35 Inspiring Feminist Moments From 2015

💁All the women, independent, throw your hands up at me.💁
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Women had a pretty kickass year.

As 2015 comes to a close, it's important to look back at what has been accomplished over the last 12 months. While this year had its dark spots, there were some undeniably awesome moments for women. Between the U.S. National Soccer team winning the Women's World Cup, the U.S. military opening all combat roles to women and Amber Rose's slut walk, 2015 was quite the year for women.

To celebrate, we've rounded up 35 of the most inspiring, badass, and yes, feminist, moments of the year. Here's hoping next year's list is even longer.

Viola Davis Became The First Black Woman To Win An Emmy For Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Getty Images/The Huffington Post
Viola Davis won our hearts time and time again this past year, but the most swoon-worthy moment came during the 2015 Emmy Awards in September. Davis won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Annalise Keating on "How to Get Away with Murder." The win cemented Davis' place in history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for a lead role in a drama series.

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," Davis said in her acceptance speech. "You can not win an Emmy for roles that simply are not there."
The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Reminded Everyone That Playing Like A Girl Is Awesome
Maddie Meyer - FIFA via Getty Images
On July 5, the U.S. Women's National Soccer team defeated Japan to win the FIFA World Cup. According to Fox Sports, the match was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. television history for women or men. So yes, people are interested in watching women's sports.

In October, President Obama praised the Women's National Soccer team and thanked the players for challenging stereotypes about women in sports. He said the athletes had “inspired girls to dream bigger -- and by the way, inspired millions of boys to look at girls differently, which is just as important," later adding, "This team taught all of America’s children that 'playing like a girl' means you're a badass."
Caitlyn Jenner Introduced Her Authentic Self On The Cover Of Vanity Fair
In April, former Olympic athlete and father figure of the Kardashian clan, Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender to her family and the world in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC. But it wasn't until June that Caitlyn announced she was living as her authentic self with a gorgeous Vanity Fair cover photo of her new identity as a woman. The cover was featured in the July issue of Vanity Fair which included a photo shoot of Caitlyn taken by Annie Leibovitz.

Although Jenner is an imperfect role model and has faced valid criticism from some trans people and trans allies, her public coming out process undeniably expanded the dialogue about trans representation and discrimination.

As Jenner wrote in a tweet the same day the Vanity Fair article came out: "I'm so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can't wait for you to get to know her/me."
Misty Copeland Became The First Black Female Principal Dancer In American Ballet Theater History
Brad Barket/BET via Getty Images
In June, 32-year-old Misty Copeland broke down barriers when she became the first black female principle dancer in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theater.

As Copeland said at the April 2015 TIME 100 Gala: "I never saw a ballerina who looked like me before. And I’m here to be a vessel for all these brown ballerinas who have come before me."
Jennifer Lawrence Wrote A Passionate Essay About The Wage Gap
Juan Naharro Gimenez via Getty Images
In October, Jennifer Lawrence published an essay in Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter about Hollywood sexism and her experience with pay inequality.

Lawrence explained that she didn't want to be deemed "difficult" or "spoiled" by demanding more money. But now she realizes there's nothing bratty about demanding to be paid equally to her male colleagues. "I’m over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that," she wrote.
Amandla Stenberg Called Out How Black Women's Bodies Are Treated
Gregg DeGuire via Getty Images
In July, 16-year-old actress Amandla Stenberg dropped some serious knowledge in a post on Instagram when she highlighted the double standards black women face every day. “Black features are beautiful, black women are not,” Stenberg wrote. “White women are paragons of virtue and desire, black women are objects of fetishism and brutality."

“Deeply ingrained into culture is the notion that black female bodies, at the intersection of oppression, are less than human and therefore unattractive,” she wrote. “When the media is not ignoring black women altogether, they are disparaging them."

