2017 has been monumental for feminism all around the world, and India. Women forced open doors the patriarchy kept bolted. A lot of dirt on the patriarchal power structures were spilled. It became known that women are not going to be complacent anymore.
As we celebrate the end of the momentous year that was 2017, here are some of the moments when women especially pushed back for equality that deserve a special mention and warrant special celebration because they made the year what it was – great for women.
1. Aditi Mittal sat in a room full of male comedians and called out their bro-culture
When Anupama Chopra asked a bunch of comedians about sexism in the comedy world, the only female comic in the room, Aditi Mittal, got to speak last. But when she spoke, she shook the room and sent waves across the comedy circle with her honest confessions of struggling as a female comedian and the bro-culture the male comedians perpetuate and uphold.
As a result, Mittal became the first female comic in India to bag an Amazon special, and also paved the way for other female writers to tell their stories, like Sumukhi Suresh’s Pushpavalli.
2. Faye D’Souza just being Faye D’Souza
News Anchor and Executive Editor at Mirrow Now, Faye D’Souza has had multiple moments of crushing sexism with her words. Be it shutting down disrespectful deflection tactics when discussing a rape, or refusing to be bullied at her workplace, Faye has voiced that she will not be tolerating any sexism loud and clear. And we are here for it!
3. Raya Sarkar pushed back against all the sexual predators in academia
When the world came toghether with #MeToo, Raya Sarkar shifted focus from the victims of harassment in academia to the perpetrators who exploit their power and position to harass and assault women. With The List, as it has come to be known, Sarkar showed that she was not about to be intimidated any more and that she was ready to shake up the Brahmin hegemonic structures that a lot of the self-proclaimed feminists on the list fought to preserve.
4. A feminist refused to be complicit to the daily casual sexism on Whatsapp
In today’s personal victory, I quit my extended-family WhatsApp group. I cannot fully express the relief I feel. pic.twitter.com/E02iXtbLvh
— Manic Pixie Dream Tarantula (@The_HappyNoodle) October 11, 2017
We have all wondered how to respond to the sexism and misogyny perpetuated in Whatsapp Groups. We probably decided to mute the chats for some peace of mind. But this Twitter user showed us how to actually break the cycle. More power to her!
Also read: How to Handle Sexist Jokes and Your Friends Who Find Them Funny
5. Kangana Ranaut took a stand against nepotism and sexism in Bollywood
Kangana Ranaut spoke up on Karan Johar’s chat show. She held nothing back during her appearance on Aap Ki Adalat. And she threw a lot of shade on the patriarchal and nepotistic power structures that we all know exist in Bollywood.
6. Mithali Raj just being Mithali Raj
The Women’s Indian Cricket Team came in second at the Women’s World Cup and Captain Mithali Raj became the highest run-scorer in Women’s One Day Internationals. But women in India won when Mithila Raj also turned out to be a feminist who refused to answer sexist questions like who is her favourite male cricketer. Sexism in sports has been a long-standing tradition, and Mithila Raj showed that she was not here for it!
7. The Lipstick Under my Burqa crew showed the world that women are sexual beings
Lipstick Under My Burkha ushered in an era of representation of female voices in Indian cinema with their bold representation of female sexual desires. But it wasn’t without hurdles. Director Alankrita Srivastava faced resistance from the CBFC. But after tweeting out the ridiculous letter the examining committee sent her, Srivastava showed that she wasn’t going to give up on the theatre release the movie deserved. And even though the version that was finally released in theatres was heavily censored, we saw that the conversation it began cannot be censored by any Pahlaj Nihalani’s of the world.
8. Shayara Bano crusaded against the unjust Triple Talaq practice
Two years after Shayara Bano filed a petition against Triple Talaq, one of the five women who fought against the unjust practice, it was declared unconstitutional. Despite being subjected to emotional and physical abuse during her 15-year marriage, Shayara Bano found the strength to fight for her rights and showed women all around India that they deserve justice. Even with the discouragement and intimidation she was subjected to during the trial, she refused to step back and ensured that she got that justice for herself and women all around the country.
9. Shubhangi Swaroop became the first female pilot in the Indian Navy
Biotechnology engineer and national Taekwondo champion are not enough to describe Shubhangi Swaroop’s accomplishments. She became the first female Pilot in the Indian Navy after passing out of the Ezhimala Naval Academy in Kerala. As the daughter of a serving Naval Officer, Gyan Swaroop, she showed that daughters can follow in their father’s footsteps if they choose to.
10. Kavita Devi became the first woman from India to get a WWE Contract
Indian women have been making their mark in the Sports World internationally in Badminton, Wrestling, Tennis among others. But Kavita Devi went where no Indian woman has thought of going before – WWE. A gold-medallist in power-lifting, she is literally smashing patriarchy for all the women around India in the WWE ring.
11. A transgender plus-sized model, Mona Varonica Campbell, lived her dream by walking in a Wendell Rodricks show
Runway Pose ? @wendellrodricks ✨ Designer @schulenfernandes Makeup ? @dsimrock Hair @yiannitsapatori Photography @prasadw454 Runway @lakmefashionwk Location @stregismumbai #monavaronicacampbell #plussizemodel #runwaymodel #openingshow #wendellrodricks #lakmefashionweek #plussizefashion #bodypositive #beautybeyondsize #TransIsBeautiful
Mona always enjoyed design and would go to her favourite designer, Wendell Rodrick’s store often to admire his work. Her life took her to London for college, to Canada to train with MAC Cosmetics and came full circle when she got the opportunity to walk the runway for Rodrick’s plus-size line at Lakme Fashion Week. Her walking the runway as a woman was a slap in the face for anyone who doubts the gender identities of transgenders. She also validated the dreams of the transgender community as worthy of being fulfilled.
12. Every woman ever who decided to make her 2017 feminist
Alright, it's time for you to tell us your best feminist moments of the year! Tweet to us with #MyFeminist2017 and tell us what you were proud of, as a feminist, this year! pic.twitter.com/dwHJSI4BbE
— Feminism in India (@FeminismInIndia) December 27, 2017
Women all over India took small steps in their everyday lives to stand up for gender equality. Whether it was through having tough conversations about gender and sexuality with family members, finding safe spaces with other feminists, addressing their own experience with assault or cutting off from toxic masculinity in their friends circle, each act made 2017 the year of the feminists!
Now on to making 2018 even better!
Featured Image Credit: Women’s Web