2017: The Year of the Girl

      A funny thing happened to me. I was wearing a shirt that said "Girls Support Each Other" and standing next to an individual wearing a shirt that said "Cool story babe- Go make me a sandwich." Side note, I thought those shirts died in 2012. When a man walked by, I was the one that got the stare, scoff, and shake of a head. I watched him take the extra split second, focusing, trying to see if my shirt really said what it said, to see if I really dared to promote... a supportive, feminist message. I know, what was I thinking? Unfortunately, misogyny and sexism are still alive in 2017, and there's still a lot of work to be done in achieving gender equality. However, as we wrap up and reflect, 2017 proved to be quite a good year to be a girl- here's a few reasons why.

1. We marched. 

       January 21st was one of the most powerful and unified days in history. Across all seven continents, 5 million people walked in solidarity for women and minority rights in America and across the globe. Organized in the support of vibrant and diverse communities, the Women's March was one of the most incredible displays for human rights advocacy in years.

2. Wonder Woman happened. 

     Years ago, little girls had princesses to look up to. I love Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella as much as the next, but the damsel in distress storyline only does so much to foster a young girl's ambition. It started out slow- we had the Cheetah Girls, we had a hard-working, dream-chasing icon named Tiana in Princess and the Frog, then came Moana, and in 2017 the world was graced with the cinematic masterpiece that is Wonder Woman. Girls are no longer exclusively looking up to ethereal princesses, they're looking up to fierce warriors that find their worth inside themselves. The incredible success of Wonder Woman, over $821 million in sales, proves to Hollywood and the world that women can direct and star in a movie, and that women and men alike will buy tickets and enjoy said movie just the same. Just check out this video of a little girl crying when she meets Gal Gadot (who, by the way, is amazing) https://www.glamour.com/story/young-girl-crying-meeting-gal-gadot-wonder...

3. General Electric stepped up their game. 

      With a revolutionary advertisement campaign, the multi-industry powerhouse pledged to hire 20,000 women in tech roles by the year 2020. The video circled with the tagline "What if we treated great female scientists like they were stars?" GE took a crucial step in encouraging the women in STEM campaign that has recently arisen. By glamorizing scientific inquiry and mathematic discovery, the company is helping the next generation of innovators get inspired to think big and do more. GE's movement also aids in the push for society to rethink the way that we currently perceive women in the workforce. 

4. Studies show that we can raise our national GDP by 5-10%, by adding more women. 

     In a recent study put out by S&P Global, it is revealed that if the United States were to increase the female labor participation rate, our GDP would likely increase by anywhere from 5%-10%. After WWII, women joined the labor market in droves. In the 1970s, the US and Norway both had female labor participation rates just below 45%. By 2016, that figure grew to 76% in Norway, but it was just 67% in the US. Had the US followed Norway’s path from the 1970s, S&P estimates that every person in the country would have an extra $5,000. As a whole, the economy would be $1.6 trillion larger than it is today. This doesn't even account for the economic gains that could have arisen from higher productivity and increased gender equality. However, part of the reason that women are not as involved in the workforce in the US as in other countries is due to our less accommodating maternity policies- but that's another issue. 5. Gender Equity... On Ice. 

The women’s national hockey team threatened to boycott the world championship if its players didn’t receive equitable pay, a better training environment, and more overall support from the league. USA Hockey responded. The contract isn't completely transparent, but it does include the establishment of the Women's High Performance Advisory Group, which encourages girls hockey at a youth level. The players reflected on their fight against the wage gap: “It was the right thing to do for the next generation of girls that dream of playing on the national team,” defenseman Monique Lamoureux-Morando said.

6. Rihanna did what all the other makeup brands should have done. 

      Fenty Beauty redefined the way that makeup products were seen on the market. I normally just ask my older, wiser, and more glamorous sister what to buy, but even I knew that Rihanna's new line was the hottest thing on the shelves this year. No woman was ignored. Every shade imaginable was made into a foundation, her lip gloss really did look good on everyone, her highlighter was borderline angelic, and her advertisements were full of diverse and beautiful women. We expected extraordinary from Rihanna, but the sales surpassed anything that Sephora planned- the store ended up restocking numerous times a day. Safe to say, she did that. 

7. Women earned the right to bare arms. 

     Now more so than ever, Capitol Hill is seen as a beacon of sexual harassment and female subjugation. Early in the year, a political reporter was refused entry into the Speaker's Lobby because of an outdated rule claiming sleeveless clothing was forbidden. The next day, Representative Jackie Speier of California rallied colleagues from all over the country to show up the following Friday in shoulder-exposed clothing in order to take a stand against the discriminatory regulation of women’s attire. The rules were quickly changed, and it was proven that women in Washington can get stuff done. Hmmm... 

8. 82 girls came home. 

     In April 2014, members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram abducted nearly 300 girls from a school in the village of Chibok, Nigeria. The tragedy received global attention, and 2017 saw the return of 82 girls that had been kidnapped. Girls all around the world see their lives devalued, and the Chibok schoolgirls have become heartbreaking, yet inspiring symbols of the struggle for a better life. However, over 100 girls are still missing. Don't forget about them. 

9. #MeToo

     Time awarded the famous Person of the Year award to the people that spoke out this year: The Silence Breakers. Two female journalists broke one of the biggest stories of the years: an article exposing 30 years of ignored sexual harassment, all committed by Harvey Weinstein. This launched the #MeToo campaign, which went viral practically overnight. Women everywhere were given a platform to stand up and speak out against injustices that happen every day in society, and need to be fixed. 

10. Beyoncé Changed the Game. So did Lorde, Taylor Swift, and Cardi B. 

      Lemonade, the visual album, wasn't just jammed to by the general public. Beyoncé's album was hailed as a revolutionary landmark, opening discussion about race, feminism, music, matriarchy and infidelity. It was acclaimed by critics and scholars for offering multidimensional images of black, female life. 

     Lorde experienced the world's most incredible house party, found herself along the way, and took all of us along for the ride. Melodrama tells the story of Lorde's breakup and her journey to self discovery. In probably one of my favorite albums of all time, Lorde truly touches every emotion that one can feel in life in the course of 41 minutes. The young pop star even earned herself a Grammy nomination in the Album of the Year category. 

    Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift accepted whatever you, your friends, and your twitter feed think and promptly threw it out the window. Her album, reputation, brilliantly explains her life in the spotlight, her lost friendships, her love life, and her perceived identity as a snake. More importantly however, Swift became a champion in the fight against sexual harassment with her famous $1 lawsuit against the DJ that groped her years ago, then tried to sue her for millions. Swift fought back, and won, making the statement that no victim should ever be made to feel responsible for the shameful and inappropriate actions of their harasser. 

   Female rappers have long been underrepresented in the music industry. Cardi B is helping take care of that. With her smash hit, Bodak Yellow,  Cardi B became the first female rapper to hold the #1 spot on the Billboard charts since 1998!

That's just ten of the millions of incredible reasons why it's amazing to be a woman in 2017, and every day. From feminist shirts, inclusive media, and increased representation, people are empowering women in more ways than ever before.  G.D. Anderson said, "Feminism isn't about making women strong. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength." Every day, that strength becomes a little more evident to people all around the world. So if I leave you with one closing thought in 2017, it's this: it's time for the world to girl up. 

Wishing everyone peace, love, and joy this holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Melodrama deserves a Grammy, Merry Everything!

    

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