Read the rest of Stenberg's post here.
Adele Destroyed The Male Gaze On The Cover Of Rolling Stone

RS x @rollingstone

A photo posted by @adele on

Adele's photo on the cover of Rolling Stone's November issue was different from most. Instead of a wet, white tank top and no bra, the singer was featured in a white bath robe, wearing barely any make up in a close headshot.

"Adele’s expression wears none of the self-consciousnesses that comes with being watched. She’s defiant, if a little perturbed," Kat George wrote in Noisey. "With one look, she’s telling us more about herself, and her expectations of us, than a woman on the cover of a magazine usually does."

Not to mention, she was the first artist to sell 3 million album copies in a week. All hail Adele.
Matt McGorry Summed Up Why Everyone Should Be Feminists
"Orange Is The New Black" and "How To Get Away With Murder" star Matt McGorry came out as a feminist this year -- and he's been a wonderfully vocal one ever since.

In August, McGorry broke down why everyone should be a feminist in less than 140 characters. Well said, Mr. McGorry.
New York Magazine Featured 35 Of Bill Cosby's Accusers In A Stirring Cover Story
For their July issue, New York Magazine interviewed 35 of the now-over-60 women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault.

While the feature story included each woman's account of the alleged sexual assaults, the most striking part of the feature was the cover photo that included all 35 women sitting in chairs, with one empty chair at the end. The empty chair symbolizes all the survivors of sexual assault who aren't able to come forward with their stories.

Head over to New York Magazine to read the entire feature.
Hillary Clinton Announced Her Run For President
Scott Olson via Getty Images
Although we all knew it was coming, the moment when Hillary Clinton officially announced she would seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 was pretty sweet.

The former Secretary of State announced her run in a video posted on her campaign website on April 12. "I'm running for president," Clinton said in the video. "Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion so you can do more than just get by."
Amy Schumer Perfectly Captured Misogyny In Action With Her "12 Angry Men" Parody
In a genius episode of "Inside Amy Schumer," the comedian highlighted how a woman's worth is so often measured by her beauty. In the sketch, Schumer is quite literally put on trial to figure out if she is "hot enough" to be on television.

The verdict? “The jury agreed they would bang you," Dennis Quaid, who plays the judge, tells Schumer. "You’re hot enough for basic television.”
Gabourey Sidibe Shut Down Fat Shamers Like A Boss
Andrew H. Walker via Getty Images
In November, "Empire" aired an episode that featured a sex scene with actress Gabourey Sidibe and co-star Mo McRae. Sidibe, who happens to be plus-size, completely owned the scene, but sadly enough the scene generated a few mean-spirited memes fat-shaming Sidibe.

The 32-year-old actress had no problem shutting down the haters in an essay for Entertainment Weekly, writing:

"I, a plus sized, dark-skinned woman, had a love scene on primetime television. I had the most fun ever filming that scene even though I was nervous. But I felt sexy and beautiful and I felt like I was doing a good job. I’m very proud of the work we all did to make that scene a great opening for the episode. I keep hearing that people are 'hating' on it. I’m not sure how anyone could hate on love but that’s okay. You may have your memes. Honestly, I’m at work too busy to check Twitter anyway." Preach.
Gloria Steinem Dedicated Her Book To The Doctor That Performed Her Illegal Abortion In 1957
Robin Marchant via Getty Images
In a moving excerpt, Gloria Steinem dedicated her new book MyLife On The Road to Dr. John Sharpe who performed her illegal abortion when she was 22 years old.

"Knowing that she had broken an engagement at home to seek an unknown fate, he said, 'You must promise me two things. First, you will not tell anyone my name. Second, you will do what you want to do with your life,'" Steinem wrote. "Dear Dr. Sharpe, I believe you, who knew the law was unjust, would not mind if I say this so long after your death: I've done the best I could with my life. This book is for you."
The Supreme Court Legalized Same-Sex Marriage In All 50 States
Bloomberg via Getty Images
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it is legal for any American to marry the person they love -- no matter their gender or sexual orientation.

