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Joanne Bagshaw Ph.D.

Top 5 Feminist Moments in 2015

Favorite moments in feminism.

I like to end the year on a positive note, and so I reflected on my favorite feminist moments in 2015. Here is my list of memorable moments and events from the past year: 

1) Marriage Equality was declared a constitutional right by the Supreme Court. Although I could argue that marriage itself is a heteronormative concept, marriage equality is a win for feminism just as it is for love. Marriage equality changes the image of marriage. Feminists have long argued that marriage is an institution that subjugates women, and studies have indicated that marriage doesn’t necessarily benefit women, a possible underlying cause as to why most divorces are initiated by women. However, same-sex marriages give us an egalitarian template of marriage, one that doesn’t rely on out-dated stereotypes and beliefs about gender roles, and may lead to greater satisfaction among couples 

2) Women in Combat: The Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter announced in early December that combat roles are now open to women. The thing is, women have already been serving in combat-- for many years--but they haven’t been recognized for doing so. In 2011, the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), put together a fact sheet that details the discrimination and hostile work environment women in the military face daily, from working for a system that defines their work responsibilities in opposition to what they actually do. It's time for women in the military to be recognized for their risks and achievements. 

3) Bree Newsome, bad ass activist, climbed the South Carolina Statehouse pole and yanked down the Confederate Flag as symbolic gesture to dismantle White supremacy. A day after the Charleston Massacre, Newsome decided to engage in an act of civil disobedience and “demonstrate the power people have…when working together.” Newsome faced arrest and criticism, and despite the pro-confederacy flag rally afterwards, and the fact that the flag was quickly replaced, she remains my “shero” for taking action and giving us an image of intentional, calm, and courageous activism. 

Getty Images/Mark Wilson
Source: Getty Images/Mark Wilson

4) Cecile Richards. Speaking of bad-ass women, the President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, was grilled for hours at an all day House Committee Hearing investigating Planned Parenthood. The hearing was notably heated, she was routinely interrupted, attacked with mischaracterizations, blatant sexist questions, out right lies and false evidence (most notably, Jason Chaffetz’s “chart”). Despite the spectacle created during the hearing, and the tactics used repeatedly to unsettle her, Richards remained calm, straightforward, confident, and defiant throughout the hearing. 

5) Brain Science. A study conducted by Joel and others (2015), reviewed over 1400 brain scans and an analysis showed that there’s no such thing as a male or female brain. Instead, the brain is more like a “mosaic” and there may be some characterisitcs  more common--but not exclusive--to either gender. Studies like this prevent pseudo- scientific theories on gender from explaining away socially constructed gender roles and stereotypes as actual biological differences. 

There were plenty of other stand out feminist moments this past year. I gave you my favorites, what are yours? Please share in the comments below. 

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