This Summer's 9 Best Feminist Moments in Pop Culture From Beyonce's VMAs Performance to Free the Nipple

INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: Honoree Beyonce performs onstage during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Source: Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Summer 2014 has been a surprisingly good summer for feminism. Oh, sure, we've had some hiccups here and there. Lil' Kim restarting her feud with Nicki Minaj and Sofia Vergara's 2014 Primetime Emmys "joke" come immediately to mind as examples. However, there are standout moments and events from the summer that make the feminist in me want to cry warm tears of joy. Now that it's September, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on exactly how the representation and perception of feminism in pop culture has changed. 

As always, feminism still has a long way to go. The stigma attached to labeling yourself a feminist hasn't faded, even though many celebrities have gone to great lengths to prove that stigma shouldn't be there. The nine things below might not be the most important feminist victories to ever happen, or even a comprehensive list of all the feminist moments to happen in Summer 2014, but these things big and small give a pretty bright picture of where the future of feminism is headed. 

Between Beyoncé announcing herself to be a proud feminist during her 16 minute VMAs performance and "Bang Bang" being the female anthem we've been waiting for since "Lady Marmalade", here are nine feminist moments from this summer that should give you a little hope.

1. Beyoncé's VMAs performance

If you were Beyoncé, what would you do with your fame once it was at its absolute peak? If you answered anything other than close out your 2014 VMAs performance by posing in front of a giant glowing sign that says FEMINIST, then you aren't worthy of the crown. If Bey's display is what it takes for people to finally start to realize that feminist is not a bad word, then it was well worth it.

2. Taylor Swift's feminist awakening

After a rash of celebrities who seem all too eager to start a sentence with the phrase "I'm not a feminist but..." it was refreshing to have Taylor Swift come forward to talk about her feminist awakening and how the word feminism doesn't mean what everyone seems to think that it means. Considering the influence Swift has over her large fan base, that means a lot.

3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt coming out as a feminist

Of course, feminism isn't just for women as in another popular misconception. Joseph Gordon-Levitt shared his thoughts on feminism — with bonus confusion as to why anyone would side against it — and made the world's population fall in love with him all over again. If you're not in love with Gordon-Levitt right now, I have nothing to say to you.

4. Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea's "Feud"

When Nicki Minaj said that she had no respect for people who didn't write their own rhymes, people immediately thought she was throwing shade Iggy Azalea's way. Not only did Minaj immediately say she wasn't throwing shade at Azalea, but even Azalea responded to the non-diss with a neutral statement that proved neither woman had the time or the interest in being pitted against one another. Sorry not sorry.

5. "Bang Bang"

Three super stars. One rocking anthem. Enough said.

6. A Wrinkle in Time

Does this count as a summer moment if it hasn't technically happened yet? The director of Frozen is adapting A Wrinkle in Time as her next project and considering Frozen is probably the most feminist-friendly, Bechdel Test passing movie that Disney has ever done, I hope you can understand why I preemptively consider this a feminist occurence. 

7. Leighton Meester's Of Mice and Men essay

When Leighton Meester was starring in a Broadway production of Of Mice and Men, Meester took the time to write an essay about the story that was refreshingly feminist. She spoke of her role as Curley's wife in the play and how the audience and the other characters are supposed to hate her and demean her without even understanding why. It's worth a read or ten.

8. The Free the Nipple campaign

Scout Willis' Free the Nipple campaign bewildered a lot of people, but even if you don't agree with her message or her words you've got to at least admit that her point is valid. The stigma against displaying the female form, even for something as innocuous as breastfeeding, is a huge double standard that still exists in our world and it's admirable of Willis to try to do something about it.

9. Lena Dunham

Between her approval of Swift's feminist awakening to her support of the birth control conversation to her appreciation for Mackenzie Davis's explanation of why she's not afraid to be called a feminist, can we just agree that Lena Dunham is a walking feminist moment? Yes? Okay.

Image: Disney; Getty Images

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