In a 12 months when ladies appeared to dominate each culturally and economically, it was not arduous to search out many feminist moments in popular culture that outlined 2023. Listed here are our high 10 favorites:
10. Rihanna Performs the Tremendous Bowl Halftime Present
With excessive anticipation for pop star Rihanna’s debut efficiency on the Tremendous Bowl’s halftime present earlier this 12 months, only a few anticipated to see a child bump reveal so quickly after she had given delivery to her first little one in 2022. Whereas opinions of the present have been combined, the primary headline centered on how Rihanna turned the primary individual in historical past to carry out the Tremendous Bowl whereas pregnant. This was definitely fairly the feat, because the pop star stored up the tempo with scores of background dancers whereas floating within the air on excessive wires. She went for androgynous costuming, which may have simply camouflaged her pregnant stomach, however she deliberately made her situation a subversive a part of taking on area as a girl dominating such a male-dominated subject (fairly actually!) of soccer and sports activities that night.
Her efficiency at the moment stands because the most-watched Tremendous Bowl halftime present in historical past with over 120 million viewers. (Rewatch it right here.) She gave delivery to a second boy later within the 12 months.
9. Girls Confront Racism on Fictional Reveals
With the elevated presence of ladies of shade throughout tv and streaming providers, it was solely inevitable that their tales and experiences would take heart stage in some inventive, good and provocative methods.
Particular highlights embrace Shonda Rhimes’ Netflix collection Queen Charlotte—a prequel to her immensely widespread Bridgerton—which tackles racism, sexism and psychological sickness within the subtlest of how, whereas trafficking within the escapist fantasy of a Regency-era England open-minded sufficient to tolerate a biracial Queen of England (younger Charlotte performed by India Ria Amarteifio whereas collection common Golda Rosheuvel performed the older queen).
The sixth season of the sci-fi collection Black Mirror stands in stark distinction to Queen Charlotte‘s imaginative and prescient of a racially tolerant British tradition. The present explores the alternate historical past of the postcolonial, anti-immigrant racism of Seventies Britain, with a deal with a South-Asian British working lady (performed by Anjana Vasan) who’s given a possibility to kill her racist oppressors with the assistance of a good-looking Black satan within the episode “Demon 79.”
In a extra realist setting is the confrontational politics of the episode “White Noise” on Apple TV’s Morning Present, highlighting a searing efficiency by Nicole Beharie who performs a tv anchor interviewing an govt who referred to as her a racial slur whereas making an attempt to undercut her wage.
HBO’s The Gilded Age highlighted African American historical past in subtler methods—from Booker T. Washington’s philosophy, to instructional alternatives and the risks of lynching—by the Ida B. Wells-like lady information reporter, depicted by Peggy Scott (performed by Denée Benton).
From fantasy to realism, from historical past to the current, our tales dare to depict us in all our complexities and nuance.
8. Michelle Yeoh Makes Oscars Historical past
With extra appearing roles for girls of shade come extra alternatives to obtain awards. And this 12 months, Michelle Yeoh made Oscar historical past as the primary Asian lady to win the Finest Lead Actress Academy Award for her starring function within the Finest Image winner The whole lot, In every single place, All At As soon as.
In her acceptance speech, the 60-year-old advised us: “Girls, don’t ever let anybody inform you you’re previous your prime!”
Being a girl of shade of a sure age is definitely inspiring, and Yeoh is greater than deserving with a career-spanning oeuvre of critically acclaimed roles. This after all doesn’t imply the Oscars is even remotely on the degree of gender and race equality—as the identical 12 months, it had failed to acknowledge the excellent all-Black solid of the feminist motion drama The Lady King, and snubbed the superb work of Danielle Deadwyler for her function as Mamie Until Mobley within the hard-hitting drama Until.
Nonetheless, it was a touching tribute to have Halle Berry, who made historical past as the primary Black lady to win the Finest Lead Actress Oscar, move the torch to Yeoh throughout its Oscars telecast.
With the rising skills of Aunjanue Ellis in Origin and Native actor Lily Gladstone’s star flip in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon this 12 months, right here is hoping that Yeoh’s win will result in extra common occurrences of award-winning actresses of shade.
7. Girls Lead Award Nominations
If ladies have been a cultural pressure in 2023, this was made evident on the earth of music: For the primary time, ladies dominated award nominations for 2 high prizes in music:
- MTV’s Video Music Awards for Video of the Yr—the place Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” beat out movies by Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo, SZA, Doja Cat and Sam Smith that includes trans lady Kim Petras.
- The Grammy Awards for Album of the Yr—together with SZA main with probably the most nominations, Swift, Cyrus, Rodrigo, Janelle Monáe and Lana Del Rey.
