Society and Culture

2014: The Year of Feminism

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It’s no secret that feminism became a huge talking point in the news and on the web this year. More than ever before, we saw women standing up for themselves and calling out the bullshit that is gender inequality. We still have more to do, but let’s just take a moment to appreciate the progress that was made this year thanks to some amazing women–and men–who took up the feminist mantle.


In May, after 22-year-old Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree in California blaming women for rejecting him sexually, women and men took to Twitter, using the hashtag #YesAllWomen to share stories of misogyny they have experienced.

The hashtag received several hundred tweets a second, and just four days after its inception had reached over 1.2 million tweets. It is still going strong, and the solidarity shown by the men and women in the face of sexism and misogyny reached further than most attempts previously.

Calling out catcallers became an internet phenomenon

After one woman’s Cards Against Harassment campaign went viral on YouTube, catcalling became a much-discussed issue on the internet.

The debate centered around whether or not catcallers were being complimentary, and if women should just ignore it. Short answer: street harassment is harassment, and is not a compliment.

Later in the year, a woman walked around Manhattan for ten hours to record the catcalls she received during the day.

Which of course, prompted misogynists everywhere to focus on justifying the behavior of the men in the video, not the woman receiving the harassment. This video too, went viral, and currently has just shy of 40 million views on YouTube.

The media response included a debate on CNN, where the man in the video tries to justify the employment of catcalling. This video also circulated the web after he is completely shut down for his misogynistic views.

Hopefully the women at CNN taught men everywhere something with their debate. Women are speaking up and out against harassment from strangers, but the fight is long from over.

Beyonce’s Feminist Performance

Millions watched the MTV Video Music Awards this year, where Beyonce literally lit up the stage with her feminism. She showed women everywhere that you can be proud of your sexuality, be a wife, a mother, dance sexy, and be famous while still calling yourself a feminist. She did it all while broadcasting one of my favorite feminist quotes of all time:

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man…Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, economic equality of the sexes.

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Whether you like her music or not, it cannot be denied that Beyonce is at the forefront of feminist celebrities fighting for the cause.

Emma Watson’s UN Speech

Another feminist celebrity, who was named by the Ms. Foundation as the Top Celebrity Feminist of 2014, is Emma Watson. As an ambassador for the United Nations, the former Harry Potter star shook up the world with her speech on gender equality.

She called men and women to action, detailing how it is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of gender, to seek equality for both sexes. She stated, “both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.”

Male feminists on the rise

They have always existed, sometimes silently supporting the rise of feminism in the 21st century, but the year 2014 saw even more men joining their female counterparts in vocalizing their discontent with society. Even more men took their cues from celebrity male feminists like Joseph Gordon Levitt and Aziz Ansari, who proudly wore the title of feminist while explaining to men everywhere why it just makes sense for men to support gender equality. If you think men and women should have equal rights, you’re a feminist.

The number of women in Congress shot up

For the first time in American history, there are over 100 women in Congress. Yes, it still makes up less than one-fifth of the seats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, but that record breaking triple-digit number is extremely encouraging. We are still a ways off from having the 50/50 ratio that would represent the United States population, but the fact that so many women were elected this year gives us evidence that times are changing.

Morgan McMurray
Morgan McMurray is an editor and gender equality blogger based in Seattle, Washington. A 2013 graduate of Iowa State University, she has a Bachelor of Arts in English, Journalism, and International Studies. She spends her free time writing, reading, teaching dance classes, and binge-watching Netflix. Contact Morgan at



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