Obama worked directly with Ginsburg on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that fought pay discrepancies. For 87 years, RBG spoke out against misogyny in hopes for future generations to find freedom in equality. Her impacts are still felt today.
What do we talk about when we talk about sex? Whatever it is, Sex and the City was the one who put in on the small screen. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte were four boss New York women who showed the world the female perspectives of relationships, sex and careers. Have I forgiven Carrie for constantly dismissing Big's toxicity? No, but Carrie Bradshaw and her girl gang paved a road for humorous yet honest discussions regarding these 'scandalous' topics. The legacy of Sex and the City forever lives on in the sexual liberation of many women.
America's sweetheart gymnast can get a seat at my table any day. She has made her mark in the sport with numerous achievements such as being tied for the most decorated Olympic gymnast, and having a floor pass named after her because she is the only person who can do it. Biles is a role model off the floor as well. In the midst of the #Metoo Movement, Biles was one of many prominent gymnasts to speak out about her sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, the US women's national team's doctor. She works alongside the female clothing brand Athleta to inspire women and girls to pursue their athletic goals.
In the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, all eyes were on Biles after she withdrew in the middle of the competition for reasons regarding her mental health. While the internet quickly outpoured its support, critics had choice words for her decision. Charlie Kirk took to his podcast to condemn the "generation of weak people like Simone Biles." Piers Morgan called out Biles after her withdrawal and publicly exclaimed that "there's nothing heroic or brave about quitting because you're not having 'fun'." The internet backed Simone and tore these men to shreds (as the internet does). Biles' actions prompted conversations of seeing young athletes as real people, and demonstrated the priority of mental health that is needed in today's achievement-driven society.
I couldn't imagine compiling this list without including my mother. All these women have shaped me in some way, but my mamma is the one who MADE me who I am. Her resilience and strength balanced with her kind heart and support is what I strive to be. She's the embodiment of female power, and it has been a privilege to watch her radiant brilliance into so many people's lives. She also makes some dang good ribs which have become one of my many comfort foods. She is my favorite phone call. Love you always, Lizzie.
Ali caught my eye in the 2019 movie Always Be My Maybe which she cowrote and starred in. From there I binged her three Netflix standup specials (two of which were filmed while she was pregnant) and they all had me rolling on the floor. She openly jokes about the reality of motherhood, being the breadwinner, and the perception of being a female comedian. Wong's revolutionary impact in so many intersectional fields of identity (Asian American, female) is what makes her, in my opinion, a voice of a generation.
I'll say this one loud for those in the back. JANE AUSTEN WAS A FREAKING FEMINIST! Yes her novels have marriages, but in no way were her heroines some damsels in distress waiting for a rich man to give their lives purpose. Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice turns down two proposals and tells both men their wealth can't compensate for their egos and insincerity. Persuasion's Anne Elliott learns that using societal and familial pressure to guide your life makes you unhappy. Anne grows confident in her own judgement and does what she wants in the end of the novel despite what others think. Austen herself wrote when women weren't writers. She published books anonymously. In a time where women were to be nothing more than ornaments, Austen developed characters that were very progressive.
Ah, Phoebe. The vibrant hippie chick of the 90s is a much underrated feminist character. I'm not talking in a radical, large and in charge, pantsuit kind of feminism. She's progressive in her open mindedness, unrestricted confidence, and blunt attitude. She displays female independence. Think about it: Phoebe's storyline doesn't contain nearly as many romantic plots as Rachel or Monica. She cracks jokes and can hang with the guys' banter. Her unapologetic self contradicted the female stereotypes of television.