Given how ladies “pop stars” are sometimes dismissed for his or her musicality—compared to, say, “rock stars”—that is fairly the accomplishment and an indicator that girls are driving and shaping the tradition at massive. From Janelle Monáe’s The Age of Pleasure—affirming nonbinary and queer and polyamorous want—to Lana Del Rey’s musically progressive Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Beneath Ocean Blvd, to SZA’s breakup album SOS, which dominated album gross sales for chunk of 2023; these ladies artists tapped into the tradition’s zeitgeist by expertly articulating our collective nervousness, angst, and powerful wishes for escapism.
6. Elevating Girls’s Voices for Hip-Hop’s fiftieth Anniversary
Hip-hop—the last word youth tradition expression—proved it can also develop previous gracefully, and all year long, we witnessed totally different elaborate celebrations of its fiftieth birthday. Whereas typically depicted as a male-dominated style, Ms.‘ “Turning 50” collection highlighted the numerous ladies who’ve formed the tradition from leap: from Cindy Campbell, the sister of DJ Kool Herc, who issued the invites to that first hip-hop occasion, to producer Sylvia Robinson who amplified the music to a commercially viable viewers.
Becoming a member of Ms. on this endeavor to highlight ladies within the tradition, filmmaker and author Dream Hampton premiered her documentary Girls First on Netflix, whereas the Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame inducted Missy Elliott as its first feminine rapper. To not be outdone, the Kennedy Middle Awards chosen rapper Queen Latifah as an honoree, additionally making historical past like Elliott as the primary feminine rapper to obtain this award. Added to those honors, ladies hip-hop artists, from Megan Thee Stallion to Cardi B to Nicki Minaj to newcomers like Ice Spice and Flyana Boss are making waves all through popular culture. No marvel the New York Occasions declared “the way forward for rap is feminine”!
5. Grownup Survivors Act and Its Potential Impression on Music
If the way forward for music is decidedly female-driven, we can not advance with out reconciling with its risky previous.
Drew Dixon, one of many hip-hop voices highlighted in our “Turning 50” collection, has accepted that her legacy is extra than simply facilitating iconic rap information and hip-hop artists. She can be shaping the voices of survivors when she not solely spoke out about sexual harassment and assault within the music trade—by the HBO Max documentary On the Report (2020)—however emerged as a frontrunner pushing for the Grownup Survivors Act in New York, which expired final month however allowed grownup survivors to hunt justice past the statute of limitations for sexual assault and harassment.
With this coverage in place, greater than 2,500 survivors got here ahead—together with Dixon herself who filed a lawsuit towards music govt L.A. Reid—whereas different survivors made accusations towards hip-hop music mogul P. Diddy, amongst others. The way forward for this act is unclear, as is the affect on survivors and people within the music trade with the cultural, social and monetary energy to evade justice.
Regardless of the final result, we salute these survivors, like Dixon, who dare to interrupt the silence and search redress.
4. Fran Drescher’s Management Through the SAG-AFTRA Strikes
Previous to her presidency of the Display screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Theatrical and Radio Actors (SAG-AFTRA), Fran Drescher was most recognized for her titular Emmy-nominated comedic function in The Nanny. However this 12 months, she presided over a 118-day SAG-AFTRA strike, which demanded higher wages for actors and protections towards the rising risk of AI know-how.
Even when higher-end celebrities sought to finish the strike earlier with their very own deal, Drescher stood agency in representing the guild and modeled a distinct form of management of persistence and affect that many have praised. Given the size of the strike and its affect on the leisure panorama, we couldn’t let this 12 months go with out acknowledging a powerful lady chief who wouldn’t again down and not using a combat (and a billion greenback deal).
3. Extra Girls of Shade Featured On (and Off) the Huge Display screen
Simply as with tv and streaming providers, extra ladies of shade are establishing a much bigger presence on and off the large display screen—from terrifying horror tales like Discuss to Me and The Exorcist: Believer, to raunchy comedy just like the all-Asian solid of Pleasure Trip (directed by Adele Lim), to motion adventures like The Marvels (directed by Nia DaCosta, the primary Black lady to helm a big-budgeted superhero blockbuster movie, and starring the multiracial solid of Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani).
Girls are actually entrance and heart and now not merely supporting roles. Even racially controversial strikes, like casting the gorgeous and vocally gifted Halle Bailey within the reside remake of The Little Mermaid, paid off significantly for Disney. Range is a profitable market—opposite to what white supremacists and chauvinistic naysayers consider—and the wave of our current and future.
