Where the only thing under the mistletoe is enthusiastic consent.
1. Amandla Stenberg and Rowan Blanchard Tie For Feminist Celeb of the Year.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Shonda Rhimes, Rowan Blanchard, and Amandla Stenberg all walk into a bar. Full disclosure: we tried for, like, 15 minutes to come up with a feminist cocktail pun to fit in here, but we gave up because it was too hard (we almost settled on “White Male Gaze Russian,” but we decided to spare you the trauma of having to read that...almost). Anywho, all of these wonderful women were nominated to be Feminist Celebrity of the Year by the Ms. Foundation for Women. Blanchard and Stenberg tied for the title after a vote by online users this past week. As we’ve highlighted in past TWIFs here and here, Blanchard, 14, and Stenberg, 17, are among some of the smartest and most poised contemporary feminists out there--regardless of their ages (which are rather shocking, no?). Their ability to translate intersectionality into millennial-speak is going to shape the future of feminism--for the better, obvs--and make feminism accessible to groups that have traditionally been left out of the conversation. Def a well-earned title. *sniffles*
2. Star Wars Gains a Feminist Fighter.
Top-grossing movies almost exclusively feature a white, male-driven storyline (there’s an awesome Maureen Dowd piece from the NYT a few weeks ago that explains why), and so lists of successful films flood our gaze with images of hot-but-heroic dudes in fitting t-shirts or super-tight tights--ahem, how you doin’, Chris. And this week’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t change that a whole lot; except we can take some solace in the presence of Rey, one of the lead characters who is now being hailed as the first feminist protagonist that the Star Wars franchise has ever seen. Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, has managed to do the impossible: capture the experience of a real, full, AND interesting woman who is capable of fighting, nurturing, and prevailing--all at once! Wow! And we thought it could never be done. Plus, the cast delivered more diversity than what we normally get in action/fantasy films, which greatly enhances this feminist win. Plus PLUS, at an opening weekend total of $248 million grossed, it would appear audiences are loving it, too. And in other news, Chewbacca was spotted buying his morning coffee on Sunset Boulevard in his favorite “This is What A Feminist Looks Like” tee. Go chew on that.
3. HP Stage Play to Star Woman of Color.
Potter fans all over the world are rejoicing with the announcement of a London HP sequel and stage play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” to be performed next year at the Palace Theatre featuring adult versions of their most beloved wizards and mudbloods. And depending on who you talk to, the excitement grows or shrinks with the additional announcement that Noma Dumezweni, a black woman, will be playing adult Hermione, a character originally brought to life by the (very) white Emma Watson. This casting choice has, of course, uncovered a string of racism that even nerdy Potter fans aren’t free of. If you’re talkin’ to us, however, this development is magical. J.K. Rowling said it best herself with her response to an oddly anxious, borderline racist Tweet wondering how Rowling could possibly feel about a black Hermione. Rowling’s response read, “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione” Huzzah! Haters be damned. (A lot) more on this here.
4. 'Gender Tax' Found on Everyday Expenses.
This year, we’ve seen the Tampon Tax in the U.K., touting that tampons are a luxury item alongside velvet slippers and fine china (yawn); but now it appears that the U.S. has a secret Girl Tax, where women in this country unknowingly spend an average of $1,351 more each year for the same services and goods that men purchase. If there was ever a clearer way for the patriarchy to stick it to women than making us pay extra for things it has deemed “female-friendly,” it’d be changing the little female emblem on women’s bathrooms to a big middle finger. For real, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) of NYC released a report this past week titled “From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer,” that detailed how, after comparing roughly 800 products with clear female/male variations, those products intended for women cost about 7% more than products intended for men. The DCA looked at everything from razors to razor scooters, and found that women are simply paying more to fit neatly into the construct of femininity that they are forced into at birth. Oy. So much patriarchal hypocrisy. Our heads hurt.
5. No Indictments Made in Sandra Bland Case.
As a follow-up to a devastating story we covered over the summer, an equally devastating blow has been dealt to human rights groups this week. A Texas grand jury has decided against any indictments of foul-play in the Sandra Bland case that brought serious questions about excessive police force to the public consciousness. For those of you who need a refresher, Sandra Bland was a 28-year-old black woman in Texas who was arrested and jailed in July for allegedly failing to use her turn signal while driving (srsly), and was then found dead in her cell three days later. Authorities claim that Bland hanged herself with a plastic bag, but human rights groups as well as Bland’s own family deny these claims and are convinced that brutality at the hands of the police brought about her death. With this news, there has been a resurgence of the viral hashtag #SayHerName, encouraging news outlets, politicians, and the general public alike to acknowledge Bland’s humanity by discussing her by name and by not allowing her to become just another statistic. Additionally, the jury will reconvene in January to discuss other connections to the case. Until then, this story highlights an increasing issue of police brutality and violence against women, which we discussed at length last week--check it out.