Now women can marry the women they love because love always wins.
Two Officers Became The First Women To Graduate From The U.S. Army’s Ranger School
First Women To Graduate From The Army's Elite Ranger School

Two female officers have completed training in what is considered one of the most difficult military programs and will graduate alongside their male classmates. (via NowThis)

Posted by The Huffington Post on Tuesday, August 18, 2015
In August, 1st Lt. Kristen Griest and Capt. Shaye Haver became the first women to graduate from the U.S. Army’s prestigious Ranger School. The Ranger School is considered one of the most difficult military programs in the country.

Both Griest and Haver are in their 20s and graduated from West Point.
Feminist Activists Created #ShoutYourAbortion To Challenge The Stigma That Surrounds Reproductive Health
In September, activists Lindy West, Amelia Bonow and Kimberly Morrison created the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion on Twitter in response to the news that the House had voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

Women used the hashtag to tell their abortion stories and allies used it to show their support for a woman's right to choose.

"There are no 'good' abortions and 'bad' abortions, because an abortion is just a medical procedure, reproductive healthcare is healthcare, and it is a fact without caveat that a fetus is not a person," West wrote in The Guardian. "Telling our stories at full volume chips away at stigma, at lies, at the climate of shame that destroys the lives (sometimes literally) of women and girls and anyone anywhere on the gender spectrum who can become pregnant."
Serena Williams Flawlessly Shut Down A Reporter Who Asked Her Why She Wasn't Smiling

A reporter asked her why she didn't smile and laugh after the match...this was Serena's response LMAO #TheQueen

Posted by Aaron Squintz Davis on Wednesday, September 9, 2015
After winning a U.S. Open match on Sept. 8, Serena Williams was not in the mood to smile. When a male reporter asked Williams why she didn't smile after her win, the tennis star had the perfect response.

"To be perfectly honest with you, I don't want to be here," Williams said. "I just want to be in bed right now and I have to wake up early to practice. And I don't want to answer any of these questions, and you guys keep asking me the same questions. You're not making it super enjoyable. Just being honest."

Yaaas Queen Serena.
Senator Claire McCaskill Kindly Encouraged Men To "Shut The Hell Up"
In November, Sen. Claire McCaskill released what may be one of the best videos on the Internet of all time. In the public service announcement which aired on the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert," McCaskill kindly asked men everywhere to "shut the hell up."

"As one of just 20 women currently in the Senate, it's important to me to encourage more women to run for office," McCaskill said. "But equally important is encouraging more men to sometimes just shut the hell up. It's not that women don't value your thoughts, it's just that we don't value all of them. The world doesn't need your opinion on everything. For example, what women do with their bodies. Hush."
The #SayHerName Campaign Highlighted The Value Of Black Women Within The #BlackLivesMatter Movement
AAPF/Mia Fermindoza
The #SayHerName campaign was created to amplify the stories of black women who have died at the hands of police. Because black women's lives matter, too.

As activist Dream Hampton told The Huffington Post last February: "We have always only framed this as a black male problem, and it is time to tell the entire truth about who police violence and terrorism happens to."
A Women's Health Clinic Attempted To "De-Medicalize" Abortions By Creating A Spa-Like Abortion Clinic
In March, Carafem, an abortion clinic right outside of Washington D.C., decided to make the process of ending an unwanted pregnancy a little easier by creating a spa-like atmosphere for patients.

Women speak with doctors and staff in small, private rooms that are comfortable and don't include intimidating medical equipment. Instead of moving from room to room to get different tests, the patient stays in one room and staff comes to them.

Melissa S. Grant, a former Planned Parenthood director who is now Carafem's vice president of health services, explained to The Washington Post why this change was so necessary. “It was important for us to try to present an upgraded, almost spa-like feel,” Grant said, adding to HuffPost, "There is a myth that abortion clinics are lonely and scary places. That doesn't have to be true."
Target Announced They Are Phasing Out Gender-Based Signs In Stores
Vince Talotta via Getty Images
In August, Target took a bold step when they announced a new non-gendered policy. The retailer said that they will no longer have signs with "boy" and "girl" qualifiers in certain departments such as toys and bedding.

