While 2017 proved to be quite the dumpster fire -- from shady politicians to horrifying mass shootings -- there are still some silver linings to look back on with pride. This year, women organized harder than ever to push back against a toxic culture of masculinity.
So as the year comes to a close, it's time to acknowledge some of the women that made 2017 shine even through the darkest of clouds.
1. The Women's March Organizers
We knew that 2017 would be a year like no other when the resistance started early -- the day after Republican President Donald Trump's inauguration. While the president swears that large crowds gathered to see him sworn in, they were absolutely pitiful in comparison to the hundreds of thousands who came out to march for women in DC and cities around the world.
But the Women's March co-chairs also worked to keep people organized and fighting throughout the year, too.
"Within a year we were able to have one of the most historic moments for women in US history, which was incredibly powerful," co-chair Tamika Mallory told Amsterdam News. "People didn't believe that we could keep the movement going from the march. We have been able to do that."
Now they're organizing to get people to the polls for the 2018 midterms, in hopes of bringing the power back to the people -- and out of the hands of corporations and the 1 percent.
2. The #MeToo Movement
The anti-sexual harassment/assault campaign has taken down some of the most powerful men in politics, entertainment, media and other industries, forcing men to finally examine their own role in propagating, colluding with or just ignoring -- and therefore condoning -- the growing rape culture in our country. From actress Rose McGowan to Congresswoman Jackie Speier, America is coming to terms with the idea that yes, all women experience harassment -- and, yes, all men play some role in maintaining the power structure that allows the abuse to go on in silence.
But that silence could be over for good. #MeToo was named "Time's Person of the Year," and the movement's founder -- activist Tarana Burke -- will be pressing the button to drop the ball in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Let's hope 2018 will be a year with less violence against women.
3. The "Die-In" Women
Republicans dominated the 2017 congressional session with their desperate attempts to repeal Obamacare.Much of their failure was due to public pressure from activists -- especially disability activists like Stephanie Woodward, Anita Cameron, Kat Perez and Carrie Ann Lucas -- who organized and participated in "die-ins" at congressional offices. But these protests to defend affordable, accessible health care weren't their only cause.
As Robyn Powell reports:
All the women Broadly spoke to were quick to point out that they're also committed to fighting against a wide range of issues not related to health care, such as police brutality against people of color, income inequality, and threats to reproductive rights and immigrant rights. And health care-related issues are not nearly all the problems that their demographic faces. Disabled women are paid just 73 cents on the dollar compared to non-disabled men. In 35 states, mothers are at risk of legally losing custody of their children simply because they are disabled. Moreover, women with disabilities face astonishingly high rates of sexual assault.
4. "Moms Demand Action"
The 2017 calendar year was rife with mass shootings, from Las Vegas to Texas. Yet not only is Congress refusing to pass sensible gun control laws, but they're also expanding gun rights so those with permits can take their own guns into states where concealed carry is forbidden. Following the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting earlier this month, Moms Demand Action continues to organize against the GOP and the NRA. The group aims to stop the violence that continues to claim innocent lives on a daily basis --especially given that a large portion of those victims are women.
5. Virginia's New Legislators
If we learned nothing else from Virginia's 2017 elections, it's that no matter how red a district may appear, every seat must be challenged. And that's just what a number of progressives did -- many of them women. Now the state is just one vote away from Democratic control for the first time in years.
As local news station WTOP reported the day after the election:
In Northern Virginia, Democratic women ousted Republicans in seven races, including in the 13th District where local journalist Danica Roem made history as the first transgender person to be elected to a state legislature. In addition to Roem, other female winners Tuesday night will also make House history. Next year's House of Delegates will include the first Asian-American women and the first Latinas. And the overall number of women serving in the 100-member body will jump from 17 to 27 including four Republicans."
More female candidates are running for office than ever before, and women are swarming the polls to vote for them. It's a lesson we will hopefully take nationwide as the 2018 midterms approaches.