This week, feminist groans reached all new decibels as Oscar noms came out, revealing that the Academy will not be acknowledging any actors of color or films about people of color for the second year in a row. Yeah, we know. This one is a real doozy. Rightfully angry and yet respectful responses from many prominent entertainers abound, including a video from Jada Pinkett Smith in which she announced that she will not be attending the ceremony, and asked communities of color to “stand in power” with her. Director Spike Lee and actress Lupita Nyong’o also shared frustrations (an understatement) on social media, with separate posts calling out the Academy for its apparent disinterest in diversified stories and peoples. We certainly don’t need to remind you that talent comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, but unfortunately those talents often get lost or ignored by an Academy that is overwhelmingly white and male. An iota of hope was restored, however, when Academy Awards CEO Dawn Hudson shared her “devastation” about the racial discrimination, commending the work from people of color in 2015, and criticizing the tone-deaf Academy voters. Looks like we’re in a for a thoroughly awkward night of apologetic, (hopefully) well-meaning white faces on the evening of February 28th! Who’s bringing the popcorn?
2. Taiwan Elects First Female President.
Hey, China, I’mma let you finish, but… Taiwan just elected their first female president and she might just lead the island to some fresh, young independence. After 20 years of thriving democratic rule, the citizens of Taiwan have elected Tsai Ing-wen, who is not only an exciting leader because of her gender identity, but also because of her progressive policies. As a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), she is known as a “tough negotiator, cat-lover, and LGBT supporter” (ummm, can you say dream woman??), but above all, she has her sights set on maintaining peace and prosperity for the island. Because of the party she is aligned with, there is talk of possibly pushing for independence from mainland China altogether--but, if not total independence, she is certainly interested in emphasizing the establishment of an entirely separate, Democratic identity for the island. Plus, the pics of her playing with her cats are just about the sweetest things we’ve seen all year. Here’s to all the ladies (and, more specifically, cat ladies) in politics!
3. Obama Talks Tampon Tax.
It’s been one crazy ride following tampon politics these past few months, what with the outrage with controversial claims about their luxurious nature in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. (lol), watching Canada push to remove the “Tampon Tax” nationwide (and California do the same statewide), and now hearing from President Obama that he believes tampons are only taxed because men are disproportionately in power. Srsly, he said that. Though we’re still catching our breath from all of the excited jumping up and down that we’ve been doing, we think it’s important to highlight that there is still a long way to go on the path to destigmatizing periods for women and menstruating people of all identities. It’s worth noting that President Obama didn’t even know about the tax that exists in 40 U.S. states before his interview with popular YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen who raised the issue of tampon taxes to begin with. Bringing periods to the forefront of mainstream conversation is just one of the many ways we can begin to deconstruct the cultural period taboos we encounter; read more about our thoughts on this issue here.
4.Say Yes to the Dress Hosts First Trans Bride.
Needless to say, our guilty pleasure nights of Say Yes to the Dress and pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream became all the sweeter this week when TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta featured Precious Davis, its first ever (openly) transgender bride, alongside her fiancé Myles, who also happens to be transgender. Davis, the assistant director of diversity recruitment initiatives at Chicago’s Columbia College and a member of the 2014 Trans 100 list, shared that her motivation for being on the show was due, in part, to her desire to increase trans visibility and challenge stereotypes, assumptions, and misunderstandings about trans women and trans love. At a conflicting time when trans people are making incredible strides in the mainstream, yet still facing disproportionate violence, hatred, and obstacles, media representation is wildly important for the wellbeing of the community. And a big thanks to TLC for sharing this beautiful story!
5. Hayden Panettiere Talks Postpartum Depression.
Any reminder that smiling celebs are hardly ever as happy IRL as they appear on our TVs and magazines is a powerful one, but this reminder is particularly important for one of the all-time most misunderstood groups of people around: the new mom. Nashville actress Hayden Panettiere, a 26-year-old new mom of a baby girl, used her time on the Critics’ Choice Awards red carpet this week to talk about her postpartum depression and her decision to seek help managing it. Because of cultural expectations that new moms are supposed to be the happiest and most emotionally fulfilled members of the population (they’ve successfully fulfilled their one and only duty as a woman! What’s not to love!? *eye roll*), women who experience PPD often feel silenced out of fear of being cast as a bad parent or a failure of a mother. Exposure like that from Panettiere is a challenge to those expectations, and a step on the way to accepting (and honoring, let’s be real) new moms in all their varying strengths, weaknesses, and experiences.