"Over the past year, guests have raised important questions about a handful of signs in our stores that offer product suggestions based on gender," Target wrote in a blog. "In some cases, like apparel, where there are fit and sizing differences, it makes sense. In others, it may not."

The retailer noted that they are working to "identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance."
Amber Rose Led A Slutwalk To Combat Slut-Shaming
David Livingston via Getty Images
In October, model and artist Amber Rose hosted a slut walk in downtown Los Angeles to speak out against slut-shaming and create a safe space for women.

The former dancer held signs that read: "Strippers have feelings too," and "Don't tell me how to dress! Tell them not to rape!" Her mom even walked with her in an awesome show of support.

"I decided to have this slut walk for women who have been through shit," Rose said in a speech at the event. "And even though I’m out here crying, I want to be the strong person that you guys can look up to.”
We Finally Got Some Serious Lady Superheroes
"Supergirl" and "Jessica Jones" graced our TV screens this year, finally giving us some female superheroes we can really believe in. Both shows bring a distinctively feminist tone to the screen with "Supergirl" being a bit more dreamy than the dark and gritty "Jessica Jones."

CBS' "Supergirl" is a welcomed character to the dude-dominated superhero landscape with a slightly campy, yet empowering feel. Meanwhile, "Jessica Jones" is a superhero, but without all the glitz and glamour. The Netflix show delves into some important conversations about consent and abuse.

Each is worth a watch. Now all we're waiting for is more lady superheroes of color.
Kiran Gandhi Free Bled When She Ran A Marathon To Fight Period Shaming

A photo posted by Kiran Gandhi (@madamegandhi) on

In April, New York City-native Kiran Gandhi decided to run all 26 miles of the London Marathon without a tampon while she was on her period, also known as free bleeding.

In an essay on Medium, Gandhi added: "I trained for a year and then [the marathon] happened and it really was an epic, epic thing. We ran for women who can’t show their periods in public and for women who can’t compete in athletic events. We ran for our friends who have suffered through period cramps at work and for women who have survived breast cancer."
A 109-Year-Old Woman Said Her Secret To A Long Life Was Avoiding Men
HuffPost Live
In January, 109-year-old Jessie Gallan told The Daily Mail that the "secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They're just more trouble than they're worth."

Last year when the Scotland-native turned 108, she said her secret to a healthy life was porridge. Sounds like a good plan to us.
Reese Witherspoon Reminded Us That Ambition Isn't A Dirty Word
Larry Busacca via Getty Images
At the Glamour Women Of The Year Awards this past November, actress Reese Witherspoon gave a riveting speech about female ambition and why there's no reason to be scared of it.

"What is it in life that you think you can’t accomplish? Or what is it that people have said that you cannot do? Wouldn’t it feel really good to prove them all wrong?" Witherspoon asked the crowd. "Because I believe ambition is not a dirty word. It’s just believing in yourself and your abilities. Imagine this: What would happen if we were all brave enough to be a little bit more ambitious? I think the world would change."

Hell yes, Reese.
Nicki Minaj Demanded An Orgasm Like The Boss She Is
Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images
Queen Nicki does not hold back -- and in an interview for Cosmopolitan's July issue the rapper did not mince words.

"I demand that I climax," Minaj said. "I think women should demand that. I have a friend who's never had an orgasm in her life. In her life! That hurts my heart.'"
"UnREAL" Depicted The Unvarnished Reality Of Female Masturbation
In an episode of Lifetime's TV show "UnREAL" one of the main characters, Rachel, is shown masturbating in the back on a van to porn on her iPhone.

"The scene isn't 'sexy' -- there's no lingerie, no tousled sheets, no moaning, no male-gazey camera shots. While the fantasy of a 'Bachelor'-like dating world is being created outside of the production van, the audience watches the real part of 'UnREAL' unfold inside," HuffPost's Emma Gray wrote in July.

