It is no surprise that Merriam-Webster declared "feminism" the official word of 2017. Despite a hostile administration, numerous attacks on our health care at the federal level and on abortion rights on the state level, women didn’t just survive in 2017 – we thrived.
And we could not have thrived–much less survived–if our feminism hadn’t been intersectional. Our resistance focused on women of color, indigenous women, trans women, immigrant women, and non-abled bodied women. In 2017, women of all identities and backgrounds reached new heights in every facet of American life. From electoral politics to the entertainment industry, women rocked 2017.
Together, we were an army:
1. The Women’s March
Women started off the year with a bang. On January 21, 2017, women led the largest coordinated global act of resistance ever. It is estimated that over 5 million people worldwide marched in protest of Trump’s inauguration, with more than 100,000 right here in Minnesota.
In 2017, women everywhere demanded a cultural shift when they shared their stories of sexual harassment and assault. TIME declared "The Silence Breakers" 2017’s Person of the Year. It is only fitting that Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, will be releasing the Waterford Crystal Ball in Times Square to ring in 2018.
Black women led the Democratic party to the biggest electoral victories of 2017:
3. Virginia Gubernatorial Election
91 percent of Black women voted for the democratic candidate in Virginia’s gubernatorial election- securing access to Planned Parenthood health centers and the opportunity for Medicaid Expansion in the Commonwealth.
4. Alabama Senate Special Election
98 percent of Black women in Alabama overcame systemic and targeted voter suppression to elect Doug Jones (D) to the United States Senate in a special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions.
Trans women, queer women, and women of color were elected to office:
5. Andrea Jenkins
6. Danica Roem
Danica Roem was elected the first openly transgender state lawmaker in Virginia.
7. Jenny Durkan
Jenny Durkan was elected the first lesbian mayor of Seattle and the first woman elected to the position since the 1920s.
8. Kathy Tran
Kathy Tran, a refugee from Vietnam, was elected the first Asian American woman to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates.
9. Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala
Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala defeated Republican incumbents to become the first two Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
Our heroes refused to be silenced by men:
10. Senator Elizabeth Warren
After Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated "She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” The excuse went viral and gave feminists everywhere a powerful new battle cry.
11. Representative Maxine Waters
When Representative Maxine Waters refused to back down to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, citing a procedural rule and repeating the phrase “reclaiming my time” during questioning, it went viral and has come to stand for something even bigger. One publication even called it " the new 'she persisted.'"
12. Carmen Yulin Cruz, Mayor of San Juan
Cruz was a key figure in Puerto Rico’s fight for visibility and resources from the U.S. Government after Hurricane Maria, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Despite sexist attacks from Trump, Cruz refused to be silenced–notably wearing a shirt with the word "nasty" during a TV interview in protest.
Women slayed in the entertainment industry:
13. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus earned her sixth straight win for her role in "Veep" and in the process became the record holder for the most Emmys won for the same role in the same series.
14. Lena Waithe
Lena Waithe became first Black woman to win a comedy writing Emmy for her much-hailed episode of "Master of None" and used her acceptance speech to give hope and inspiration to the LGBTQIA community.
15. Girls Trip
16. Cardi B
Cardi B was the first solo female rapper to top the singles chart in 19 years.
17. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman was the highest-grossing superhero origin film ever. The original character of Wonder Woman was inspired by Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, and her role in the fight for birth control and women’s rights movement.
Two women senators saved the ACA:
18. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Susan Collins
Even though Senator McCain was quickly credited with saving health care with his dramatic "no" vote on the skinny repeal bill in July, two women senators resisted incessant lobbying and threats from the Trump Administration from the beginning of the health care fight. Thank you Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Susan Collins- Senator Collins specifically cited the “defunding” Planned Parenthood amendment in her explanation of her vote against the bill.
And 2017 is just the beginning:
19. Women on the ballot
Women are running for office in record numbers. We must elect more women up and down the ballot in November, especially women of color, indigenous women, immigrant women, and queer women.
YOU made it all possible! You stood up and spoke out against harmful legislation and hatred that you could not tolerate. You hit the streets in protest, you showed solidarity with your neighbors, you called your representatives, and you went to their offices to make your voice heard. You wrote letters to your local papers, had hard conversations with your family and friends and, most importantly, you never gave up.
In 2018, pledge to keep the momentum going. Pledge to hire more women and people of color, shop at more women- and immigrant-owned businesses, and elect reproductive health champions in November. But, in this moment, take the time to bask in the power of women in 2017. As Audre Lorde said, “women are powerful and dangerous.” We all know exactly who should be afraid.