Yes, 2015 Was The Most Feminist Year In Entertainment Yet
In 2014, right before the ball dropped, Time talked about creating a "better feminism" for 2015. While Emma Watson was saying the word in front of the United Nations (even though she recently claimed they would have preferred she didn't) and Beyoncé was dancing in front of a neon sign declaring it at the MTV VMAs, feminism was still something that some considered taboo. Time even questioned in their end of the year poll whether the word "feminist" should be banned. After a whole slew of thinkpieces were written, Time offered an apology — "we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice" — and certainly knew that no one was interested in banning the word anytime soon. So in 2015, we did create a better feminism, one that encourages women to speak out, stand together and strive for more. More pay. More accolades. More everything they could get their hands on. Women in entertainment were certainly up for this challenge, making their voices heard and making strides to a more equal future.
Some like Jennifer Lawrence chose to speak out, encouraging women to strive for equal pay in an essay for Lena Dunham's feminist newsletter Lenny, which aims to bring feminist ideas to subscribers' inboxes. In the piece, Lawrence spoke frankly about not being paid as much as her male costars, and put some blame on herself and her desire to be liked. “I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ At the time, that seemed like a fine idea," she wrote. "Until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’” She noted that her pay discrepancy was about a wage that was already in the millions, joking that her fight wasn't exactly relatable — but, she also made the point that many women were in the same position and that made it an important debate, no matter how much money was in question.
Additionally, in a speech at Glamour 's Women of the Year Awards, Reese Witherspoon encouraged women to take charge and be their own bosses instead of relying on someone else to hire them. She talked about creating her own production company, Pacific Standard, because no one else was offering the kind of roles she wanted to play as a woman over 30. Now, she has over 25 films in development and three television shows that have "female leads of different ages and different races and different jobs. Some are astronauts, some are soldiers, some are scientists, one is even a Supreme Court justice. They’re not just good or bad; they’re bold and hunted and dangerous and triumphant like the real women we meet every single day of our lives." But the point she really made was that ambition is not a dirty word. "It’s just believing in yourself and your abilities," she said. "Imagine this: What would happen if we were all brave enough to be a little bit more ambitious? I think the world would change."
And we're starting to see the change ambitious women can bring about in Hollywood. After many female directors spoke out about discrimination in the field, an investigation was launched by the Feds into the lack of female directors being hired. The stats are staggering: Women currently receive only 16 percent of the episodic TV directing jobs, and last year directed less than five percent of the major studio releases. The women who were brave enough to speak out about gender inequality in the workplace have now made it clear that Hollywood is not above the law.
Others women this year let their work do all the talking. Amy Schumer wrote and starred in her first movie Trainwreck, and also won an Emmy for her show Inside Amy Schumer where she combatted sexism with a clever send-up of the classic film 12 Angry Men (in which 12 men debated whether she was hot enough to be on television). With 25, Adele sold all the albums and broke the record for most copies sold in its first week — obliterating the record that was previously held by *NSYNC — while Viola Davis' achievement to become the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series was 66 years in the making.
During her acceptance speech, Davis said, "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there." Her role on How To Get Away With Murder was created by Shonda Rhimes, who is dominating ABC with her Shondaland lineup on Thursday nights that encourages everyone to sit down, pour a glass of red wine and tweet along with all the twists and turns she's plotted out for them.
Also, Tina Fey returned to TV (kind of) with her Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt that picked up where Liz Lemon left off: proving females are strong as hell.
Speaking of strong women, television finally gave us not one, but two female superheroes with Supergirl and Jessica Jones, who have proved men aren't the only ones fighting crime and saving lives. And more importantly, that a lot of people want to watch them do both those things. We saw more diverse women hit the small screen with Taraji P. Henson killing it as Cookie over on Empire, while Constance Wu was one funny mother on Fresh Off The Boat. Additionally, Broad City's Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson addressed rape culture in the funniest and smartest way we've ever seen, making YASS QUEEN a mantra not just a catchphrase.
Additionally, Serena Williams shut down a reporter who asked her why she wasn't smiling by simply telling him how dumb a question that was — hopefully, banning that question forever before being named Sports Illustrated 's 2015 Sportsperson of the Year. (She was the first woman to receive the award since track world champion Mary Decker won in 1983.)
Even Time decided to take their own advice and be a little more feminist, honoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel as their Person of the Year — the first woman to be given the title since 1986.
Some of these moments in 2015 were monumental, some of them were small, but all of them were feminist. Here's to building on the strides women made this year in 2016 and every year after.