With as but to be launched motion pictures—from Oprah Winfrey-produced The Shade Purple musical, to Ava DuVernay’s Origin starring Aunjanue Ellis and based mostly on the critically acclaimed e book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson—this pattern doesn’t appear to be fading away. We are able to solely hope this continues in the suitable route.
3. Barbie Tackles the Patriarchy
As a lot as there may be to have fun within the 12 months of ladies in motion pictures, nothing got here near the sheer cultural affect of the box-office-smashing Barbie, the primary film directed by a girl (Greta Gerwig) to attain this standing. It was enjoyable, hilarious, and actually tacked the “patriarchy” in a tongue-in-cheek engagement with feminist principle. That is fairly the journey for a doll that was once dismantled and deconstructed by precise feminist theorists. Now, here’s a movie directed by a decidedly feminist filmmaker well-versed on this discourse and capable of affect a world viewers on problems with gender equality and ladies’s liberation.
What a lesson in feminist artwork opening up our imaginations to assume otherwise concerning the world we want to reside in—whether or not in play (by our Barbie-made doll homes) or within the “actual world.”
1. The Sisterhood and Mixed Star Energy of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift
This 12 months belongs to the mixed star energy of pop stars Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Nobody else dominated our tradition and our economic system like these two. This was, after all, inevitable, given their mass attraction to ladies (in addition to queer and communities of shade to whom Beyoncé devoted her Renaissance period).
When her Renaissance World Tour closed in early October, Beyoncé made historical past as the primary lady and first African American performer with the highest-grossing world tour, making the highest 10 excursions of all time with a gross of $579 million. And to high that off, she circled to jot down, direct and produce a live performance movie documentary based mostly on that very same history-making tour! Not unhealthy for an entertainer who started the 12 months as probably the most adorned Grammy Awards winner.
To not be outdone, Taylor Swift—who holds the report for a girl solo artist with probably the most Album of the Yr Grammy Awards (three complete)—reclaimed her masters, turned the primary lady billionaire simply from her music alone, and was the primary entertainer to be chosen for Time’s Particular person of the Yr. As well as, she headlined a 100-plus world tour referred to as Eras, which additionally was become a live performance movie that broke information when it grossed $98 million throughout its opening weekend. Ultimately, Swift’s Eras tour turned the primary tour in historical past to gross over $1 billion.
Along with their Renaissance and Eras excursions, Beyoncé and Swift drove the worldwide economic system.
Swift can be probably the most streamed music artist, inspired her tens of millions of followers to register to vote, and generously gave large bonuses to her tour employees; whereas Beyoncé employed a number of ladies for her world tour. Swift gave generously to meals banks at every tour cease, and Beyoncé opened a housing advanced for the homeless this 12 months with Future’s Little one bandmate Kelly Rowland of their hometown of Houston, Texas. Each Beyoncé and Swift have demonstrated their propensity for philanthropy—whereas additionally making “cash strikes.” Each pop stars negotiated with AMC Theaters in order that they are often paid immediately in a 50-50 take care of their movie distributions. These ladies, insisting on gender pay fairness and independence, are the function fashions.
Past their reputation, nonetheless, is their demonstration of sisterhood as they every supported one another by showing at one another’s film premieres. And when Taylor Swift was chosen as Time’s Particular person of the Yr, she commented on how neither she nor Beyoncé will play the sport of “pitting ladies towards one another.” That is admirable, given how each ladies profit from “fairly privilege”—with Swift having the added benefit of white privilege (in any case, she wouldn’t be attacked for sporting platinum blonde hair and, thus, be accused of self-hate, as had occurred with Beyoncé, who mentioned in her Renaissance movie the micro-aggressions she has confronted as a Black lady). If whiteness continues to be culturally dominant, it stands to motive that one star is held up as a super, whereas the opposite is widely known (but nonetheless criticized) for her proximity to it.
Each ladies—as self-identified feminists—have obtained backlash from conservatives, or have been accused by progressives of not doing sufficient politically. Nonetheless, they’ve each ascended to the highest of pop stardom by their very own deserves and have achieved “unbiased” standing, no matter their marital standing (Beyoncé is married with three kids, and Swift is perpetually single with a string of romances, whereas posing with one in all her cats on Time’s Particular person of the Yr cowl in a subversive upending of the “cat girl” stereotype).
Media, stan tradition and companies could also be invested in competitions, however Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have modeled a sisterhood and a path ahead on how ladies can shine and alter the sunshine for others. Greater than their profitable offers, high-grossing world excursions and films, greater than their followers, is a narrative of highly effective ladies recognizing how their stars shine brighter in a constellation moderately than in an eclipse.
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