From Emmy nominations to midterm election losses, 2018’s women’s movement has seen its ups and downs.
For decades the term “feminism” was often met with the rolling of eyes. It was paired with the stereotype of loud, opinionated and obnoxious women, an image that some media outlets thrived off. While the agendas of the women’s movement were deemed unnecessary, headlines continued to sexualise female celebrities completing daily mundane tasks: “make up free Jennifer Garner hides her enviable figure under dowdy slacks and shirt during coffee run in Los Angeles.” It made individuals cautious to call themselves feminists, and admittedly I was one of them. 2018, however, seems to have challenged this as it was a monumental year for women.
Last year, women universally stood up and made sure they were heard; they made it clear that they didn’t want superiority but equality and recognition for the fact that we sadly weren’t there yet. One of the most powerful moments arguably being Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifying before the senate Judiciary Committee on sexual assault allegations she made against now-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. No matter where you stand on the accusations, it is hard to deny the courage and strength Dr Ford displayed in her testimony, something that she believed was her “civic duty.”
This event was certainly not alone, with the global participation in the Times Up marches across 34 countries, and Oprah’s moving speech at the Golden Globes addressing the Me Too movement, to name a few. Further afield, 2018 also saw the lift on Saudi Arabia’s driving ban for women, yet with activists for the cause being jailed in the country it raises the issue of how much a difference this legislation will actually make.
This makes it clear that, of course, the year was not without challenges for women. While the 2018 US midterms may have been a historical night for women, there were some who lost out in their races. For example, there was the race between M. J. Heger and John Carter in Texas’s 31st congressional district. While Heger was not successful on November 4th, she increased the vote share held by Democrats in that district by just over 10%, making it a much closer race with her powerful political ad “doors” reaching 4 million views.
Another case is Sandra Oh’s historic Emmy nomination for best actress in a drama. While she may not have been the recipient of the award, it is important to recognise these smaller victories when they arise.
The women’s movement may not have reached the position it has desired yet, but the successes of 2018 cannot be ignored. On the other side of the coin, how viable these successes are depends on how 2019 plays out. So far in 2019, Sandra Oh was the first Asian woman to host the Golden Globes and to win the award for lead actress in a TV drama since 1981. However, it also has been home to the same bigotry; an attempt was made to embarrass Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a video of her dancing with some friends in college was published online. What is important is that whatever path 2019 leads to, the women’s movement continues to build on its momentum of 2018.