12 Feminist Icons To Look To In 2017

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If you're in need of inspiration, a list of modern day feminist icons to look to in 2017 isn't a terrible place to start. While this won't provide the definitive last word on the topic (what would happen to the internet if it did?), if you're looking to explore writers, activists, and performers who are interested and engaged in feminism, this could be a good place to start.

Obviously, there are all manner of resources you can look to if you'd like to dig deeper. Twitter is often where feminist voices congregate (though, as with basically any form of social media, trolls abound, too), while, if you're looking for offline sources, consulting classic feminist works isn't a bad idea. The great thing about the internet is that information about feminism as a political movement is literally at your fingertips, though the risk is that misinformation runs rampant as well. But if you're reading this, I'm going to assume that you're genuinely interested in learning more about that hot button "f-word," and I'll do my best to help you on that journey.

Here's hoping you find all manner of inspiration for your activism, writing, and thinking on gender in the following examples.

1Ash Sarkar

Demand the Impossible on YouTube

Sarkar is a writer, an activist, and a senior editor at Novara Media, an "independent media organization addressing the issues... set to define the 21st century." She's good at calling out the failures of white feminism and is eloquent about issues of privilege and race (OK, and pretty much everything else).

2Laverne Cox

After author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave an interview in the BBC in which she claimed she saw a difference in the privileges experienced by cis and trans women, the transgender Orange Is The New Black star penned a series of tweets (without specifically addressing Adichie) about her experience and clarified that "gender exists on a spectrum & the binary narrative which suggests that all trans women transition from male privilege erases a lot of experiences and isn’t intersectional." Cox's is a vital voice in a field in which which TERFs still dominate.

3Amandla Stenberg

Hype Hair Magazine on YouTube

Prior to 2015, you probably primarily knew Stenberg for their work in the Hunger Games movies. The teen isn't just a natural performer, but also has a natural knack for condensing nuanced topics into powerful videos and posts. After their "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows" video, in which they ask “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?” went viral, they've discussed beauty standards in a SuperSoul Session titled "My Authenticity Is My Activism" and co-authored a comic book series Niobe: She Is Life with a Black female lead.

4Jill Soloway

JoBlo TV Show Trailers on YouTube

The Transparent writer/producer/director recently defined her vision of "The Female Gaze" in a keynote address at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival — something that must have come in useful when adapting Chris Kraus' cult female-lust novel I Love Dick into a TV series for Amazon. If you've got a spare hour, it's a talk that's well worth watching.

5Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

wearepussyriot on YouTube

The Russian political activist, conceptual artist, and member of the anti-Putinist punk band Pussy Riot's Rolling Stone interview was educational about living in a country in which it's actually dangerous to identify as the f-word. She explained that the court documents at her trial stated she is "against the Russian Federation… because I call myself a feminist."

6Janelle Monáe

Democracy Now! on YouTube

Because the musician and activist's speech at the Women's March was the most powerful moment in a memorable day.

7Serena Williams

Scott Barbour/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Winning the Australian Open Final while eight weeks pregnant is not necessarily a feminist act, but it was still a powerful moment dismissing the idea that women's biology renders them weaker than men.

8Reshma Qureshi

makelovenotscarsorg on YouTube

Model, activist, and vlogger Qureshi was attacked with sulfuric acid in 2014. Since then, she's become the face of non-profit organization Make Love Not Scars, advocating against the sale of acid via making beauty tutorials and raising awareness by walking the runways for Archana Kochhar at the 2016 New York Fashion Week.  

9Rebecca Solnit

What you knew: she's the woman behind the hilarious mansplaining critique Men Explain Things To Me. What you're possibly less aware of: she's been an environmental and human rights activist for decades, making her the perfect person to pen Hope In The Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities, a "radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable."

10Shon Faye

Novara Media on YouTube

Of course, feminist videos and articles don't necessarily have to be entertaining. But it certainly makes London-based writer and lawyer Faye's work (and insightful tweets) about transphobia, homophobia, body image, privilege, and mental health all the more engaging.  

11Margaret Atwood

OK, hardly a brand-new name in feminism, but the Hulu adaptation of her novel The Handmaid's Tale is bringing her dark dystopian vision (all of which is based on things that have actually happened to women throughout history) of life under a brutal patriarchal American society to a whole new generation of women at exactly the right moment.

12Rupi Kaur

rupikaur_ on Instagram

Kaur was first catapulted into the headlines in 2015, when she fought Instagram's censoring of a photo of her lying in bed with her pajamas stained with menstrual blood. She continued to fight back by publishing short poems on the social media channel that tackled taboo topics like rape and abuse.

This list is by no means definitive, but it's certainly a start.