The Women’s March on January 21 set the tone of outrage and empowerment that played out for most of 2017.
I love that just days after the Women’s March, Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam singles title, competing fiercely while two months pregnant. In September, Williams gave birth to Alexis Olympia, and she plans to be back on the court in 2018. Now that’s woman power!
In February, Adele earned Song of the Year and Record of the Year Grammys for her beloved and much parodied single “Hello.” She also won the Grammy for Best Album. Everyone agreed that Beyonce, whose album Lemonade had massive cultural impact, was robbed.
In April, Bill O’Reilly was the first of many famous men to lose their jobs for sexual harassment and intimidation of women. The right wing blowhard was sacked for misconduct that reportedly cost him and FOX News up to $45 million in settlements with victims.
Later in the year, after The New York Times published an expose about movie producer Harvey Weinstein reports about sexual harassment multiplied.
Which story was sleaziest? That Weinstein committed his alleged assaults after being supplied with penile injectors in brown bags by his assistants? Or that Louis CK mentioned “my dick” and the admiration his victims had for him multiple times in his masturbatory apology? Yuck.
In a federal courtroom in Denver, Taylor Swift set a powerful example for sexual assault survivors, shredding the man who groped her during a pre-concert photo session in 2013. “I’m not going to allow you or your client to make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” Swift said to the groper’s attorney.
Swift won the judgment, cut a big check to a victim services organization, and went on to promote her latest platinum-selling LP, Reputation. Its theme: Defiance.
Wonder Woman kicked ass at the box office this summer, elevating the utterly winning Gal Gadot to superstardom. Like Lynda Carter before her, Gadot has enthusiastically embraced the dual task of being a fictional and real-life role model.
The MTV Movie and TV Awards became the first major entertainment competition with gender-neutral categories. Emma Watson won Best Movie Actor for “Beauty and the Beast” and Millie Bobby Brown won as Best TV Actor for “Stranger Things.”
HBO aired the seventh season of Game of Thrones. Its big reveal about the true heir to the throne of Westeros seemed secondary to the ongoing Battle of the Queens: Cersei v. Daenerys. Not to be outdone, the sharp-tongued Queen of Thorns, played by Diana Rigg, made an exit that gob-smacked her executioner and millions of viewers worldwide.
HBO’s Big Little Lies, with its all-star female cast and theme of domestic violence, swept the Emmy Awards for a Limited Series. The show, starring and produced by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, ended with a truly “OMG” climax.
In late September, Germans voted Angela Merkel, the leader of the free world, into a fourth term as Chancellor. Wedding bells pealed across Germany days later when same sex marriage became legal. Australia’s Parliament followed Germany’s example in December with the first same sex marriages expected to be celebrated Down Under in January 2018.
Here’s hoping that the anger and hope unleashed in 2017 turns into renewed activism in voting booths and communities next year.
Jamakaya is an award-winning writer and historian based in Milwaukee.