The Top 10 Feminist Moments of 2014

There’s no denying that feminism is having a moment right now. From celebrities “coming out” as feminists to major legislative victories for women, the f-word has been on everyone’s lips in 2014. Revel in our big year with the top 10 most memorable moments!

1. Mo’ne Davis proved girls can do anything boys can do

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We fell in love with rockstar Little League pitcher Mo’ne Davis of Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons this year after she became the first girl to ever pitch a shutout and win a Little League World Series game. Look out for her memoir, due to hit bookstores in March.

2. California said “Yes means yes”

Fact: 1 in 5 college women will be raped during the course of their post-secondary education, and virtually none of those women will ever see justice. But in September, California took action to help turn the tide on those harrowing numbers. The state declared that individuals must obtain “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” to have sex before engaging with a partner, making “yes means yes” the law of the land.

3. Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Prize

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Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize win came as no surprise, but we were certainly proud to see the Pakistani activist get the recognition she deserves. After surviving a shooting to the head in 2012 at just 14 years old, she went on to champion every girl’s right to an education. “I’m proud I’m the first Pakistani and the first young woman or the first young person who is getting this award,” she said when she found out she’d won the prize. “I decided I would not leave my school [to celebrate winning the award], rather I would finish my school time.”

4. Survivors of assault by celebrities finally got the support they deserve

If 2014 proved anything about the success of the women’s movement, it’s that the news media has, for the most part, learned its lesson and stopped blaming survivors who make allegations against high-profile figures. This year, we saw women speak out about being assaulted by the likes of Bill Cosby and Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi—and actually receive support. We’ve come a long way, baby.

5. Beyonce took a bold stand for feminism

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Say what you will about Queen Bey and her feminism, but seeing her on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards in front of a blazing “Feminist” sign was a moment we won’t soon forget.

6. Emma Sulkowicz stood up for rape survivors everywhere

After she was allegedly raped in her dorm room, Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz turned the pain of the experience—and the utter failure of the school’s disciplinary board—into a performance art piece with a message. In “Carry That Weight,” she lugs her mattress everywhere she goes on campus and says she’ll continue to do so until her rapist is kicked out of school or leaves on his own. (Ms. honored Sulkowicz for her work to end rape culture with a Wonder Award earlier this year).

7. Pro-choice activists fought hard for reproductive rights, and won in Colorado and North Dakota

A lot of bad news came out of the midterm elections, but there were certainly bright spots: In Colorado and North Dakota, women’s rights triumphed when voters soundly defeated “personhood” amendments that would have eliminated access to abortion and some forms of birth control.

8. Ruth Bader Ginsburg restored our faith in the justice system

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It’s true that the Supreme Court made some bad calls this year (ahem, Hobby Lobby), but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—or the Notorious R.B.G., as we prefer to call her—offered up swift, scathing and purely feminist dissents each time the court made a decision she disagreed with. This one-liner in her Hobby Lobby dissent, for example, says it all: “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

9. Marriage equality took the nation by storm

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Same-sex couples can now legally marry in 35 states!! Fifty here we come!

10. The U.S. did right by domestic-violence survivors seeking asylum

Over the summer, the Board of Immigration Appeals—the nation’s highest immigration court—decided that a battered Guatemalan woman who had entered the U.S. without proper documentation could be eligible for asylum as a victim of persecution. Said Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, “Women who have suffered violence in these cases can now rely on the legal principles established in this ruling. A judge can no longer say, ‘I believe these horrible things happened to you but this is just a criminal act, this is not persecution.’”

Do you have other favorite feminist moments of 2014? Share them in the comments section!

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Photo credits: Mo’ne Davis courtesy of Anthony K. Valley; Malala Yousafzai courtesy of statsministerens kontor; Ruth Bader Ginsburg courtesy of Frank Balsinger. All licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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About

Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.