The scene represented what so many women look like when masturbating: mundane and routine. The more female masturbation we see on the screen, the better. Because there's really nothing wrong with it.
Patricia Arquette Made A Powerful Plea For Wage Equality During Her Oscar Acceptance Speech
Kevin Winter via Getty Images
In January, actress Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in "Boyhood," and used her acceptance speech as a bold plea to fix the wage gap.

"It's our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America," Arquette said to a cheering crowd.

In November, Arquette said more on what she meant that night to HuffPost Live. "Basically what I was saying is I don't know why women are never a part of the conversation," she said. "The women's movement hasn't moved at all... We don't talk about women at all. They're the invisible part of our whole nation, so I was appealing to our great activist leaders to help women, to remember us, to lend their hand, and maybe that's not my place to say."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Explained The Importance Of Gender Equality In Just Three Words
During the swearing-in of Canada's new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trudeau was asked by a reporter why he thought it was so important to build a cabinet that had an equal number of women and men. The prime minister replied: "Because it's 2015."
"Scandal" Featured A Scene Where Olivia Pope Got An Abortion Without Shame
Nicole Wilder via Getty Images
During a November episode of Shonda Rhime's "Scandal," main character Olivia Pope was fighting with her president boyfriend, attending holiday parties, putting out fires, oh and ended an unwanted pregnancy.

Rhimes, in all her infinite wisdom, wrote the scene as a small sub-plot in the episode. Pope never spoke about getting pregnant and she never discussed the decision to have an abortion. Instead, we simply witness Pope get the operation done in a short-scene before continuing on with her life.

"Scandal" presented an abortion scene as not a big deal, which is why it was such a monumental moment for television.
Science Disproved The Myth That Women And Men Have Different Brains
JakeOlimb via Getty Images
Findings from a study published in November showed that women's and men's brains really aren't wired differently.

"Our study demonstrates that although there are sex/gender differences in brain structure, brains do not fall into two classes, one typical of males and the other typical of females, nor are they aligned along a 'male brain-female brain' continuum," study researchers wrote.
Cecile Richards Shut Down Rep. Jason Chaffetz For Using Shady Sources During The Planned Parenthood Congressional Hearings
The Washington Post via Getty Images
At one point during the September Congressional hearings that looked into Planned Parenthood's budget, Rep. Jason Chaffetz displayed a chart that appeared to show Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screenings decreasing as the number of abortions performed by the clinic increased. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was confused and pointed out she had never seen these numbers before.

"You created this slide. I have no idea what it is," Richards said, to which Chaffetz replied that the numbers came "directly out of your corporate reports."

"Excuse me," Richards said, a moment later. "My lawyers have informed me that the source of this is Americans United for Life which is an anti-abortion group so I would check your source."
Monica Lewinsky Took Back Her Narrative In A Powerful TED Talk
TED Talk
In March, Monica Lewinsky gave a much-anticipated TED Talk called "The Price Of Shame." She spoke about what her life was like after it became public knowledge that she was having an affair with former president Bill Clinton.

Now 41, Lewinsky described the slut-shaming and name-calling she endured from the media and online commenters. “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously," she said. “I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo and, of course, ‘that woman.’"

She said she's making her way back into the spotlight now because it’s time. "Time to stop tiptoeing around my past... Time to take back my narrative."
The U.S. Military Opened All Combat Roles To Women
Australian Army WO2 Andrew Hetherington/Combined Team Uruzgan Public Affairs/U.S. Army
On Dec. 3 Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced he will order the military to open all combat jobs to women come 2016.

President Obama praised Carter in a written statement, calling the announcement a "historic step forward." "Our armed forces will draw on an even wider pool of talent. Women who can meet the high standards required will have new opportunities to serve," Obama wrote. "Together, we're going to make sure our military remains the finest fighting force in the history of the world, worthy of all our patriots who serve -- men and women."

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