2018 – another year fraught with trials and tribulations, challenges and celebrations, but one where for the first time in a long time, true change felt as if it was on the way for women. After the #metoo movement began to gain real traction in 2017, 2018 was a year where women right across the world felt emboldened to step out, flanked by their sisters, and share their truth with the world in the knowledge that enough was enough, and any type of coercion, abuse or assault would simply no longer be tolerated. In reflecting upon 2018, we stand with those women, championing their bravery and taking inspiration from the stature of their achievements. Below we explore 10 of the most powerful moments of the cultural year, the ones that influence us to carry on showing the world who we are. And to all the millions of women we do not know by name, who are still looking for the courage or are simply hoping for a better tomorrow keep fighting the good fight – we have your back.
1. Emma Gonzalez proving that teens really are the future
Having undergone unspeakable trauma in yet another high school shooting, Floridian student Emma Gonzalez found the courage to make her now-viral speech condemning gun violence in America. Aged just 18, she went on to help organize March For Our Lives, a demonstration that spawned over 880 sibling events right across the world. Speaking eloquently and evocatively, Emma is proof that even when the so-called adults are in charge, the youth should never be underestimated.
2. Beyonce demonstrated the power of performance at Coachella
Right when it seemed that Queen Bee could get no bigger, she gave the performance of her career at 2018’s Coachella festival. In a career-spanning set, she became the first black woman to ever headline the event, introducing the predominantly-white audience to a show steeped in black collegiate culture, sampling Malcolm X, Nina Simone and countless other black rights activists. The performance gathered 41 million total viewers, making it the most-watched live-streamed performance of all time.
3. Megan Markle challenged conventions of British royalty
Marrying into the British Royal Family, Megan Markle brought a sense of much-needed diversity to the monarchy. An American of mixed-race heritage, she wasn’t born into wealth, but instead built her own career and remains an outspoken feminist, equal rights campaigner and (gasp) person who occasionally shuts her own car door . With plenty of royal engagements - and a baby- on the way, we can’t wait to see what inspirational causes she backs in 2019.
4. We celebrated the life of Aretha Franklin
A legend of soul, we lost Aretha Franklin in August 2018, but learnt plenty about R.E.S.P.E.C.T from her jubilant funeral celebration, where numerous women in entertainment came together to honour her legacy. Born and raised in Detroit, Franklin was not only a glorious singer but a passionate civil rights activist, contributing huge financial donations to charity groups and offering bail to Angela Davis in the 1970s. Passing at the age of 76 after nearly 60 years in the business, she proved that you could be a world-renowned entertainer and compassionate with it.
5. The World of Gymnastics stood up against sexual abuse in sport
In January, former Olympic Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to a maximum of 175 years in prison due to molestations of female atheletes in his care. Through hours of painful testimony, the strong young women (156 in total) who came forward proved that justice can and should be served where power is so willfully mistreated. In August of the same year, survivor Simone Biles went on to become the first woman to win five all-round titles at the U.S. National Championships, all while wearing a uniform of teal colours, the designated hue for sexual abuse survivors.
6. And Hollywood show that #timesup for abuse and poor diversity
Hollywood also came out in support of Me Too with the #TimesUp Movement, that saw numerous Hollywood actresses and ally males arrive at the Oscars and Golden Globes wearing all-black in protest of sexual abuse within the industry. Frances McDormand went one step further when during her ‘Best Actress’ speech, imploring all female nominees to stand and championing the important of inclusion riders – a provision in an actors contract that demands diversity in casting and production staff. Should this rider be adopted, 2019 could be a more balanced and even playing field for all women and minority groups.
7. Women in the arts make history together
Women in the arts make history together Two landmark cases in the arts proved that women can be a formidable force when they work together. With their depiction of Michelle Obama, Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley became the first African-American artists to paint the official Smithsonian Presidential portraits, while New York Times Reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their journalistic investigations into the Harvey Weinstein case. Proof that women should never be pitted against one another, but rather support and encourage one another.
8. Miss Universe hosts it’s first Transgender competitor
Although the Miss Universe competition has a long way to go before it can be considered a genuinely feminist pursuit, it made key strides in 2018 with its first ever transgender female contestant, Angela Ponce aka Miss Spain. Aged just 27, the model used the opportunity to highlight Spanish culture and intersectional feminism. A big step forward for a competition that disqualified trans contestants as little as six years ago.
9. We make a significant play towards muting R Kelly
The Me Too movement also made a significant impact in the music industry, as the #muteRKelly movement took hold, in response to horrifying testimonies as to the rappers co-ersive and violent treatment of women and underage females. Created by Oronike Odeleye and Kenyette Barnes, their powerful argument earnt support from the likes of John Legend, Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington. The campaign resulted in a string of cancelled dates for Kelly, and his temporary removal from Spotify streaming services.
10. Janelle Monae releases Dirty Computer
A jubiliant celebration of blackness, gender fluidity and queerness, Janelle Monae earnt much –deserved mainstream crossover appeal with her third studio album, Dirty Computer. Talking to the New York Times, Monae described the record as an ‘attempt to step into a more authentic self…a homage to women and the spectrum of sexual identities’. By presenting a sex-positive approach to feminimity, Monae succeeds in pushing the narrative of modern feminism forwards, leading to a nomination for Album of the Year at the 61st Grammy Awards.