This year had its ups and downs like the many before it, but amidst the darkness were so many shining moments of brilliant light. These were moments that made us strong and proud to stand together, that buoyed us through, and some of these moments made us especially proud to be women!
Here’s Model Behaviors’ List of Top 10 Moments That Made Us Proud to Be Women in 2014:
10) Leighton Meester’s Essay on Playing Curley’s Wife in “Of Mice and Men”
Meester played Curley’s wife opposite Chris O’Dowd and James Franco earlier this year at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway. After four months of inhabiting the role of a nameless, scapegoat character who is violently murdered onstage (in her essay, she reveals that she often receives laughter from the audience during her death scene), she explains how this role has opened her eyes to the fact that not much has changed for women in the seventy-seven years since the novel was first published. Her essay is eloquent and resonant, in particular when she compares the death of a dog in the play to her character’s death. “But when the dog gets led off to be shot, protests can be heard from the audience, and as a dog lover I have the same feeling. On the contrary, complaints can rarely be heard during Curley’s wife’s death.”
Read the full essay.
9) Ursula K. Le Guin’s National Book Award Speech
For anyone unfamiliar with Le Guin’s work, it’s almost too big, too great, and too expansive to describe. She’s first and foremost known as a science-fiction and fantasy writer, often exploring the political, environmental, gendered, and religious constructs of our world in futuristic or alien settings. Her first short stories were published in the 1960s, and she’s written several works since then, including but not limited to the Earthsea series, “The Left Hand of Darkness,” and “The Dispossessed.” Last month at the National Book Awards ceremony, she became the 2014 Medalist for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Her speech about the future of writing and its power to change the world hit close to home, especially after the months-long struggle between Hachette and Amazon. “Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”
8) The Cover Reveal of Sarah McCarry’s Young Adult Novel, “About a Girl”
It feels like there’s been a lot of unrest in the book world this year. Articles posted on whether adults should or shouldn’t read young adult novels. Rightful demands for diverse books and diversity in panels at book conferences. And as mentioned above, the complicated and drawn-out power play between Hachette and Amazon. Amidst all this, there has been progress. One moment that stands out is the cover reveal of McCarry’s novel “About a Girl.” On it, two girls of color are kissing. They aren’t professional models. They’re average teen girls, and the cover is one of the most beautiful and progressive covers to come out this year, especially when you understand how tightly the sales and marketing departments control book covers in the publishing world. This is truly a giant step forward—for female authors, for women of color, and for members of the LGBTQ community.
See the book description.
7) Laverne Cox Named Glamour’s Woman of the Year
When “Orange Is the New Black” first aired on Netflix, it instantly grabbed the world’s attention. From its cast of diverse characters to its portrayal of corruption in the prison system, this was a show that made people sit up and pay attention. One of its greatest achievements, in our humble opinion, is the role of Sophia, played by real-life trans woman of color Laverne Cox. Cox brings this trans character to life and makes viewers care about her in a way that is rarely seen on mainstream television. Because of her work on the show, Cox has become a spokeswoman for the trans community and is opening the eyes and hearts of many people across the country and in the world at large. Earlier in the year, she became the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Time, but we wanted to highlight her achievement as Glamour’s Woman of the Year because it acknowledges her, not only as a strong and courageous human being but also for who she truly is—a strong and courageous woman.
Read the full article.
6) Justice Ginsburg’s Dissent in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby
Many women in this country waited with bated breath for the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby decision to come out. While the decision may not have made a lot of us happy, Justice Ginsburg’s dissent was brilliant and shed light on how dangerous a decision like this could be for women in the very near future. Interestingly, every female member of the Supreme Court was in the dissent.
5) Donna Tartt Awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for “The Goldfinch”
This novel is only Tartt’s third, but each of her books have been published a decade apart from each other. The book was a bestseller shoe-in and instantly polarized audiences, some claiming it was too high-brow, some claiming it wasn’t high-brow enough. Either way, the Pulitzer Prize is a great honor to receive, and we always feel proud when the award is given to a woman.
See the list of winners.
4) Emma Watson’s HeForShe Speech
When Watson first announced that she would become a Women Goodwill Ambassador for the UN, quite a few of us were left scratching our heads and wondering how such a young, “inexperienced” actress landed that job. Not to mention, we were wondering what that job would entail exactly. However, after she gave her speech, which was basically a brief introduction of HeForShe, the media went crazy, lauding her as a “game changer” of feminism. This was maybe a bit preemptive of journalists, but it’s still encouraging to see young women with celebrity status stand up in front of the world and say, “I believe in equality for every person.” While her speech didn’t address a lot of intersectional concerns, or acknowledge her many privileges, it is still the direction we want to be moving in. This is the future we want to see.
Watch the full speech.
3) Roxane Gay, “Bad Feminist,” and The Butter
Gay has always been an Internet powerhouse, but this year she really brought her A-game. It started in May with the release of her novel “An Untamed State,” which is about a woman who is kidnapped in Haiti and held for ransom. The book made it to the New York Times bestseller list, and only three months later, she released a collection of essays called “Bad Feminist,” which has been on the New York Times bestseller list twice. Shortly after that book’s release, The Toast announced that Gay would be in charge of a vertical site called The Butter, which would “focus on cultural criticism and personal essays that make readers think and feel.” But no one explains Roxane Gay better than Roxane Gay.
Read her essay on “The Price of Black Ambition.” Then read everything she’s ever written.
2) Beyoncé’s VMA Performance
There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that Beyoncé is one of the most influential women of the times. She keeps us on our toes and always manages to make each performance bigger and better than the last. It was no surprise that her VMA performance impressed us, but still, she managed to shock and inspire a large portion of the viewing public when she stood in silhouette against a bright blazing backdrop of the word “FEMINIST.” While critics and supporters alike voiced their opinions on the moment, we appreciate her performance as a whole. Not only did she visibly and assertively take a stance on supporting equal rights for men and women in her feminist moment, but throughout her whole performance, she is surrounded by a diverse cast of women. In “XO,” when all of her dancers came out, the majority were women. In addition, she’s had an all-female band for close to seven years. It’s obvious that Beyoncé believes in powerful, capable women. She believes in giving them room on her stage. This performance was another iteration of that long-held belief.
Watch the full performance.
1) Malala Yousafzai Wins the Nobel Peace Prize
As soon as we started making our list, this moment easily took the number-one spot. Malala embodies our ideals of strength, passion, and courage. We look at Malala, and we see hope. She was given the award for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” In her graceful acceptance speech, she perfectly sums up what we work and hope for every day here at Model Behaviors. “A girl has the power to go forward in her life. And she’s not only a mother, she’s not only a sister, she’s not only a wife. But a girl…should have an identity.”
Watch the full speech.
Which moments did we forget to include? Share some of your favorite female empowerment moments of the year in our comment section below!